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sdl-trados-2015

I know Studio 2015 was actually launched last summer and I’ve attended two SDL Roadshows about the features of the latest update to the Studio family in the meantime, but I’m always reluctant to embrace new technology, even when I’m sure there will be undoubted benefits in the long run! I suppose it’s human nature to remain within our comfort zone (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, etc, etc), but I was also, I must admit, very tempted by some of the features of the new version that I’d heard so much about – particularly the Bilingual Excel file functionality and Autosuggest from concordance matches from current TMs.

So what took me so long? I was involved in a number of very long projects over the latter half of last year and I know from experience that changing programs in the middle of a complex project can be a stressful experience. Laziness, too, I suppose – it was easier to stick with the status quo than set aside time to experiment with the new. Eventually, however, a month or so ago, I finally came to the end of my current crop of linked projects and decided that the time was ripe to take the plunge. I was also waiting for the go-ahead on a couple of more lengthy jobs, so it was very much a case of striking while the iron was hot – plus I had some valuable breathing space for once. I was also wary about whether my trusty Dragon would still work with the latest model, but conversations with colleagues at various events had reassured me on that front too.

One of the disadvantages of waiting so long after the launch to upgrade is that the special offers, including roadshow discounts, have long since ended – note to self: upgrade sooner next time! Still, I figured that the benefits would be worthwhile in terms of time saved and easier processing of certain complex files.

Rather stupidly, I decided to upgrade Trados on the same day that I also decided to upgrade Office from 2013 to 2016, having got heartily sick of the banner urging you to upgrade at the top of every Office window. Whilst this wasn’t a major problem in itself, it did mean that things weren’t quite in the same places as usual in either Trados or Office and in retrospect it would have been much less stressful to upgrade separately. (I also discovered a few weeks later that the latest version of Outlook doesn’t support POP3 e-mail settings, causing me no end of problems and frustration until I switched to IMAP – but that’s another story! See: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2016-outlook/fixed-3416-problems-with-pop-accounts-in-outlook/79e8177f-b04e-491e-9a82-ae5b6565d3c0)

I followed the extremely useful guidance given by Paul Filkin on his Multifarious blog and Emma Goldsmith on her Signs & Symptoms of Translation blog – and the whole process was actually quite streamlined this time round. Do read the instructions carefully: there’s no need to return your old licence for 2014, but you do in effect have to click on Upgrade twice to see the new licence. I also followed Paul’s advice and downloaded the Studio Migration Utility app from Trados OpenExchange, which transfers projects and TMs seamlessly from one program to the other. One tiny hiccup I did have (and this is probably just me!) was that I found the new version seemed to default to the old locations where I used to keep my Trados folders, rather than the more recent ones, which was rather unnerving until I realised (thanks again to Paul!). I do think that it’s far too easy in Studio to overlook where files are saved – it’s in very small print and it’s so easy to click and accept, only realising later that you’ve managed to save a project for one client in another client’s folders…. I’m sure it must create endless problems for newbies and I would personally rather it didn’t default to the previous folder you’ve been using, but forced you to choose a new folder each time. Just a thought….

Anyway, teething problems aside, what about the new stuff? I’m impressed! Dragon works a treat, and the new ability to capitalise the first letter of segments means you don’t need to say “Cap” at the start of each line, as used to be the case. I have Dragon 11.5 and find it still works really well, allowing me to dictate commands (Press Ctrl Enter, etc) as well as text, plus selecting text to change the spelling, format, etc. It seems the latest versions of Dragon aren’t quite so amenable, but I’m very happy with the performance of my fire-breathing friend.

Dragon and umbrella_cropped

One of the main reasons I had decided to upgrade was for the ability to process bilingual Excel files and I’m delighted on that score too. I have a client who sends me spreadsheets in which the English text needs to be typed into a column alongside the source column AND where the length of the target text should not exceed the length of the source. Previously, I used to process the Excel file in Studio by overwriting the source column, then export it to a new target column in the original file, and then run a string length checker on the two columns. If the target was longer, I invariably had to go back into Trados and amend and then re-export – or just amend the bilingual Excel and risk my TM not being up-to-date. Now, however, I can set the file type as a Bilingual Excel file, and under Common set the source and target files and any length limitation column (having first set up the string length formula in the source Excel file). It works beautifully, alerting me if the target segment is longer than the source as I move to the next segment – and should mean that my TM reflects what’s actually in the final Excel file – well worth the upgrade cost alone!

The Autosuggest from Concordance Matches in current TMs is a great addition too – you have to activate it under File>Options>Editor>Autosuggest/Translation Memory and Automated Translation, but again it works very well. It doesn’t replace the need to create Autosuggest dictionaries, but if you don’t update your AS dictionaries as often as you might, it can be useful!

The new version incorporates an Autocorrect facility, as in Word, which is handy if you forget to turn off capitals when you start typing, or have certain words you always misspell. Again File>Options>Editor>Autocorrect is where you can customise your settings (and this is also where you can opt to capitalise the first letter of segments for use with Dragon).

I’ve also found that the latest version copes better with capitalised / uncapitalised differences in Termbase entries too – whereas before it would only bring up a term if you had it capitalised in the termbase and started typing with a capital, now it seems more flexible. Number propagation seems to be improved too, propagating not only isolated numbers in segments, but also numbers in strings with letters too – not always, but a definite improvement. I still think Wordfast Classic’s Autosuggest for placeable strings, including proper nouns, phrases in brackets and number/letter strings has the slight edge on Studio, but as I seem to be doing more and more work in Trados these days because of its manifold other benefits, that’s a tiny niggle.

The only other slight issue I’ve had is with the new Insert Symbols option on the Advanced toolbar. For some reason, this isn’t visible when I’m typing in a new segment, but magically appears if I move my cursor over an already translated segment. As I usually copy the source text, this isn’t a huge problem, but it does seem odd – especially as, presumably, the place you might want to add a different symbol, not in the source, is in a new segment….

All in all, I’m delighted I took the plunge at long last – are you tempted?

taking the plunge

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