A computer newsletter for translation professionals

Issue 9-1-132
(the one hundred thirty-second edition)
1. Transit, the NXT (Premium Edition)
2. InDesign for Translators
3. Trados Shortcut Magic
4. Tweak VI
5. Green Eggs and Spam
6. System Fonts
7. A Love Story (continved)
The Last Word on the Tool Kit
No Idea

I had no idea of the influence spiraling out from Jeromobot's presence on YouTube. It was touching to learn that the Pope had opened a YouTube channel last week -- no doubt in reference to Jeromobot's channel. I did mention the dramatic developments with Jeromobot last week, and I was finally able to capture it on video. See for yourself.

1. Transit, the NXT (Premium Edition)

I have mentioned before that Star, the maker of one of the veteran TEnTs -- Star Transit -- has been working on a completely updated version of their tool, Star Transit NXT. I had seen it demonstrated a number of times, and based on that I mentioned that the user interface has been completely revamped. Now that I've had a chance to look more closely, I've found that a good number of other things have changed as well.

The UI looks ultramodern: it's the no-menu, ribbon-style interface that we have already seen in Office 2007, complemented by a "resource bar" at the bottom of the windows with quick access to often-used features and settings and toolbars on the sides that give you access to so-called "floating windows" -- windows that briefly pop up and then disappear unless you make them stay by clicking on a thumbtack icon. When Office 2007 was released the ribbon feature drew quite a bit of criticism because it was so different from before, but I suspect that Transit will not experience the same backlash. Many folks are now accustomed to the look of Office 2007, and for Transit, a tool that is full of features you would never know about unless you spent time going through the menus, the more proactive way of displaying features in the ribbon bar makes a lot of sense. Plus, it puts an end to the very old-fashioned look and feel that the previous versions of Transit had.

By the way, the same new look has not been achieved with the help system, which is in a terrible state. To say that it's retro would put way too much of a positive spin on it: I was not even able to launch it from within Transit itself! Fortunately there are a number of online video-based tutorials that are quite helpful, though they are hard to use because of their immense size. I hope that Star will make those available to (potential) customers on a CD.

Here are some of the new, behind-the-UI concepts that are introduced with this new version of Transit:

·         "Dual Fuzzy" search

·         Terminology database based on markup information

·         User role-based system

·         Preview in HTML/PDF/XML

·         Localization formats

·         TBX and XLIFF support

·         Editable keyboard shortcuts

Let's go through this list from the bottom to the top:

·         One of my major gripes about the old version of Transit was that you were not able to customize keyboard shortcuts. Well, now you can. Under Transit button> User preferences> Customize, you can select the Customize button to change keyboard shortcuts. While the feature does not seem to be completely ready (for instance, it does not show the current key combination), it works fine. This feature is very helpful because it allows you to customize Transit to the keyboard combinations of another TEnT, in case you use it only as a secondary tool.

·         TBX support is very nice. Most of you know that TBX is the terminology exchange format (comparable to TMX for TMs). So far Transit had only supported MARTIF, which is the precursor to TBX. It looks as though TBX might have finally "made" it with this recruitment of another of the major tools, especially one like Transit's TermStar with its large terminology component. Congratulations.

XLIFF is also supported at the same level than Transit's own "packaged" project files.

·        The localization formats that are now supported (well, actually not "now" -- the version that I have does not support this feature yet) include EXE and DLL files, RC files, and WinHelp RTF and Word files. I am not sure that the localization tool vendors should be terribly afraid of competition from Transit. While Transit offers some features like resizing available, it obviously does not have the breadth of features for these formats that tools like Passolo and Catalyst have. Plus I am not sure how relevant EXE and DLL files still are (and especially WinHelp Word and RTF), when so much localization is now happening in completely different formats. Still, it will be a nice feature once it works.

·         The preview feature also will be nice -- but I could not get it to work on my machine. I have seen it work in demos, though, and it is essentially a feature that allows you to pull up one of those floating windows mentioned above and see the real-time result of your translation in correct formatting and context in PDF, HTML or -- if you have the appropriate stylesheet -- XML. Quite helpful. What I will be interested in once it works is how resource-heavy this feature is -- particularly when it comes to PDFs.

These have been the "nice-that-they-have-that-too" features. Now on to the big ones:

·         There is much emphasis on a roles-based system in Transit. When you open the program, it asks you what role you would like to take on. It comes with about 12 different pre-configured ones (such as Project Manager, Translator, Reviewer, Alignment Specialist, or Terminologist), but you can configure as many as you like yourself. Each user role gives you access to the set of features that that kind of user needs while graying out the undesired features. It's easy to switch your role (if your role does indeed allow for that) by selecting the User Roles button on the resource bar. I could imagine that this feature will be quite welcome and helpful in corporate settings.

·         It took me forever to understand what's so new and different about Transit's new way of handling markup -- i.e., numeric codes that store information about the formatting or other internal coding within a segment. While it's different and more user-friendly than in earlier versions of Transit, it did not seem so different from the way Déjà Vu, MemoQ, or SDLX handle markup. Finally I realized that Transit is using the markup system to also build up a project-internal terminology database. If you have a very markup-intensive text, this might come in really handy because it will make sure that you always use the same term for any word or phrase that contains markup. The matches are displayed alongside the "normal" terminology matches.

·         The dual fuzzy system also took me awhile to understand, but now that I've gotten it I REALLY like it. I think that it's real progress in the way TEnTs process translation memory data. Of course, strictly speaking Transit does not have any "translation memory" since it only refers to reference material that consists of earlier projects without having the language material sitting in an external database. Still, the concept is similar to accessing previous translation by "normal" database-based TMs. What is really different about the dual fuzzy system is that it not only looks in the source portion of the reference material but also in the target. Here is how it works: Let's say you don't have a perfect or a fuzzy match for a segment and you start to type the translation. As soon as you do that, Transit looks for matches in all target segments that contain the same translation data you are currently entering -- even if it is just two or three words -- and displays the sentences that contain them in a "bubble window" (which is essentially an overlaid window with the matches that you can now complete and enter as your final translation.) As soon as you have done that, the bubble window disappears (you can also make it go away by pressing Esc). This really is a new paradigm since it gives you on-the-fly access to data that was always there but not really used.

Very cool. I've played with this new version for a couple of hours but I haven't worked on it with very large projects. Once I do that, I'll report on what kind of resources are needed to do that kind of processing. I would suspect not too much, though, since previously reference searches in Transit were extremely fast and used few resources -- one of the benefits of the "other kind" of TM processing.

As far as pricing, there seem to be three different version -- Freelance Pro, Professional, and Workstation. The price list I was sent did not contain update prices for the "Smart" edition of Transit XV that I had been using -- I certainly hope that this was an oversight and it's still available. Also, as previously for any "special" filter -- such as for InDesign, FrameMaker, PageMaker, QuickSilver, AutoCAD, or the localization formats -- it has to be bought separately. Transit was never known for easy pricing structures and/or trial versions -- I had to sign a contract just for a silly trial version -- but we do what we need to do to get to the software we like, I guess.

Oh, and I will continue and deepen this review with Michael Benis in the form of a video conversation on TranslatorsTraining. Stay tuned.

2. InDesign for Translators

Reader Chris Philips just published a 60+ page ebook manual on processing InDesign files. It's very helpful with a lot of tips that I was not aware of, such as searching with wildcards or content on the InDesign Pasteboard. What I found regrettable is that it focuses only on Trados as a TEnT (even though it always refers to CAT tools in general) and refers only to InDesign CS2. Still, and especially if these are your tools, this is a very helpful reference book.



New User-Friendly Translation Memory Tool

Happy 2009!

Hidden 35% discount on all AIT products:

3. Trados Shortcut Magic

There was an interesting posting in the Translatum forum. Someone mentioned a good way to overcome the finger gymnastics one has to revert to on a laptop if you want to use the numeric keypad. The only way is by using the Fn key, which results in a combination well-suited for long-fingered Martians but not for us humble humans. This problem is particularly acute in tools that have some important keyboard shortcuts involving a "Num key," such as Trados with Alt+Num* and Alt+Num+. One way to solve this is by using a USB numeric keypad. It doesn't cost much, and the installation consists of nothing more than plugging in a USB connector. Another way -- and this is what I do -- is to use a full external keyboard with your laptop.

This works fine if you work from your primary work station all the time, but if you travel a lot with your laptop, it's a pain.

So here are two other solutions. If you primarily work in the Word interface of Trados, it's quite easy to simply record a macro that you can invoke every time you need to use the famous "Translate to Fuzzy" or "Set/Close/Open/Get" commands.

(To record a macro in Word 2003 and below, select Tools> Macro> Record New Macro. Enter a name for the macro under Macro name and a description down below. Then click Keyboard, and in the Commands box click the macro you are recording. In the Press new shortcut key box, type the key sequence, and then click Assign. Click Close and begin recording the macro by performing the Trados command. To stop recording your macro, click Stop Recording. For Word 2007 you'll need to first display the Developer tab in the ribbon by selecting Office Button> Word Options> Popular> Show Developer tab in the Ribbon, and then you'll find the Record Macro option in that tab.)

Another, slightly more radical solution is available for TagEditor. (I found this in a comment on the About Translation blog.) You can remap the keyboard combination in the TagEditor resources with a resource editor. As described in the blog entry, I tried this with Resource Hacker.

This is how it works: Make sure that TagEditor is closed, and open Resource Hacker. Select File> Open and select All Files in the Files of Type dropdown box. Navigate to C:\Program Files\SDL International\T200X_XX\TT\Lng (or wherever Trados is installed on your machine) and open TagEditor103X.lng (1031 is for the German interface, 1033 for English, 1034 for Spanish, and 1036 for French). In the left-hand pane, navigate to Accelerators>109>103X. If you want to change the dreaded Alt+Num* combination, locate the line


and change it to


to have it replaced by the Alt+1 combination. Then select Compile Script and save the file by overwriting the original one. Next time you open TagEditor your new key combination will be active.

Now, I did mention that you will need to make a backup file before you do this, correct? Also, did I mention that this voids any SDL warranty -- if there is such a thing? (I actually don't know this; I'm just mentioning it to be on the safe side!)

Still it's sort of fun to do and might save you some finger-cramping. After all, we are moving into the post-desktop-PC age, and why make things harder than they need to be?

There are only two drawbacks to this: You render your laptop almost unusable for another Trados user who might not be familiar with your shortcut idiosyncrasies, and you yourself will feel stranded on other computers. (I guess you could take your little .lng file with you, but that opens the door to many other cans of worms.)

4. Tweak VI

Most of you are familiar with Windows XP's Tweak UI -- a free and comprehensive set of tools that allow you to modify XP's behavior to your liking. It's fun to play with and it will probably lead you to a couple of places where you'll make changes that will lead to increased productivity.

The success of Tweak UI was such that Microsoft has been bombarded since the release of Vista with requests for a Tweak UI for that version of its operating system -- to no avail. However, I recently stumbled on Tweak VI -- a tool produced by a third party that does much of what a Microsoft version would do (and maybe even more). But let me first get some griping out of the way. There is a free edition that gives you many customizability options -- and probably enough for most. But of course there are also some paid editions, and the free version will certainly let you know that you would be VERY well-advised to upgrade. It's extremely annoying -- until you find the little check box that says Hide all features that are not accessible from my subscription level. And then: Peace.

Here are some of the things that I really liked: You can quickly access your MS Office and Windows installation key (this comes in very helpful sometimes), you can get super-fast access to all the Vista utilities (that you might not have even known existed), you can completely customize your mouse and folder behavior, you can synchronize your computer clock with a very accurate online timer, and on and on.

A couple of things that show that this is not a Microsoft product: You cannot only customize the behavior of Internet Explorer but also of Firefox, and you have a section called Nice but useless stuff in which you can deactivate all those memory-eating features for good looks. And even though my 13-year-old is presently under the impression that good looks is all that counts, you and I naturally know that productivity is a pretty desirable trade as well.

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5. Green Eggs and Spam

Radek Pletka, who is kind enough to repost this newsletter on his job list on Yahoo Groups, wrote this the other day:

I receive quite a few scam offers in my email. I forward them with details to several different addresses according to the domain. Yahoo works the best. When I forward it to abuse(a), they usually take action and shut it down, especially if the reply-to address is a Yahoo domain. Google at gmail-abuse(a) does a good job as well. Unfortunately, Microsoft provides terrible service at their abuse(a), abuse(a), and abuse(a) They always send a canned response from a non-hosted account, and they don't care about reply-to accounts.

Do you have some good advice on how to report this and force them to improve their act?

I don't. Does anyone among you?
6. System Fonts

After my recent focus on fonts, Carl Stoll wrote this:

Thanks for keeping me in the loop, tech-wise. À propos your latest Tool Kit edition, I was shocked when my Trados refused to operate after I had removed Arial font from the system. (...) Don't you think it contradicts elementary rules of prudence to make the operation of a program depend on something so arbitrary and unessential as the font?

I understand Carl's frustration, but it's one of those basic programming facts that we have to accept: There are a number of fonts that are necessary to operate the Windows system (or, for that matter, the Macintosh system).  Here are some very cleverly designed lists of the system fonts needed for Windows versions of up to XP, and here is a list of fonts for Vista. Some of these fonts are required for the user interface of the operating system directly (such as the new Segoe font for the Vista interface or Tahoma for earlier versions) and other fonts are required for various other aspects of the OS. Developers of applications that are installed on Windows, will assume that these fonts are present and can be used. All of the TEnTs that I am aware of come with a certain set of preconfigured fonts for the display of translation files, TM data, terminology data, etc. Typically this can be changed by the user, but if it is changed it should not be surprising when the application does not like it and goes down.

So, the moral of the story is this: don't touch those system fonts!

Something that does get under my skin is when applications install new fonts that they need for their own well-being and then don't display them correctly after all, like with my version of the German dictionary application PC-Bibliothek. But that's a whole different story . . .

Oh, and here is something positive about fonts: One really cool feature of Word 2007 is the ability to highlight some text and then just hover with the mouse over the different fonts in the open Font drop-down on the Home tab. The font of the highlighted text will change for preview purposes with each movement of the mouse. It's a great feature for selecting the right font.

7. A Love Story (continved)

Since we talked about Tweak VI (as opposed to Tweak UI) in this newsletter, I thought that this story was uniquely appropriate.

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The Last Word on the Tool Kit

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