The final event in my trio of networking specials recently was the SDL Roadshow last Thursday. This was very different from the previous two events, being a corporate function, no expense spared, but completely free of charge to attendees. You may remember that I’d attended my first of these earlier this year, in May, and got a lot out of it, contrary to my (jaded) expectations! (See A Grand Day Out) So was this one any different? And would it be worth going up again so soon after the previous roadshow?
The answer was definitely YES: I’d gone up this time with a number of queries in my mind about the possibility of upgrading to the latest version of Trados, Studio 2015. This hadn’t been released on the previous occasion, although it was very much in the offing and we had heard a lot about it. This time, however, Studio 2015 is up and running, and so not only did we have an excellent and entertaining technical presentation on its key attributes from Lydia Simplicio, we were also able to listen to the experiences of other delegates over coffee or lunch – always a good opportunity to get down to the nitty gritty.
As at the ITI GerNet workshop, I learnt a couple of really neat tips and tricks. The problem with these highly complex CAT programs is that most translators, especially if self-taught, learn what they need to get by and barely scratch the surface of the tool’s capabilities. An event like this provides the chance to pick up on tricks you might have missed, whether in the formal presentation or in the Q&A session or by chatting to a colleague. For example, I discovered that you don’t need to go through the complex browsing process to open a file for translation: you can just drag and drop it into the Editor window! This applies not only in the new 2015 version, but in Studio 2014 too. Another guest had asked how she could change text she’d capitalised by mistake, and was amazed to hear that Shift +F3 would do the trick, toggling through the capitalisation options just as it does in Word – easy when you know! I just wish if would automatically correct itself when you mistakenly start a sentence in capitals, as Word does…
The main points of interest for me, however, lay in the explanations of the new features of Studio 2015 – that’s why I’d come, after all. I was very impressed by the sound of the Bilingual Excel file function, enabling you to process just certain columns of complex Excel files, retaining formatting and specifying a string length – something I know will definitely be useful for me, as I have a client who imposes these very specific requirements. Another extremely interesting feature was the ability to incorporate concordance matches in Autosuggest, which works alongside the Autosuggest dictionaries, but means you can leverage repeated phrases from your current translation, and specifically if you haven’t yet translated enough text in that particular TM to create an Autosuggest dictionary, or haven’t updated your Autosuggest dictionary recently for that matter. The ability to insert symbols/characters is a good idea, although I usually get round the problem by copying the source text. Improved OCR conversion of pdfs should be helpful too, although I do wish they’d resolved the issue of removing hard line breaks within Trados. I think I would still rather convert my pdf files separately using Abbyy or Solid and pre-edit them in Word before loading them to Trados. There were a host of other new features too, and I’m almost convinced to take the plunge and upgrade – I’m only hesitating because my Trados clients haven’t yet upgraded and I have tiny niggling doubts in my mind about whether Dragon will be as compatible with the latest version as it currently seems to be…
Technical presentations aside, I met up with many colleagues, old and new, at the roadshow, with the chance to catch up, exchange notes and generally talk shop. The event was in the same venue as last time, the Sofitel St. James Hotel off Pall Mall, a swanky 5* hotel with fittingly excellent facilities and an exceedingly good buffet lunch. The miniature raspberry-topped chocolate mousses in delicate dark chocolate cases were particularly delicious!
Inevitably, with an event of this kind, certain presentations might not be of interest to everyone; I found the talk on Passolo, the software localization program, irrelevant to me as a freelancer, and I’d deliberately arrived late to avoid the beginners’ session and the MT talk. That’s the joy of a free event, though – you don’t feel under any obligation to get your money’s worth and can pick and choose what you hope to get out of the day.
Where last time SDL had laid on a chocolate tasting to reward our attendance, this time we were treated to a cocktail mixology class. I’d taken the precaution of getting dropped off at the station so that I could enjoy this to the full (!) and it turned out to be a highly entertaining and professional masterclass from two very talented and amusing cocktail mixologists. We were invited up in groups of five to three well-stocked bars to create our own cocktails under expert guidance – great fun! And as a confirmed honey hater, I was so glad I went up first to make grapefruit and pomegranate margaritas, rather than the next offering of honey and basil fizz!
These are great bonding experiences, leaving you, in the literal sense of the word, with a nice taste in your mouth as you leave the event and wend your way home. But no-one is forcing you to buy the product, and if the sweetener in the form of a really enjoyable day up in London is the encouragement you need to put your hand in your pocket, then why not? To my mind, the product had already sold itself through the feature demonstration we received earlier. Attendees also received a voucher for 25% off the product’s retail price, another nice touch.
In the words of an elder statesman of the translating profession who I met again at the event this time, a gentleman who has long since retired from his senior role in industry, but is still happily translating and embracing new technology, “We should always make time for parties”. Indeed we should – mine’s another margarita, thanks!