Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Importing AutoText Entries in SDL Trados Studio

SDL Trados Studio is most useful during the translation process when we have added as many resources and assets to it as possible. One of these resources are AutoText entries, which, when present, can save us typing time as they are offered in the list of AutoSuggest hits.

AutoText entries can be added on the fly to the active target language list by selecting the appropriate word or phrase and pressing Alt+F7, but if we already have a long list of entries, it is more efficient to import the entire list at once, as explained below.

First, we need to get to the right place where our entries will be imported. If we have SDL Trados Studio 2019, then that's as easy as typing "autotext" in the Tell Me box, which will take us to the appropriate setting. In versions older than 2019, we will need to navigate to the right place (shown below).

The window that opens next displays any existing AutoText entries for the selected target language. As you can see in the example below, my ES-ES list on this computer is pretty empty. Luckily, I keep a backup in Dropbox of my main computer's AutoText entries (which can also be exported from this same screen), so it's just a matter of importing it if I need to.

To import the list, click the Import button...

and find the file that contains the appropriate AutoText entries.*

*This is a plain text file, and we can easily open it in any text editor and make changes to its contents.

TIP: This being a very simple text file, we can also use the file for one language variant as the basis for a file in a different language variant, simply by changing the language codes inside the file.

After importing, we will see something like this, with the entries now being available to us as we type.

Typing the first four letters of an AutoText entry will bring it up in the AutoSuggest list while working in Studio.

Points to remember:

1. AutoText entries are monolingual (target language only)
2. The minimum threshold to display an AutoText entry in the AutoSuggest hit list is 4 characters typed.

And that's all we need to do to take advantage of this very simple way to save us some typing while working in SDL Trados Studio.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

SDL Trados Studio 2019: The new Tell Me feature

My favorite feature in SDL Trados Studio 2019 is Tell Me, which SDL has described as Instant Access to Everything.

I have recently learned that Trados has over 700 commands and 1300 settings. No wonder it feels so complex at times!

The good news is that most of those settings don't need to be changed all the time, but when they do, it definitely helps to know where to find them. In pre-2019 versions of Studio, that meant clicking through menus and various screens to get to the right place. In SDL Trados Studio 2019, it's as simple as starting to write a command's name, then clicking on one of the offered options, and you're there!

To access Tell Me, click on the new blue rectangle you'll find on the top right of the Studio screen, or use its shortcut. The default shortcut is Alt+Q, which I've changed to F1, as I rarely use Help and Tell Me includes links to Studio's Help anyway.

Let's look at a couple of examples.

Just yesterday, I was talking to a colleague about Match Repair, so I thought that would be a good example to try.

This is what I get if I type "match repair":

From here, I can go either to Options or Project Settings. I want to check my match repair settings for the current project, so I'll select the one for Project Settings, and by clicking on it, I get to this screen:

Bonus info: SDL Trados Studio 2019 offers the option to turn off termbases as a source of match repairs, as seen above.

So that took 2 clicks. Pre-2019, that would have taken a few more clicks, plus, I would need to know where to find the setting.

Let's try another example. This time, I type the word "Open", which displays 16 different commands. From here, I can perform a wide array of actions, such as opening a package, opening my file for review or opening a translation memory.

Note how there's always a "Search for x in Help" option at the bottom of the screen, so at any time, I can go from the Tell Me screen to Help. This comes in handy when you're trying to find something that isn't included in Tell Me. For example, I want to get to the date auto-substitution settings, but Tell Me doesn't show me that when I type in "date":

If I click on the offer to search for "date" in Help, I get this screen, where the second entry is what I'm looking for:

So that's the idea. Now, even before we type anything in, Tell Me offers five options:

These are all helpful, and in my case "translation memory" will be frequently used, as it provides access to a good number of commands and settings that I use all the time. I would like to see "terminology" or "termbases" included in this list as well (both are available if typed in), and hopefully SDL will further refine the default and search options in Tell Me as SDL Trados Studio 2019 matures.

I'll finish by saying that when I first heard about the concept for Tell Me, I wasn't necessarily excited about it. After all, I use Trados Studio everyday and I know how to get to the settings I need, but after I tried it for the first time, I was hooked! Now it takes no time to change Autocorrect settings (you'll see me typing "quotes" and "initial" often to change quotation mark format or first-letter capitalization settings). 

Like I've said before, among all the SDL Trados Studio 2019 new features and enhancements, Tell Me is my absolute favorite, and one that I think fulfills SDL's goal of improving the user experience.

New Project and File Management Features in SDL Trados Studio 2019

SDL Trados Studio 2019 is finally here! Over the next few days and weeks, we will be hearing about the new features and how the SDL team has worked to make the user experience better.

One set of new features that has immediately improved my own user experience is the one around project and file management. In this post, I'll explain three tasks that have been made simpler and faster in SDL Trados Studio 2019: Creating a new project, Adding a file to an existing project and Updating an existing file in a project.

1. Creating a New Project

The New Project Wizard has been redesigned. Below is a comparison of what we see after clicking Create New Project in Studio 2017 vs. Studio 2019:

It's immediately evident that the new wizard offers a lot more information and options. The initial screen gives us options to select the project languages, base our project on existing templates or previous project settings, name our project, select its location, and add files or folders, effectively allowing us to create a new project in one step.

Across the top of the new wizard we see 9 metro stations, each representing a different step in project creation. Should the one-step option not be enough, we can further customize our project settings by either clicking Next and running through each of the stations or by clicking on the appropriate station.

For example, here's what I see after I click on station 4:

After clicking Finish, which can be done at any point in the process, the project is created and we're presented with the following screen:

Now, you may notice those two buttons above the batch task list and wonder what they're for. In fact, the buttons are there in SDL Trados Studio 2017 as well, but they're less prominent, so this is not a new feature, just new placement of those buttons. Restart Preparation will only become active if something fails during the project creation process and the files need to be prepared again. Results will become active when you select one of the completed batch tasks, as shown below.

2. Adding a new file to an existing project

There's an enhancement in SDL Trados Studio 2019 around adding a new file to an existing project that may not seem like a big deal, but has already proven to be a time-saver for me.

In past versions of SDL Trados Studio, adding a new file involves 1) adding the file, 2) manually preparing the file for translation by selecting the appropriate batch tasks, 3) switching to the target language once the file had been prepared. This last step causes a lot of confusion among new users, who are often puzzled about why they can't open the file for translation after preparing it (answer: they're still in the source language view), and usually resort to measures such as closing and restarting Studio.

With the new Quick Add Files option, one simply selects the file and SDL Trados Studio 2019 handles steps 2 and 3 above. The process is so quick that it's often a "blink and you'll miss it" sort of situation, where it seems like I've just added the file and it's already showing in my target language, prepared and ready for translation.

The Quick Add Files option can be accessed via the context menu (right click) in the Files view or via the Add Files button in the ribbon, where Quick Add Files is now the default.

 See it in action here:

Note: For the Quick Add Files feature to work, files have to be added using either of the two options mentioned above. Files that are added via drag and drop will not be automatically prepared by Studio.

3. Updating an existing file in a project

This is another enhancement that I really like. I sometimes have clients send me an updated version of a file I'm already working on. In past Trados Studio versions, replacing the old file with the new one required several steps: 1) going to the source language, 2) deleting the old file, 3) adding the new file, 4) preparing the file, 5) switching to the target language.

With the new Update File feature in SDL Trados Studio 2019, this is all done in a couple of clicks. To access the feature, we need to select the file that will be updated, right-click and select Update File, then select the new file. After that, Studio 2019 handles the entire process for us.

Here's an example. I have the following in my original file:

When I receive an updated file from my client, I follow the Update File process, as shown here:

After this, when I open the file, I have the following, which includes the new text added by the client:

A word of caution about updating files and file names: Keep in mind that Studio will update the contents of the file, but will keep the same file name. In my example, my original file was called "This is a file for translation", while the new file was called "This is a file for translation_rev". After updating the file, the new text is there, but the file in Studio is still called "This is a file for translation". I think we can all imagine potential scenarios where this could be a problem, so one should be aware of this.

There are several other exciting new features in SDL Trados Studio 2019, which I hope to explore in future posts, but for now, I hope you'll find the project and file management features as useful as I have.

Monday, May 7, 2018

In Defense of AutoSuggest Dictionaries in the Time of Fragment Matches

I have seen some arguments that favor forgetting all about AutoSuggest Dictionaries now that we have UpLift fragment matching in SDL Trados Studio, and since I can't agree with this, I thought I'd write about why I think both should coexist instead.

I'll start this post by clarifying the difference between AutoSuggest and AutoSuggest Dictionaries.

This is SDL Trados Studio's functionality that allows the user to receive suggestions from multiple sources after typing the first letter or letters of the intended translation.

AutoSuggest settings are accessed via Options - AutoSuggest. Here, one can decide which providers to enable by checking or unchecking the appropriate boxes. Further settings are available for the Translation Memory and Automated Translation provider, where one can decide whether fuzzy and concordance matches should be used, for example.

AutoSuggest Dictionaries
As we can see in the screenshot above, AutoSuggest Dictionaries are one of the AutoSuggest providers one can use.

AutoSuggest Dictionaries need to be created by selecting a translation memory and following the Create AutoSuggest Dictionary wizard found in the Translation Memories view. Once the creation process is started, Studio will automatically handle phrase extraction with no user intervention.

At the end of the process, a *.bpm file will have been created, which will then need to be added via Options/Project Settings-Language Pairs-Specific Language Pair to be available as an AutoSuggest provider.

There are two things worth noting here:

  1. The actual contents of the AutoSuggest Dictionary are somewhat of a mystery, as one cannot browse or edit the content in any way.
  2. In order to create an AutoSuggest Dictionary, Studio must have the appropriate functionality installed. However, even if a user can't create AutoSuggest Dictionaries, they can still use dictionaries shared by others.

The case for AutoSuggest Dictionaries
While the amazing technology behind fragment matches (available since Studio 2017) has made a great difference as recently entered translations are offered as AutoSuggest hits, I have found that fragment matches are not necessarily a substitute for well-curated AutoSuggest Dictionaries, as the suggestions from both sources tend to differ and in some cases AutoSuggest Dictionaries offer more relevant hits.

To illustrate this, I've collected several examples from an actual project I'm working on. The TM I'm using for this project (and where the fragment matches are coming from) is the same TM that was used to create the active AutoSuggest Dictionary. So I guess that would mean that if UpLift fragment matching really makes AutoSuggest Dictionaries redundant or obsolete, we would see the same suggestions coming from both, or, at the very least, the suggestions from the AutoSuggest Dictionary would not be as useful, right? Let's see.

Have a look at this example, where the source text contains the phrase "prescription medications", and the following AutoSuggest entries are offered.

Green icon = Termbase     Green and yellow icon = Fragment matches    Blue icon = AutoSuggest Dictionary

The backtranslation of the above is:
medications and 
medications and
medications (I'm guessing, this one isn't in Spanish!)
prescription medications
prescription medications
prescribed medications

As we can see, there are suggestions coming from the termbase (1) and fragment matches (4, although the last one is certainly not Spanish), but the most valuable suggestions are the first 3 coming from the AutoSuggest Dictionary.

Here's another instance from the same project, triggered by typing the first letter for the translation of the word "treatment", where the AutoSuggest window doesn't even include any fragment matches.

Without the AutoSuggest Dictionary, all those suggestions would be lost.

And here's yet another instance, where we can see that sometimes only the AutoSuggest Dictionary returns hits.

In the example below, I get both fragment matches and AutoSuggest Dictionary hits, but while the fragment match is close, the exact one I need "salir del hospital" (no punctuation) comes from the dictionary.

I could add many more examples, but I think this illustrates my point. While fragment matches via UpLift technology are an incredibly valuable resource during translation, they do not render AutoSuggest Dictionaries obsolete or useless, and we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we stop using them because of this misconception. We should definitely take advantage of both for a richer AutoSuggest experience.

Friday, April 27, 2018

How can I improve my English?: 5 strategies for improving your fluency

This post is a bit different from my usual content, which focuses on translation and the technology that makes translators' lives easier, but before becoming a full-time translator and interpreter I was an English teacher and a teacher trainer, so this is something I'm also very passionate about.

During one of my interpreting assignments this week, someone asked a question I often get at these events: how can I improve my English?

The woman who asked this question explained that she had completed close to 400 hours of English lessons but she still felt unable to speak the language confidently and fluently.

It's been a while since I've taught English, and a couple of years since I've done teacher training work, but this is the advice I always give to those interested in improving their fluency, so these are the strategies I shared with her.

1. Find a private tutor. When you've taken so many hours of English instruction, it's going to be hard to find a class in a language school that will be appropriate for your level. What you need at this point is to activate all the language you have learned, and private lessons, tailored just for you, may be what helps you finally do that.

2. Practice with yourself. This is one that I used a lot when I was first learning English. You know all that self-talk we engage in? Instead of doing it in your native language, try doing it in English. Out loud. When? When you're driving your car (by yourself, of course, otherwise your passengers may think you're going insane), when you're alone in the house, when you're in the shower, anywhere and any time you can think of. If you run out of self-talk topics, pretend you're a guest in a talk show, recreate a conversation you had earlier with someone, narrate the plot of your favorite movie. The idea is to get you talking. This has the benefit of helping you realize all the ways in which you are able to use English, as well as any gaps you need to fill. Was there a word you wanted to say but don't yet know how to say it in English? Look it up and try again to say what you wanted to say.

3. Listen to TED Talks. I always recommend TED Talks because you can find talks on practically any subject that you find interesting and you can find an appropriate length for the time you have. My suggestion is to take a three-step approach: first, listen to the TED Talk without using subtitles. Listen intently, try to grasp the main ideas, but also try to identify any parts that may be a bit hard to understand. Take notes if you can. Then listen a second time, now with subtitles on, preferably in English. Don't be shy to pause the video and take note of any words that escaped you during your first round. Don't just write them down, say them as well. Try to say the whole sentence that contains the new word(s). When you're done with round two, listen a third time, pause the video at appropriate points and repeat what the speaker just said. Once you're done, you can combine this strategy with the previous one and pretend telling someone what the talk was about.

4. Don't be afraid to talk. Don't be embarrassed, either. Native English speakers tend to be very tolerant of our mistakes. And many of the English speakers you'll come across are not native speakers either. You don't have to wait until you have a perfectly constructed utterance in mind to speak. Like with so many other things, the best thing is to... Just Do It! You'll be amazed at how much better you are at speaking English than you thought you would be.

5. Read. Reading increases our vocabulary and makes us accustomed to the structure of English. This, in turn, makes it easier for words and sentences to flow when we're trying to speak. If you can, also write. One of the most helpful incidental activities to improve my English when I was studying to get my degree was writing. I had to write essays in English practically every day for four years. I'm pretty sure the first ones were not very good. But as time goes on, reading and writing enrich our language and help us become better listeners and speakers.

Whatever you do, be persistent. Language learning is always more successful when you practice it constantly.

PS I realize the irony of writing this in English when the intended audience is people who want to improve their English, so I promise I will post a Spanish version soon.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Do you speak Trados?

One of the most frustrating things for me when I was first learning how to use Trados was not knowing the jargon when I was trying to ask a question or discuss an issue. Now that I've become a bit more familiar with SDL Trados Studio, I find that colleagues who are new users also struggle with this. These short definitions are my contribution to help improve this issue.

There are only a few for now, but I'll be adding more definitions over time.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

When One Keyboard Isn't Enough

Today I thought I'd share with you a little toy I have sitting next to my keyboard that makes my life a little easier: an X-Keys keypad. It looks just like this:

What is it?
You can probably tell just by looking at it: it's 24 additional programmable keys. So, does that mean you can program 24 actions/macros/functions with an X-Keys keypad? No, you can actually program more, as each key can be programmed to do something different depending on which application is open, plus there are layers.

The keypad is programmed with a bundled program called MacroWorks 3.1. Here's a list of features from the manufacturer's website:

The keys are backlit, and you can choose either blue or red, and even choose the backlighting on an individual key basis. I have turned off the backlighting altogether, so that's also an option.

What do I use it for?

First, I have to say that even though I have all these keys at my disposal, I find myself using about half most of the time, the bottom half to be precise, and also sometimes the right column. The bottom right key is my "Confirm" key in the various CAT-tools and environments I use: SDL Trados Studio, as my main CAT tool, but also Wordbee, MemSource and occasionally MemoQ. Other SDL Trados Studio related actions include frequent actions, such as Concordance, Quick Add New Term or Filtering. Other keys perform functions such as:
  • Launch the Find and Replace dialog
  • Open specific folders
  • Launch or switch focus to specific programs
  • Type characters that are not readily available on my Spanish keyboard layout, such as >, <
  • Dedicated keys for straight and curly quotation marks, so no more switching between the two kinds
  • Launch AutoHotkey macros (particularly useful when I assign a finger-bending key combination to an AHK script, such as Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Q)
  • Mouse left and right clicks
  • Zoom in and out in programs like InDesign
  • Copy, cut, paste
  • Backspace
You get the idea... Here's a partial list of my key assignments:

How difficult is it to program?
Not difficult at all! You just open MacroWorks, either by pressing a little button on the back of the keypad or via Windows, and you can go to an interface where you choose a key, assign an action to it and save it. Key assignments can be stored in the hardware itself or in the software. 

To make things easier while programming your keys, there are four options to enter a macro event: Text, Keystrokes, Shortcut, Function, all quite self-explanatory.

Here I'm assigning a button to launch BaccS, my translation management software:

My only complaint* is that when I first got my keypad, MacroWorks was perfectly functional and responsive, so much so that I would often change key assignments depending on what I was doing, since it could be done in seconds, but at some point, it started getting really slow, and now it takes a bit (or a lot) of patience to add new key assignments, as the software has become quite unresponsive, even with the latest updates. I would show you a little video, but it might be more fun to watch paint dry. Really, it's that slow, at least on my system. This doesn't seem to be a widespread issue, though, and I probably just need to find the time and the right support to troubleshoot it.

*Update: Writing this post inspired me to seek some support with my issue, and PI Engineering replied to my email quickly, offering a solution, which worked perfectly, so MacroWorks is quite fast once again. If you use Windows 10 and are experiencing speed issues with MacroWorks, see the bottom of this post for the fix.

Final words
My X-Keys keypad is one of my favorite computer add-ons. When I'm on the road, I really miss it and can feel the difference it makes when I'm back and using it again. It's one of those little things that can help increase productivity. And every little bit counts!


Fix for the MacroWorks 3.1 speed issue in Windows 10, as provided by P.I. Engineering support:

First lets elevate some permissions and run the software in “compatibility mode for WIN 7” . Go here C:\Program Files (x86)\PI Engineering\MacroWorks 3.1  and for the following entries:
MacroWorks 3 Launch
MacroWorks 3g
MAcroWOrks 3r
Right-Click and select “Properties>Compatibility Tab” place a checkmark in the “Run this program in compatibility mode for: (Win7)” box and the “Run this program as an administrator” box, then select “Apply” and reboot the computer entirely for the changes to take effect.