Come promesso nel post precedente, ma con un po' di ritardo, riporto qui sotto un breve saggio che ho scritto. Tratta diverse caratteristiche di DVX3 e di SDL Trados Studio sotto il punto di vista dell'efficienza, prendendo in considerazione sia il punto di vista di un traduttore freelancer che quello di un project manager.
Spero possa essere utile a qualcuno anche se è scritto in inglese!
Original by: Marina Brunello
Comparison and discussion on the most relevant functions of DVX3 and SDL Trados Studio designed to increase the efficiency of professional translators and PMs in large projects.
Computer Aided Translation tools (CAT tools) are designed to help operators in the translation sector to work more efficiently (Bowker, 2002: 4). The first CAT tools were designed in the 70s, but were available for public use during the 90s; soon after they made their way and became a market themselves. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to examine two of the most used programmes, DVX3 and SDL Trados Studio 2015 (called respectively DVX3 and Trados in this essay) to critically discuss the functions designed to increase the efficiency of professional translators and Project Managers (PMs). I will consider the main objects that undergo modifications in and out CAT tools, namely content, Translation Memories (TMs) and Terminology Databases (TDs).
Efficient is defined as “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense” (Oxford Dictionaries); in the translation field this can be expressed as trying to increase productivity without wasting time to achieve a result. According to a research carried out by Proz website in 2003 (Tabor, 2013), 93% of CAT tools users think these programmes can help to increase productivity. The diverse functions of CAT tools are key for professional translators and PMs: they can either have a long learning curve or facilitate an intricate process. Also, they are a crucial factor when making a purchase, because different CAT tools are designed for different professionals.
To understand how these programmes can help translators to be more efficient in their job, creating a new project from scratch gives a pretty clear overview. The two programmes taken into account seem quite similar, however the idea behind them is based on different concepts. They both can create a fully structured project, however, in the wizard ‘New Project’. Trados gives the option of creating a project (a .sdlproj file) that can contain even just one file. In this way once PMs create projects they can directly send packages to translators. Unfortunately, in DVX3 adding files is only possible after a project has been created in full (a .dvprj file) and, as shown in, newly-created projects result empty. This means that PMs need to spend additional time adding files. As a result, Trados seems to better ensure efficiency because its features can save time that would otherwise be spent on setting projects.
In the usual project management workflow, after negotiations have taken place, some functions of CAT tools become essential. Although PMs try to avoid this task, it is possible that while managing extensive translation projects, big files need to be divided into small sections in order to have them translated as quickly as possible, by several translators. With regard to files in Word or in other easy-to-use formats, the splitting can be done manually, however for HTML files, CAT tools seem to be a valuable ally. Managing a project completely in DVX3 may be an advantage at this stage; it offers the option Divide and Dispatch, which creates packages of different formats of similar length, from an existing project. However, the exact same project needs to be opened in DVX3, otherwise the programme will not recognise the returning files and it will be impossible to have a functioning target file.
As for Trados, a similar function is completely absent. The SDL XLIFF Split/Merge application is available on the SDL website, nonetheless it has to be purchased. Even though it seems absurd that such a simple and essential function is not included in a renowned programme, there are a few solutions for this problem. Regarding HTML files, it is necessary to use a HTML editor (for example NotePad++) and to have a little knowledge of HTML encoding. PMs will only need to split the body (the main text, not the format tags) and paste the split parts of the text into other copies of the same file that will have the exact same tags before and after the body.
Another possible solution could be based on interoperability, as described by Bowker (2002: 125) and ensured by CAT tools developers. This concept is ensured through using the XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF). For this reason, PMs needing to split files should be able to use the above-mentioned function of DVX3, work on the split files in Trados and finally remerge them in DVX3. Sadly, this process cannot take place because interoperability is occasionally unrealistic as DVX3 can refuse any file format coming from Trados. This situation is quite frequent in this sector and it may be argued that CAT tools should meet more the translators and PMs’ needs. They should offer a ‘complete package’, i.e. full workability for professionals, with no need for them to use additional programmes that are not in their competence area.
PDF files are mentioned in many translation magazines as source of problems when working with CAT tools, luckily I had the opportunity to try to use them in my short experience as PM. When tested, both the aforementioned programmes did not “react” in the hoped way. DVX3 initially accepted the PDF files into projects, however the Preview instantly showed that the format had been altered: some lines were not positioned in the right place, the original capital letters were not maintained and some parts of the text had not been imported. These changes are clear: the export (on the right) of the source file (on the left) is not correct and to have a fully functional target file alteration and editing are necessary.
With Trados the process is slightly different: initially it accepted PDF files into a project and let the translators work on them easily; the segmentation and format of the text did not present issues. Nevertheless, while exporting the files into PDF two situations arose: in the first one the exported file was completely damaged and impossible to open; in the second one the final wizard of Trados reported two errors and the file could not be exported. Although the quickest solution seemed to be a manual merge of the files, a bit of research could have lead me to ABBYY SmartCAT. As stated in the magazine MultiLingual (2015), this programme is “the best PDF workaround offered among translation environment tools”: converting files into Word or .txt files is the quickest and safest way to work with PDFs, even if some editing is always necessary in the final target text. Sadly, this programme excluded HTML and XML formats from the range of convertible files, making it incomplete. On this matter, it is not clear if efficiency was one of the goals of software developers, or if they could not find how to deal with this format. With its latest version Trados included direct support for OCR-based (optical character recognition) importing of scanned PDF files, but it still needs improvements, as at the moment it takes longer to import certain files than to translate them.
Sharing files is always very important as “TM Systems can be networked, which means that several translators working on the same document or working for the same agency can share TMs, thereby maintaining consistency within the group” (Bowker, 2002: 117). Consequently, CAT tools should offer some sort of function that can let PMs share files easily. On one hand, DVX3 offers TEAMserver, a function that works through Déjà Vu licenses, assigned to translators, so that every member of the team can normally work in DVX3 and link their project to the TEAMserver databases. In this way TMs, TDs and text can constantly be updated, making the work smoother. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, this function did not work during the Project Management and PMs had to use the Divide and Dispatch function, which is limiting because it does not offer any kind of internet-based platform where files can be uploaded, but it still needs emails to share files. This process, in big scale projects can create confusion and is not efficient at all: it can be time-consuming and lead to errors while managing many translators. Besides, the system of licenses on which TEAMserver is based could be the perfect option to guarantee efficiency if it was considered reliable.
On the other hand, Trados partially solves the problem, offering the function GroupShare, namely “a multicomponent solution that combines SDL’s Translation Memory Server, Terminology Server and Project Server amalgamated within one environment” (Multilingual, 2015). However, its price is very high and not many agencies use it; it is very popular in bigger environments such as multinational companies or companies that can afford it and can justify its purchase. That been said, none of the programmes are optimal in this field, what they offer is partial and is not aimed at ensuring either efficiency or quality. As a result, many professionals tend to use web-based CAT tools such as MateCat or Wordbee that are oriented towards real time collaboration and a faster pace. In my experience using Google Drive has helped to minimize the amount of emails, making the process of delivering files, TMs and TDs instant. Also, it has been possible to respect translators’ privacy keeping their folders private, there they could upload deliverables and financial documentation so then their PMs could see them.
The second part of this essay is aimed at discussing how TMs and TDs can be exchanged between professional translators and which programme is the most suitable to do so.
Translation Memories, defined as “a multilingual text archive containing (segmented, aligned, parsed and classified) multilingual texts” (Quah, 2006), are very important when translating with CAT tools as they can speed up the translation process while ensuring consistency. Even in this area the two CAT tools have different priorities: they both accept the Exchange format that allows translators and PMs to exchange TMs in the .tmx format, but in different ways. The most outstanding difference is how TMs can be accepted by these programmes. Trados is quite efficient from this point of view: although it does not accept the format .tmx directly, it can be converted into the .sdltm format. The other option is to create a new TM in .sdltm and populate it with the content of the already existing TM in .tmx. This is fairly convenient while setting a project because the translator will have a TM available that he/she already knows and in the most appropriate format.
Additionally, another plus side of Trados is the function Any TM, available when adding TMs to a project. It allows translators to work with any relevant TMs available for a specific language pair. For example, if a professional translator has a translation project from Russian (RU) to English (UK), with this function he/she can use a translation memory from English (UK) to Russian (RU); this can be very helpful as a base from which to start the translation.
Unfortunately, this function is not available in DVX3 and the locale of the languages selected determines for the language pair; adding other TMs that have a different locale or the language pair inverted seems impossible.
In fact in DVX3 things work slightly differently because the function that converts .tmx format into a format that is understandable for the CAT tool is not offered. The only option that a translator has is to populate an existing TM. The process is very simple and almost instant, as shown in the capture below. However, it is clear that having the chance of simply converting a TM into the required format, in some cases, can make things simpler, therefore it ensures efficiency.
From a professional translator point of view, terminology management is crucial as it can determine not only the quality of a project, but also how efficient a translator can be. Before analysing how programmes deal with it, terminology needs to be defined as “a codified collection of terms” that are “arranged by concept” (Quah, 2006: 104). This because if terminology is well organised into different subject areas, i.e. medical or technical, it will be easy to understand which one to use and add to a project or decide whether or not to overwrite it.
The terminology management tool that determines the main difference between DVX and SDL is SDL Multiterm. It is a programme that is included in the SDL suite and can be easily integrated with SDL Trados. This programme is concept-based rather than term-based; it creates entries for each concept and allows to enter terms that can explain a concept in multiple languages.
MultiTerm is also a very useful tool because can be used by many different figures in the language sector such as PMs, translators, but mainly terminologists to make the project workflow easier. As for DVX3, its own terminology management system is already integrated; this makes the programme more project-focused instead of being designed for sharing relevant files in the translation process.
However, DVX3 has LEXICON that allows translators to extract potential useful terms from a source text and translate them before moving to the editor interface. This process can take some time at first, but with the autosuggest function activated, suggestions pop up while translating, making it faster and consistent. In SDL such a function is only available as an additional application called MutiTerm Extract, that is not included in the suite.
These two ways of managing terminology are quite different: DVX3 is project-based, it is, therefore, relevant having TM and TD project-related. Although the use of the .tmx format and the option of exchanging TDs through .xls and .txt formats is available, it is clear what software developers goal is. On the other hand, except for absent splitting files function, SDL appears more focused on sharing: packages, MultiTerm and the fact that TMs can be converted into another format makes it more convenient to use in large scale projects.
Overall, it is hard to determine which programme is the most efficient. For PMs, only a combination of them could be suitable for managing big projects: DVX3 for contents as sharing files is fairly simple and all the functions are included; Trados for reference material, such as TDs and TMs. While for professional translators, Trados is indeed more efficient because it encourages collaboration between professionals within the same sector and because of Multiterm.
Finally, the function that I would suggest is an already integrated web-based platform on which to share files. PMs and translators could easily exchange files without damaging their structures (as happens with protected email networks). This function should not need the net of licenses proposed by DVX3, but should be based on a Social Media structure, where every user has a profile containing private or public content. It would improve efficiency as no time would be lost in sending emails or troubleshooting. In addition, as SDL MultiTerm demonstrated that it was such a useful tool, having the opportunity to integrate it with other CAT tools would be very helpful. Not only would it improve interoperability between CAT tools, but it will also boost efficiency in several environments.
Bowker, L. 2002. Computer-aided translation technology: a practical introduction. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.
Oxford Dictionaries. [Online]. s.v. Efficient. [Accessed 16 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/efficient
Quah, C. K. 2006. Translation and technology. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
Sikes, R. 2015. SDL Trados Studio 2015: Changing the value proposition balance. MultiLingual. 155, pp. 12-23
Tabor, J. 2013. CAT tool use by translators: what are they using? 28 March. Translator T.O. [Online]. [Accessed 20/12/2015]. Available from: http://prozcomblog.com/2013/03/28/cat-tool-use-by-translators-what-are-they-using/
Zetzsche, J. 2015. ABBYY SmartCAT: Promising new contender not quite where it should be for a fully-released tool. MutiLingual. 151, pp.12-14