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The Ukrainian Cornucopia of Tools


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Jost Zetzsche photoIf you've ever heard me talk about translation technology, you'll have heard me mention Ukraine. It inevitably comes up. Why? Because Ukraine is like the promised land for translation technology developers—or, perhaps more correctly, because a handful of software developers have decided to make Ukraine into a veritable hotbed for translation tools.

The sheer number of companies that specifically produce software for translators—or translators who have created clever solutions for themselves and had a heart for sharing—is mind-boggling. And though none of these organizations is really big, each makes formidable tools geared mostly toward the freelance translator.

In honor of these companies and—to my knowledge—the first translation conference in Ukraine in May 2013, I have gone back through my last few years of newsletter archives to highlight and update reports on some these featured folks and their tools.


AIT

Be thankful for those many talented folks working creatively for the good of our industry!
There are a good number of companies that work very hard at developing quality software products for translators, but I think it's not over-exaggerated to say that the Ukrainian company Advanced International Translations or AIT is one of the true leaders in this field. Originally a translation, localization, and software development company, AIT switched its focus in 2001 to developing software for the translation industry.

AIT is most well-known for Translation Office 3000 (TO3000), a software program that allows freelance translators to do many of the menial tasks that we need to do as small businesses. This includes bidding for projects, tracking projects, invoicing, and managing payments. The program uses a database that contains all your clients' information, your pricing, your payment methods, etc., and it also allows you to run reports on any client, project, or time period.

Although I'm not very good with finances and accounting, it took me only half an hour to understand the tool and enter my preferred settings, and another half an hour to modify the invoice templates. It now takes me about five minutes to enter the necessary information for each client (a one-time setup for every client), but each new job is then entered, processed, and invoiced in a matter of seconds.

That's not the only tool that AIT offers, though.

Building on the success of TO3000 for the freelance community, AIT developed Projetex, a server-based management tool for translation companies. Projetex is a very solid tool with multi-user server-based access and file and project management capabilities that include all those of the freelance product along with roles-based access, vendor management, and various other features. While it does not have an online or even web-based component—which is rather crucial to international organizations with project managers all over the world, or with the need to have freelance translators (or project managers) and clients log in and download or upload files, view reports, or write invoices—Projetex is a good solution for small agencies that do most or all of their project management in-house and that prefer to communicate with translators and clients via the traditional channels, such as email and FTP. (When I talked to AIT about the missing online interface, they responded that even though it's in the "production pipeline," their impression is that online translation management is mainly beneficial for selling purposes. Among their customers, "project managers work mostly with files and e-mails and they need robust file management in the first place.")

For folks who choose to switch business models from a freelance to an agency business, the upgrade path from Translation Office 3000 toProjetex is seamlessly done with the help of a software wizard.

Other AIT tools include these:

AnyCount , which is also automatically integrated into TO3000 and Projetex, is a very simple-to-use tool that allows for counts of words, character, pages, or lines in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML, text, PDF, FrameMaker, Open-/LibreOffice, help,Publisher, and zip files and combines those counts into one report. In its slightly more expensive Enterprise edition, it even uniquely supports graphic formats with the help of an internal optical character recognition engine. (The results of the graphic formats counts sometimes are mixed, but certainly helpful when you happen to have to count "well-behaved" graphics.)

Three other counting products from the same company include ClipCount—for counting words and characters on your clipboard (the temporary storage container for copied text)—and the free CATCount that lets you assign fuzzy match rates for translated words as percentages of the full price and calculate your price accordingly. And lastly, because translators have plenty of jobs that they track by time and not by word counts, AIT also developedExactSpent, which makes the automatic time-tracking for a job as easy as pressing some customizable keyboard shortcuts.

Still not enough? AIT didn't think so either, so it developed a number of terminology products. WinLexic is one of the tools that were developed to download, read, and search the old-style "Microsoft glossaries" (whose use now requires paying membership in the Microsoft Developer Network MSDN or the Microsoft TechNet). AcroLexic is a tool that comes with a database of English acronyms (and is probably a little outdated with Internet access to many such sites). And AnyLexic is a terminology management and retrieval tool that can be used as a standalone tool but also comes in a server edition.

And last but not least, there is also a translation memory tool. Those of you who know my writing might be surprised that I'm using "translation memory tool," the term I love to hate, but AnyMem truly is a TM tool with none of the bells and whistles that come with translation environment or CAT tools like Trados, memoQ, or Wordfast. AnyMem is a low-powered and low-priced tool that allows you to work within Word and connect to a TM as you translate.

Oh, and one last thing about AIT: their support is fantastic (and they're nice people).


Practiline

Word counts are an important and potentially contentious topic between you and your clients. Even if you have reached an understanding about whether the count should be based on source or target words (and I won't even open the reduced-rates-for-repetitions can of worms), there will be differences in the number of words if you and your client are using different tools for counting. Chances are that the word counts of both your client and you are "correct," but because every tool uses different assumptions and parameters for word counts, each tool will reach a different total.

There are different strategies for avoiding conflicts in this area. The easiest certainly is to find an agreement with your client as to which tool should be used to perform the word count. There are, however, less sophisticated clients who would find the question itself confusing. When it comes to these clients, you can easily assume that they will use Microsoft Word for counting words in applicable file formats. In certain cases this may still need to be discussed with the client (such as for documents with a lot of translatable text boxes that earlier versions of Word do not count, or for formats where Word counts only a small part of the translatables, such as HTML), but in general it may be a good business strategy to use theWord counting method for your invoices as well.

Using the Word counting method does not mean that you need to actually use Microsoft Word to do your word counts, however. A tool such as PractiCount & Invoice allows you to (optionally) use the exact same counting parameters thatWord would use, with the additional benefits that you can count as many files at a time as you like, in a large number of formats (essentially all the same formats as AnyCount, minus graphic and Publisher files, but plus WordPerfect and Visio files and any content on the clipboard); add up the total number of words (or pages, characters, etc.); or calculate an invoice total, write an invoice, and send the invoice to the client. And of course, the shortcomings that Word has or used to have in its word counts are all fixed.

Also useful are the abilities to count the frequency of words or editing time in Word and PowerPoint documents (the numbers are based on the information that you can access under Properties in Word or PowerPoint), ignore certain text, count the revisions throughTrack Changes in Word, and the PDF-to-text conversion (some of these features are only available in the more extensive Business edition). This last feature is especially helpful because it lets you verify that you have indeed counted all text within a PDF file and that it was not contained in graphics or similar objects.


Translator Tools

Stanislav Okhvat wrote to me the other day asking whether I could mention his site and the suite of products he offers. Could I mention it? Sure, I can! It's great.

Translator Tools is a site that offers plug-ins for MS Word, Excel, Visio, and AutoCAD. These plug-ins perform a variety of functions to prepare files for a TEnT-based translation process or to post-process them after the translation. Take for instance the Word plug-in. It allows you to verify that everything has been translated (it only works with Latin or Cyrillic languages), convert decimal points, perform batch replacements, fix formatting in preparation for processing in translation environment tools, clean up bilingual Trados 2007 (and previous versions) andWordfast Classic docs, as well as a bunch of other things.

The Visio and particularly the AutoCAD plug-in are also great. While Visio is now supported through its XML exchange format by at least some translation environment tools, AutoCAD still is not (with the exception of a paid add-on for Star Transit). Stanislav'sVisio and AutoCAD tools allow you to export the text from these file formats into an Excel spreadsheet where you can easily translate with a translation environment tool of your choice, and then, once you're done, reimport right back into the original files. Very helpful!

Another clever tool is the Glossary Manager, which is part of the Excel plug-in. It may not quite reach the power of APSiC Xbench - after all, it supports only glossaries in Excel—but it's great if most of your glossaries are in Excel and you would like to find a way to quickly search from within any Windows application by simply highlighting a term and pressing a certain keyboard combination. You can even search any number of Excel glossaries all at once, the setup takes all of two minutes (he has decent instructions on his website), and it is extremely customizable.

The installer for his tools includes all the tools he offers, but you can choose to install only the applications that you really want in step 2 or 3 of the installation process.

The only problem is that all of this doesn't come cheap.

Just kidding: it's completely free!

Enjoy!


Translator's Factory

I love our profession (most of the time) and the generous and passionate folks who are part of it. The other day I received an email from Ludvig Glavati from the land of creativity, aka Ukraine, about a number of applications he has developed and would like to share. Ludvig had read my article on voice recognition and was convinced that he had met a comrade in arms in his quest to "turn translation into interpreting." I'm not sure that I would go so far—I think there are some real differences in the skill set of the professionals who work in each of these occupations—but I think Ludvig's tools are thought-provoking to say the least.

Aside from tools for dictating, he has also developed a different set of tools (all in a Word toolbar that you can download for free) with which he attempts to create an environment that allows the translator to focus only on the text without formatting, matches, or other distractions. Once the translation is done, the resulting TM can be applied to the rest of the complete text, and formatting can be applied.

To that purpose he has a whole host of tools that strip any formatting, turn a (bilingual) document into a table, expand and contract cells in a table, turn a table into segments, and so on. I don't find his overall strategy so impressive—he explains it in this PowerPoint presentation—because to me it seems he actually might create more work in the process, but I can see a lot of use for the individual tools.

To come back to the dictation part, he has also developed a voice recorder and a speed changer for playing the recording—there is no good voice recognition in Russian, he says, so he needs to dictate for a transcriber. One of the features of his Word toolbar is called the Marquee tool, which presents you with a running stream of text with adjustable speed within Word to ease the dictation. It's a very clever idea that I had never thought of.


Crowdin.net

On to the next tool: I would like to introduce a man whose name has the most occurrences of "y" of anyone I have ever met: Sergey Dmytryshyn. At least the Latin version of this name is quite impressive! Sergey is one of the folks behind a project that in itself is rather impressive as well:Crowdin.net.

I had a long chat with Sergey about his site and his tool, but let me tell you first about the tool itself.

Crowdin.net is a platform for the translation of a huge number of software and document file formats in a crowd-sourced environment. The concept is this: After you register, you can create a project in which you can upload any number of the supported file types and create groups of translators (there is a page where you can invite them). You can also mark your project as open for everyone, in which case others can find your project and send you a message asking you for permission to translate. Once the accepted translator logs in, he or she can see the list of files in his or her language combination, open them (only the translatable text will be displayed), and start to translate. During the translation, the translator might be shown three different kinds of matches: machine translation matches from the Google or Microsoft MT engines (depending on the setup) and translation memory matches.

When you go back to a segment that you already translated, the target field will be empty again but you can see your own translation in the Suggestions field where others now can vote for or against it. A file can be exported at any stage and the translations used will be the ones with the highest votes. As the project owner you will continue to be informed about the project in the form of an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Interesting? I sure think so.

Originally, the main target audience of Crowdin.net consisted of developers of shareware or open-source applications for whom it is unreasonable to go through the traditional localization process (from the list of supported file formats you can see that there is particularly strong support among developers of mobile applications). This group still has free access to Crowdin.net, but the tool is also marketed to service providers who have to pay a fee for its use.

By default, everything within your various translation projects goes into one TM, which is shared among all of your projects.

I would encourage you to go to Sergey's site and poke around. It has a very attractive user interface, and you'll even find some public projects in which you can participate as a translator or a voter for a certain translation—this will give you a good overview of how the system works.

Interestingly, you might have already worked in the Crowdin.net system without knowing it—some translation companies use it as their workbench under their own branding (see here, for instance.)


ChangeTracker

(This does not really belong in this list since the providers of this tool are a translation company rather than a tool provider, but it's still a cool tool.)

Vladimir Kukharenko, formerly of AIT, has joined another Ukrainian provider, Technolex Translation, which just released a very helpful little tool called ChangeTracker. It's a free little utility that allows you to compare bilingual documents in most of the popular formats, including .xlz, .xliff, bilingual .doc/.rtf files, .tmx, Trados .ttx or .sdlxliff, .mqxlz, and Wordfast .txml files.

It provides a seamless way of comparing files before and after editing or of comparing different versions of the same file. It's super-easy to use—the whole process essentially consists of dragging files that you want to compare into the tool's interface, and the results of the comparison can be read right in the tool's interface or exported—making it a must-have for your tool box.

So, next time you think of Ukraine:

Be thankful for those many talented folks working creatively for the good of our industry!





Published - July 2013












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