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 A computer journal for translation professionals

Issue 16-10-266
(the two hundred sixty-sixth edition)  


1. Your Tool Supports an Ever-Growing List of File Formats! Really? (Premium Content)

2. Xbench: A Tool for Terminology Management and Translation QA (Guest Column by Riccardo Schiaffino)

3. Tags Be Gone!

4. Wordsworthian

The Last Word on the Tool Box

"Google Translate Is Getting Really, Really Accurate"

With its lovely mixture of naivety and hyperbole, this was my favorite headline among the hundreds and hundreds of articles published by the media after Google Translate's team boasted about its new achievements with its English-into-Chinese neural machine translation. Others have already tasked themselves with discussing the announcement on its actual merits (for instance, in this article in Slator or this one by Kirti Vashee), so there's no need for me to add more.

(If you'd like to read a very untechnical overview of neural machine translation, feel free to read this.)

But this: A day after the announcement, an article on Google's (Alphabet's) stock price caught my eye. Its subtitle was "The Bears Are Wrong on GOOG Stock." And one of the reasons for that?

"Google is a leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted language translation, and the company has just announced a new technique that will greatly improve results. It is called the 'Google Neural Machine Translation System' (GNMT), and it is now capable of taking an entire sentence [sic] and translating it into another language."

That helped me immensely to understand why corporate announcements like Google's have to be so over the top. It's not meant for you and me, or really for anyone interested in the technology itself -- if only the media would understand this as well! Instead, it's meant for analysts and investors who clearly don't understand what they're reading but get all excited about it nonetheless.

Oh, and in other Google-related news: Google Doodles once again did not honor International Translation Day on September 30. I'm glad that we were able to celebrate it anyway.

Happy belated International Translation Day! 


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1. Your Tool Supports an Ever-Growing List of File Formats! Really?(Premium Content)

Here is something that has been on my mind -- or maybe I should say: has been bugging me -- for a long time: Part of the product description of every translation environment tool is the list of supported file formats. And when I talk about a new or updated tool in the Tool Box Journal, that list is always mentioned as well.

But what does that really mean?

. . . you can find the rest of this article in the premium edition. If you'd like to read more, an annual subscription to the premium edition costs just $25 at Or you can purchase the latest edition of the Translator's Tool Box ebook and receive an annual subscription for free.



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2. Xbench: A Tool for Terminology Management and Translation QA (Guest Column by Riccardo Schiaffino)

[I have written about Xbench a number of times before, typically praising the versatility of the tool and the responsiveness of its developers. In the last few months the pace of Xbench's development seems to have increased even more with the release of a large number of plugins and workflows for desktop-based and browser-based tools. So I asked English-into-Italian translator Riccardo Schiaffino, who has given many talks and presentations on Xbench, to give you an update on what's happening with the tool.]


Xbench is an excellent tool for terminology management, glossary and translation memory concordance searches, and translation QA. This program comes in two versions: freeware (Xbench 2.9) and paid (Xbench 3.0). If you only intend to use the program for terminology management and search, the free version of the program is probably enough; depending on the CAT tool you use, the free version also is useful for getting you started in translation QA. If you try it and find it useful for QA, though, the added functionality and file types support offered by the paid version increase the value of the program.

Terminology Management and Concordance Searches

When I first started using Xbench, it was for terminology management and for translation memory concordance search. At that time, the CAT tool I used the most was Trados 2007, which allowed concordance searches only in the source language. At times, though, I wanted to search in the target, but, since there was no way of doing that in Trados, I got in the habit of using Xbench: I could load in it one or more exported Trados translation memories, and I could then use Xbench to do a reverse concordance look up -- a useful function that SDL finally introduced with Studio. After I begun using Xbench and I saw how useful it was, I started using it more and more: at first only for searching terminology (glossaries and translation memories), but after a short while also for translation QA.

With Xbench, you use the same search program and leverage the same glossaries and resources no matter what CAT tool you use for writing your translation. If you, like me, work with several CAT tools, it is good to know that you can always rely on your favorite glossaries and resources, regardless of the translation environment you are using for a specific project.

Also, the glossaries you load in Xbench can be as simple as a tab-delimited text file: no need to struggle with the intricacies of SDL MultiTerm.

Translation QA

Nowadays the QA features of the most powerful CAT tools (such as SDL Trados Studio or memoQ) are extensive. So, if your CAT tool already offers internal QA features, why use an external program like Xbench?

For me, the answer is that I regularly have to use more than one CAT tool: mostly SDL Trados Studio, but increasingly also memoQ, Memsource, and sometimes other programs as well. Just like for terminology management, one of the reasons I rely on Xbench as a QA tool instead of using the internal QA features of my CAT tools is that with Xbench I can use a single program, with the same resources and key terminology glossaries, and the same QA tests. If I spend hours devising and refining a special regex (regular expression) search to test for certain possible translation problems, I want to be able to use it regardless of what CAT tool I use to translate any specific project.

Xbench offers a rich set of QA tests: a spelling checker that allows you to flag all suspect misspellings at the same time, instead of one at a time throughout the text, and various consistency tests -- for example, to see if sentences that have the same text have been translated differently, or, conversely, if sentences that are different in the source text all have the same translation. Xbench also helps with numeric consistency, with making sure that "camelCase" words are the same in source and target (useful when translating software), checks for the correct application of required terminology, and allows for additional QA tests based on your personal and project checklists (more about that later).

Xbench QA

Some of Xbench's QA checks

Supported File Types

Xbench supports many different bilingual file types, for glossaries (for example, tab-delimited text files), for translation memories (TMX and several proprietary CAT tool formats, including Studio memories), and CAT tool bilingual files (from all the major CAT tools, such as Trados Studio and memoQ).

The files loaded in Xbench can be used in various ways: as reference files (doing searches in memories, glossaries and bilingual tools), as "key terminology" glossaries (that is, glossaries that are used during QA to check that the terminology is correct), and as "ongoing translation" (files on which QA is performed to find inconsistencies and other issues).

The bilingual file types supported by Xbench include those from some old programs, such as "classic" Trados, SDLX, TagEditor and even IBM TM2, and all the major CAT tools currently in use, including SDL Trados Studio, memoQ, Star Transit, Wordfast, Déjà Vu, Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit, MateCat and Memsource.

You can even use Xbench with CAT tools that are not officially supported and that, in fact, do not use bilingual files the way other CAT tools do. With a bit of ingenuity, you can even use Xbench to check the translations you do in OmegaT.

Xbench Plug-Ins and Integrations

Xbench offers plug-ins or extensions for several programs.

SDL Trados Studio

For SDL Trados Studio there is an add-in that can be downloaded either from the SDL app store or from Once you install the add-in, you can launch the Run QA in Currecnt Project command from the Home ribbon bar within Trados Studio.


Unlike Trados Studio, memoQ doesn't expose an API (application programming interface) to create add-ins, so ApSIC, the Spanish software and translation company that develops Xbench, went a different way to make easy the use of Xbench with memoQ files: it uses "segment positioning" that allows you to perform a translation QA in Xbench on an exported file from memoQ and easily jump back to the segment in the actual open project within memoQ. You can find a video on this procedure right here.


Memsource is a popular cloud CAT tool, and Xbench supports it with its own add-in, the Xbench Connector for Memsource. The Xbench Connector creates a connection between Xbench and the Memsource Editor (the optional desktop that Memsource projects can be translated in).

Xbench Connector for Memsource

Xbench Connector for Memsource

Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit, and Matecat

To perform QA in Xbench on several cloud CAT tools, such as Transifex, Google Translator Toolkit, or MateCat, ApSIC has developed an add-in for Google Chrome. With the installed plugin you can start the Xbench QA process within an open project of any of these tools. Once an error is detected in Xbench, you can easily jump back to the corresponding segment in the open project and make the necessary correction.

Google Chrome extensions for Xbench

Google Chrome extensions for Xbench

Using Xbench to Create and Export TMX Files

Another useful feature offered by Xbench is that it can export to a single TMX file all the bilingual resources included in an Xbench project. So, if you have a mix of various bilingual files, you can use Xbench to create out of them a single exported translation memory, which can then be imported in any CAT tool.

Extending Xbench

Xbench already offers many different QA tests. But what if the test you need to perform is not among those featured by the program?

The answer is that you can extend Xbench's QA and search features through project and personal checklists. Checklists can be as simple as simple searches, and as complicated as complex regex expressions. By using such searches and record them in checklists, you can add to Xbench the ability to search for inconsistencies in punctuation, more flexible key term lists, lists of words not to be used in your translations, and more.

Extending Xbench with personal checklists

Extending Xbench with personal checklists

Conclusion and Links

I find Xbench extremely useful, and I use it with all the translation projects I do. You can download the program from For a full review of the various features offered by Xbench, see my presentation "Xbench for Terminology Management and Translation QA" on my blog About Translation. See also ApSIC's support on, and the Xbench Community Forum for more information on the program.  



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3. Tags Be Gone!

Earlier this week, MateCat announced an interesting feature: It has eliminated the manual placing of tags or inline codes in translation segments in the following language combinations: English <> German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian;  Italian <>French, German, Spanish; and German <> French. Instead of showing the tags in the source and target segments, a "Guess Tags" button is displayed which both enters the source tags and guesses the placement of the target tags. If the target tags are not correctly placed, you can correct them manually. The reason they often will be displayed correctly is because of the underlying word alignment that MateCat performs on those language combinations.

It's an exciting feature that can eliminate a lot of headaches for many translators. But if you feel you've read about something like this before somewhere, you're right. It was likely in November 2015 when I reported for the first time on Lilt (Premium subscribers can access that in the archives). I sent Spence Green from Lilt the MateCat announcement when it was first released, and this is what he said:

"Yes, this is a pretty obvious feature (when word alignments are available), and it's not terribly hard to implement. It's strange that it was not implemented years ago in the other tools."

I venture a guess that other tools will follow suit now. It might be more work for some than for others to apply word alignments, but it's just too good a feature to pass on.

And really, this is why I love watching technology develop and writing about it. Between the different developers it's like an organic entity that makes all of them better once someone comes up with something clever. 



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4. Wordsworthian

Yes, "wordsworthian" typically relates to the Romantic poet William Wordsworth ("What pensive beauty autumn shows..."), but I think it's an excellent word for worthy tricks in (MS) Word

Here are some (I've mentioned some of these before -- but since I realized that I myself had forgotten several, I can only cling to the hope that you are as forgetful as I am).

If you want to repeat the last command within Word, pressing F4 (LibreOffice/OpenOffice: Ctrl+Shift+Y) repeats the last command. That can be formatting-related or a more complex command, like running a macro or entering a field.

If you want to go back to the last location where you changed something in the document, press Shift+F5 (as far as I can tell, there is no equivalent in LibreOffice/OpenOffice). This is obviously helpful when proofreading a document.

We'll talk about copying and pasting further down below, but there is also a "different kind" of copy & paste in MS Word that most people are not aware of. It's called "Spike" and is named after the old-fashioned and painful-injury-causing paper holder that resembled a long nail sticking up and onto which papers were impaled. Unlike the traditional copy & paste, Spike does not use the clipboard, so it doesn't overwrite any potentially valued content you might have sitting there. To use it, select some content (text, graphics, etc.) within a Word document, press Ctrl+F3, put the cursor in the document where you want to move the content, and press Ctrl+Shift+F3. This results in the old instance being deleted and transferred to the new location.

Once you do that, your spiked content is not available anymore (so you can't place it elsewhere as well). If you want to place it in more than one place, you'll need to type spike in the desired new location in the Word document and press F3. That'll position the Spike content without you "losing" it for further use. (Yes, you're right, this last one sounds like the ultra-nerdy shortcut -- feel free to forget it right away, unless, however, you want to impress your otherwise-so-much-more-tech-savvy-than-you kids or other relatives.)

If you just want to copy the old fashion way, you can of course use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, but sometimes it's a lot easier (and works in virtually any program, not just in Word) to select something and then press the Ctrl key as you drag it. This procedure can be especially helpful when you work in a bilingual translation environment and you need to copy non-translatable items (e.g., product names or codes) from source to target.

In Word you can also do the same dragging process and hold the Ctrl+Shift combination. This will not only copy the item but make it a link to the original location (so that you can click on the link to jump to that place). This is also potentially helpful when proofreading a document and marking places that you need to revisit (just don't forget to delete the links before sending the document back to the client).

If you want to copy and paste just the formatting of something in your document, you can do that by using the "Format Painter" in your toolbar or ribbon bar (which, by the way, when double-clicked, "remembers" the formatting for more than one paste action), or you can press Ctrl+Shift+C to copy and Ctrl+Shift+V to paste.

Ctrl+Alt+V is also a helpful keyboard shortcut to paste something: It opens a dialog that gives you access to paste content in various formats, including unformatted text, which sometimes can be very helpful when pasting text from other sources, such as webpages or PDF files.

And lastly, since we are talking about unformatted text, one of the most helpful shortcuts in Word has to be Ctrl+Spacebar. This gets rid of all formatting. 



MateCat killed the tags

We already had the cleanest interface. Now we also got rid of tags.
MateCat uses Machine Learning techniques to handle the tags automatically.


The Last Word on the Tool Box Journal

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