By Bridget Hylak, Administrator, ATA Language Technology Division
Members of ATA’s Lang Tech Division, in collaboration with the Professional Development Committee, welcomed Nicole Loney, Product Marketing Manager for RWS Group (formerly SDL/Trados), during ATA TEKTalks 1.4 on October 6, 2022. Approximately 275 people registered for the online event.
The fourth and final installment this year in the LTD’s quarterly series did not disappoint, as Loney discussed the past, present and future of the iconic platform known to linguists, translation companies, corporations and localization specialists worldwide.
Loney brought a healthy dose of optimism, clarity and passion to the table. Many RWS/Trados features and insights are intimately known to language pros, but she delved into new twists and future promise, as well as a solid and interesting history of the longevity of this tool and how it became an industry standard for decades.
The interactive and informal “talk show” style chat featured Loney, LTD Admin Bridget Hylak, and LTD Assistant Admin, Daniel Sebesta – facilitated by Dmitry Beschetny of the PDC –and revealed some interesting feedback. Loney was asked a series of questions prepared and provided in advance, as well as a number of bonus questions from the audience that she answered via email to form part of the discussion below.
Please join us next year as we launch ATA TEKTalks 2.0 on February 28th, when we chat with a representative from Phrase (formerly Memsource) and discuss how their recent merger is progressing. The remaining roster for ATA TT 2.0 includes DeepL, Lsp.expert and memoq.
NOTE: LTD TEKTalks are not lang tool trainings (there are enough of those, just Google away!), but rather, showcase language industry tools and technologies, and especially the people and philosophies behind them.
RWS Group Sprouts from the SDL/Trados Garden
When discussing a tool as old, as comprehensive, as mainstream, and yet, as “new” and forward-thinking as RWS Trados, you start with the basics. What would you say are Trados’ three top features? This was the first question posed to our guest, Nicole Loney, and her answer was emphatically clear.
“The first feature would have to be Trados Studio cloud capabilities.” Noting that RWS is the only provider on the market that offers a truly hybrid experience, allowing users complete flexibility over how, where and when they work (desktop, cloud or both), Loney then added, “Every Trados Studio user receives free access to individual cloud capabilities.”
As for “top” feature number two, Loney pointed out the RWS AppStore. “Similar to the Apple and Google Play AppStore,” she said, “you can use our AppStore to add functionality to suit your unique ways of working, or even diversify your services, for example, by downloading something like the subtitling app and translate subtitles through the studio interface.” Incidentally, she said, most apps are free to download.
A third main perk of choosing SDL? “That would have to be our the tool’s interoperatbiity.” Loney explained that “Trados was developed as a sophisticated, open ecosystem that can handle whatever is thrown at it” as it offers robust, open APIs and other features to reduce industry fragmentation.
A little history on the 35+ year old German-made tool (with some lesser-known details) was kind of enlightening. Originally launched as an LSP, TRADOS stands for “Translation and Documentation Software,” in case you were wondering (I was). The original LSP recognized a missing link due to increasing project volume with linguists unable to keep up, so it did what any (well, actually, no other) good LSP at the time was doing, turn to technology to fill the gap. TED was launched in 1988, a very early version of what we know today as Translator’s workbench.
Around that time, Trados became a pioneer in what today is commonplace in the industry by opting to split the company in two and rebrand. The translation services sector went to INK in the Netherlands, while other tech-forward Trados founders concentrated on honing, streamlining and perfecting a language technology product that would help optimize the work of linguists. Fast forward a decade or two, and SDL Trados Studio was further enhanced and issued multiple product releases. Over this time Trados found itself becoming the industry standard, “with many competitors trying to emulate our features and functionality,” Loney said, until it was acquired by RWS in 2020 and became the language services and technology company we know today.
Well, that was a mouthful of history, and only scratched the 35 year-old surface, but the clock was ticking. As for key tools available to freelancers and LSPs, Loney highlighted four:
- Content management
- Artificial intelligence
- Intellectual property services
“Freelance translators and LSPs, of course, fall within the Trados bucket for localization,” she said, and several Trados offerings are tailored to their requirements.
She described Trados Studio as the place “where the magic happens” for linguists. “It offers multiple core technologies built to help improve the quality, efficiency, and scalability,” which include translation memory, terminology and machine translation.
She added, “Trados Studio now comes with free essential cloud capabilities that enable users to connect to secure cloud-based projects, files and translation resources, either through Trados Studio or in a browser” (the flexibility point again – noted!).
But what about LSPs, corporations, and corporate language divisions?
“Our solutions enable LSPs to collaborate with clients and translators and manage their translation process, either in the cloud or through an on-premise solution.”
Trados is constantly evolving and changing, she said, which makes perfect sense in an ever-changing industry. Newer tools, such as Trados Team and Trados Accelerate, enable team collaboration and translation management.
Future-forward linguists delving into MT and MTPE might appreciate noting, according to Loney, that the tool is “the home of NMT with 65+ apps on the RWS AppStore, including DeepL, Microsoft, Google, etc. No other tool can match that.” Trados also offers AutoSuggest features to more easily leverage MT results (you never have to start with a blank page).
If you’re not a fan of (or can’t use) the RWS AppStore, you can connect to RWS’s proprietary MT engine, Language Weaver, (users receive 6 million characters a year free, to giver it a risk-free whirl).
Loney added, “We see MT as an emerging, vital resource – MT alongside translation memories and termbases only make you a more efficient and productive translator.”
As the ATA is multiplying its efforts on education, awareness and training in MT/MTPE, it’s interesting to note RWS’s “Post-Editing Certification” course. This unique course was recently included in a comprehensive research study conducted by the Language Technology Division (to be published in 2023) on currently-existing MTPE trends and opinions. This study provides an unbiased, “matter-of-factual” overview of current MTPE guidelines, trainings and certifications, so we asked Loney about it.
Developed by RWS’s AI consultancy team, the free, online course takes approximately one hour to complete, she said, and is available in bite-sized sessions. It covers the gamut, from the history of MT, to developing a content strategy, to testing and evaluating the quality of MT output. It even explores how to train gender neutral models, and how to address different MT behaviors. Successful completion earns linguists a “certification” endorsed by RWS – an impressive-sounding credential, for sure, but one that takes only an hour to achieve – but for the time being, it’s the only one of its kind with a good punch of entry level merit, in this author’s opinion.
Back to RWS as a potential solution, what about Mac users – previously left behind in the European tool’s development and expansion as a PC/Windows product…?
There’s some good news (finally!) on tap. According to Loney, the tool’s expanding cloud-based and localization technology offerings mean Mac users now have more ways to use RWS tools with less effort. (As a Mac-based linguist for decades, a resounding “yey!’ swelled up within me at the news… But can we finally bury Boot Camp, Parallels and VMware…? The answer is “sort of” and “not quite yet,” though times are, indeed, a changin’.)
As clouds grow, however, so do rainstorms, aka, security concerns. So what about data protection for the assets of Trados users – and their clients?
Loney was comfortable answering. “Trados cloud is truly multitenant, meaning data segregation is part of DNA. You can work in your own confidential space, and no one, not even us, can see your data.”
As selling term base assets and translation memory data has become more of a concern in recent years (decades…), she mentioned a noteworthy app that could provide extra support. “We specifically developed as app called ‘data protection suite’ which protects data both at document and TM level. This app in particular prepares content and pseudonymize PII and then restores it back afterwards.”
That one, I jotted down and underlined. Twice.
Gaming and software localization professionals may also find it useful to note RWS’s own software localization tool, Passolo. RWS, Loney explained, has started to add software localization capabilities into the tools many translators already know and love, adding support for Multilingual Excel files (the gaming industry’s de facto standard for providing localization strings) and Microsoft .NET libraries into ” Studio and the cloud, allowing users to access all of Trados’s features and functionalities.
“Excuse me, sir, but how much does all this power and punch cost…?”
When asked about platform costs, Loney’s answer was a bit vague as she initially mentioned that Trados Studio can be purchased outright, or on an annual subscription basis. The cost difference between them is a question “we get a lot,” she said, and the answer is more or less wrapped up in the name of each. To me, the difference sounded a bit like leasing or purchasing a vehicle – with built-in advantages and disadvantages to each. “They’re both good options, but the choice depends on what the buyer, LSP or corporation needs and basically, where they are in their language services journey.”
Without mentioning cost specifics (“pricing and promos change frequently”), she did admit, “This topic does kind of become ‘the elephant in the room’ at times, but we feel that in light of our comprehensive offerings, the age-old adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true – everyone’s needs are different, and constantly changing, and there are pricing models to accommodate those great variations.”
RWS may be looking to return to its roots as a language services provider and possibly expanding language service offerings via some type of marketplace down the line. Currently, freelancers may opt to become part of the RWS language team by heading to RWS.com/ about/ careers. After successfully completing a test translation, candidates will be added to their database. To hone one’s skills, RWS offers a plethora of different training courses on their website and any of their free webinars. There are lots.
While almost every linguist I know has a different opinion on the pros and cons of Trados, and the varying products they offer, one thing at least is consistent: they’ve all heard of it and have used it at some point in their career. “Our goal is to keep our tool at the forefront and to enable linguists to do their best possible work in an environment that requires their expertise.”
Here’s to 2023!