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Strand Xmas lights

Unusually for me as a home-based freelancer, I made two trips up to London last week: the first to attend the SDL Roadshow near Paddington, and the second to attend the ITI German Network Christmas lunch near St. Paul’s. Both excellent networking opportunities and the ideal way to cheer up a grey and dreary (dare I say dreich outside Scotland?!) November, especially immediately after a lovely week in which my son and daughter-in-law were over for a fleeting visit from the US.

I’ve attended Trados Roadshows before, of course, and always pick up a lot of tips and tricks, even though I’ve been using Studio for around 8 years now. There are always new features and new apps that you just don’t get to hear about otherwise. These are free events, and invariably provide excellent refreshments, including a delicious buffet lunch, morning coffee and afternoon tea – as well as the opportunity to bring your own laptop and troubleshoot problems with technical experts if you feel the need.

I’d missed the first two sessions by the time I’d trekked in from the rural hinterland of Kent/East Sussex, but I knew from past experience that the sessions of most interest to freelancers tend to be the product functionality and training ones which started mid-morning.

Sure enough, the first session before the morning break looked at new apps available on the SDL AppStore. How many of us actually take the time to trawl regularly through the app store and see whether there’s anything new that might be helpful? I know I rarely do, unless I’ve received a direct recommendation from a colleague. So this brief review of the most recent or most popular apps was extremely enlightening. There are now over 300 apps available, and if, like me, you’re wondering why they don’t just include these as new features in the basic program, especially if they’re free, as most of them are, the answer actually does make sense. The idea is for each customer to be able to customise the program to suit their own requirements: not everyone will have the same needs and, in an already function-laden tool, it makes sense only to load extra features if you’re going to use them.

Some of the new(ish) apps that took my fancy were as follows:

SDL Analyse, which enables you to analyse a file quickly without going through the hassle of setting up a job or project in Studio (which can be pretty time-consuming, especially when you’re just starting out). It installs a stand-along icon on your desktop and you simply import the file to be analysed there, add a translation memory/project template if you wish (or not!) and off you go;

SDLanalyse standalone view

Studio Time Tracker, which tracks the time you spend working on a Studio project. This won’t work on non-Studio projects, so don’t expect it to replace more generic apps like Time Stamp, or Toggl;

IATE Real-time Terminology, which provides a link to the EU’s IATE terminology database from inside Studio by adding it as a termbase, after which terms will be offered via Autosuggest, or in the term recognition box. Interestingly, the presenter commented that Multiterm was not for the faint-hearted, which struck me as a surprising thing to say. I can’t say I’ve had any problems either setting up my own termbases or using the excellent Glossary Converter (also one of the most popular apps downloaded from the AppStore) to convert my own glossaries, but clearly others have!

Along the same lines, another terminology app that sounded useful was TermExcelerator, which allows you to simply use an existing Excel spreadsheet as a termbase. However, you can’t then add new terms on the fly, which I’d regard as a major disadvantage, although of course you could use this option as a quick fix in conjunction with other termbases, and set one of the others as the main termbase to which any new terms would be added.

Another app that sounded very promising was Wordlight, which allows you to highlight with different colours than the preset yellow option, which is the only one currently available via the cumbersome Quick insert button. This app puts a new button on the Home ribbon (or you can use a keyboard shortcut), and then if you want to highlight using a number of different colours, you can – with the added bonus that you can then filter for these highlight colours via the invaluable Community Advanced Display Filter, which I wrote about here.


Wordlight button

One thing that’s worth noting when downloading new apps is to click on Save file rather than Open with after downloading and double-clicking on the exe file. This should bring up the Install wizard, whereas if you just click Open, it often doesn’t – as I’ve found to my cost many times!

After this fascinating onslaught of new information, it was time for the morning coffee break and an “interesting” networking game: we hadn’t been given our badges on arrival, as is usually the case, but were handed random badges on our way to coffee and invited to track down our own by talking to other attendees! A novel concept, but one that would have been much better if the lettering on the badges had been bigger and bolder, so you didn’t have to peer at other delegates’ chests. With over 100 people in attendance, it was always going to be a tall order to chat to enough people to recover your own badge in the short coffee break, although I did point people in the right direction of colleagues and it certainly got us all talking! A German Network colleague kindly retrieved mine for me, and I swapped my given badge with its rightful owner, but failed to place the badge I was given in return. Another disadvantage was that I encountered lots of old friends and colleagues, and others I’d met online, including clients, in the process, but felt constrained to find my badge, so didn’t chat to them as much as I’d have liked to. I’m sure it was a great icebreaker for first-time attendees or newcomers to the profession, though.

The next session looked at new features in Studio 2019, including better fuzzy matches by taking into account the effects of plurals (e.g. effet du facteur commercial > effet des facteurs commerciaux in French, which might not previously have come up as a useful match). Spaced-out text is also now recognised as a match, which could be helpful for pdf conversions where surplus spaces often slip through the net.

One new app that had completely passed me by was the SDL Business Manager and Business Manager Lite, which allows you to create detailed quotes and invoices from within Studio. It struck me that this could be a potential replacement for other project management software and would make perfect sense to have it within Studio, thus wiping out an extra step in the admin process. I currently use TO3000, but have been experiencing problems downloading and using my old version on my new computer (of which more in my next post), so this is definitely something I will be investigating. I did ask during the presentation about reporting capabilities, but was told that wasn’t possible with the Lite version, while the full version has far more functions than I need as a freelancer. I’ll report back when I’ve experimented in more detail.

Business Manager featuresOther new functions include the free SDLXLIFF Split/Merge app, which allows you to split and then merge large xliff files if you want to share or outsource part/s of a larger file. This is in addition to the existing ability to “virtually merge” all files in a project by highlighting the files in the file list and right-clicking Open for translation (or clicking in the ribbon), so you can work on them together, as I explained here. What often intrigues me about these sessions is how many colleagues don’t know about seemingly basic functions, but of course many of us are self-taught or have attended basic webinars or specific training sessions and then just added other features as we need/come across them. That’s another excellent reason to attend a roadshow – I don’t think I’ve ever been to one where I haven’t picked up at least one useful tip – and there were certainly lots of lightbulb moments among the audience during this session.

Other quick tips were to use Alt Shift A to quickly change all segment statuses; I have occasionally inadvertently changed all segment statuses to Translated by mistake, which makes it a pain to move to the next untranslated segment. This tip would make it much easier to revert, rather than the time-consuming method of going to the start of the segment number column, then scrolling down to the end, while holding shift and clicking in the last segment, before right-clicking to change status, especially in very long documents which require a lot of scrolling – phew! Incidentally, the Segment Status Switcher app is another goodie: it sits on the ribbon and allows you to change status in just one click rather than all the right-clicking, although sadly it can’t be used with multiple segments, so wouldn’t work with this shortcut.

Last but not least was the TuToTm app, which appears in every view once installed and allows you to translate a couple of sentences for a client, such as an e-mail or quick addition, without creating a document or setting up a project.

Lunch (excellent as always) saw another networking game – entirely optional, of course, although, with the added lure of chocolate prizes, quite a few people did take part. This was a networking bingo, where you had to enter people who tick certain attributes, e.g. have been to SDL roadshows in more than one city, who actually like working with machine translation, or who translate from more than 3 languages. Again, I got side-tracked by talking to people I actually knew or had wanted to meet, but another useful exercise for newbies.

The afternoon’s session covered a lot of ground, including a lot of information on Groupshare and teamworking that wasn’t as relevant for freelancers. I was merely resting my eyes, not sleeping, I promise, although it was extremely warm in the room at times…. Nevertheless, there were many hidden gems to be unearthed for those who remained alert throughout. Who knew, for example, that it’s now possible to translate Word file types with integrated Excel files, by ticking the option under the File Types > Word > Common tab: Extract content of embedded Excel files and sheets? There is also an embedded content processor tab at the bottom of the file types list if you want to exclude or include certain columns.

Studio can now process Photoshop files and offer a preview even if you don’t have Photoshop installed – not something I’ve been asked to do, but I can see it might be relevant for translators in certain fields.

And finally (if that weren’t enough for one action-packed day!), troubleshooting has now got a whole lot easier with the arrival of the Freshstart app. If you experience any odd behaviour or glitches in Studio (which might be to do with another conflicting program, not just Studio itself), this is (apparently – I haven’t tried it yet!) a relatively safe and painless way of reinstalling without having to enter into the realms of registry files yourself. A Very Good Thing, in my opinion.

Attending the event often brings up unexpected bonuses in the form of discount on products too – I already had Studio 2019, but attendees were offered a very reasonable 40% off the product just for attending.

Definitely a case of information overload at the end of a busy day, but rereading my notes has been a very instructive experience and made me add lots of new features that I can see will be extremely useful. Why not give them a whirl?

Emma and Sarah

GerNet colleagues Sarah Silva & Emma Morris at the SDL Roadshow


P.S. And the GerNet Christmas lunch? A much more sociable affair, but equally good to network with colleagues old and new and meet up with some faces I’ve only met online before. Well done to Angela Rimmer for organising the whole shebang, including tracking down the delightful alpine-themed venue, The White Haus. I’m glad I don’t have to commute up to London every day, but I quite enjoyed my two trips up to the capital this week – and there’s always the added introvert’s bonus of being able to read your book on the train 🙂

GerNet Xmas lunch 2019