Alexika at SDL Translation Business Seminar

SDL Business Seminar

Here at Alexika, as well as being a sociable bunch, we also like to keep up to date with everything that’s going on in the translation industry. What better way to do both these things than to head to SDL’s London Business Seminar? With the promise of the results of its recent technology survey (and a free lunch), Becky and Gemma needed no further persuasion, and hot-footed it down to the event.

As Project Mangers, we spend most of our time behind a computer screen, just as many translators do, and the opportunity to network and chat to the other attendees was most welcome. It was during this time that we met several of our freelance translators, allowing us to finally put a few proverbial “faces to names”.

The day was based on a new format compared to events of previous years, with the morning being a business seminar and the afternoon a training session.

In the first session, SDL’s Neil Ferguson took us through the findings of their survey “Translation Technology Insights”. Questions had been asked of almost 3,000 professionals in the industry (comprising freelancers, corporations and translation companies), with the ultimate aim of establishing where SDL should be focusing its efforts in the future.

There were some unsurprising results (83% use translation productivity software), but also some that were not expected. The main surprise for us concerned machine translation. It has been a hot, often controversial, topic over the last few years, but a shift seems to be emerging. Rather than being seen as something to strike fear into the hearts of PMs and translators alike, the survey found that it is becoming more accepted, being viewed as an extra string to the professional’s bow, with 4 out of 10 stating that they use MT today. Whilst it will never replace the human translator and may not be suitable for all jobs, language professionals are seeing it as an extra tool, given the right circumstances.

Another ’unsurprising’ finding was that quality is the primary concern, with respondents stating that it is 2.5 times more important than speed and 6 times more important than cost. Feedback came up as an area for improvement with an overwhelming 9 out of 10 respondents saying they would like to get regular feedback on their translation work. Additionally - now try not to get too envious - a lucky 4% said that they always get feedback on quality. SDL is trying to address this problem by the use of the quantitative measuring tool within Studio – that’s what the “TQA” window is for you’ve noticed near your TM as you translate. Whilst it’s not something that we feel would be helpful to use during every job, we can see it how it could be useful as a guide to encourage the less-forthcoming clients to give feedback.

The survey also found that the ways in which we work are changing. More teams are working remotely, which is nothing new for freelance translators, but is quite a change for translation companies, with 4 out of 5 respondents stating that they work with remotely-based teams. This finding could mean that cloud solutions are increasingly important to enable easier remote working.

We were thrilled to learn about new features coming in Studio called “Lift” and “Lift Repair”. The former being a sub-segment recall feature and the latter being a system that cleverly combines fuzzy matching from your TM with terminology from your Termbase using AutoSuggest. Both would certainly would be a great help for translators, so watch out for them coming soon. The SDL SmartQuery and SDL GlobalReview also sound like handy tools to help track queries and client changes respectively.

That’s just a very brief run-down of the things we found interesting. You can download the eBook here to see the results of the survey in full detail.

At the end of the presentation, each table then had some time with an SDL member for a round table discussion. Our table was a mixture of PMs and freelancers and, in the capable hands of Fas, we discussed how to track quality and the frustrations of alignment. It was an interesting discussion and Fas was left in no doubt as to where SDL’s energies should be directed, but time was soon up and time for a pit-stop to re-fuel.

On making our way back in for the afternoon session, it was great to see the room packed full of people all eager to see the ever-informative, bubbly and immensely helpful Lydia run through her training. Being a fellow Studio trainer myself, I’m well aware of the difficulties posed by a) a mixed-ability audience, b) time constraints, and c) a full agenda. However, after an initial overview of Studio, Lydia deftly took us through many features in just 3 hours.

We looked at Projects and how they are useful for PMs and translators alike, especially when settings are stored from them into Project Templates. Her baking analogy likening these to cookie cutters was certainly something to which I could relate! Having a variety of different “cutters” is something that saves us at Alexika a lot of time when setting up projects.

She also pointed out a lot of smaller features, such as the Display Filter and Edit Source. Although minor enhancements, they are really handy to have. Such features are easily overlooked by self-taught Studio users, because you simply don’t know they’re there until someone shows you. Likewise, new apps (now to be found on the SDL AppStore) are easy to miss, because there are so many being released on a constant basis. A really useful recent one is glossary app TermExcelerator, allowing Studio to work with Excel glossaries rather than having them in MultiTerm format. I happened to be testing this app out a few weeks ago in the office for a specific client in order to help manage their terminology more effectively. Check out Paul Filkin’s blog for a perfect explanation of what the app can do.

Lydia also explained the differences between the settings shown under Options on the File menu and those under project settings. At first glance they look identical, which used to cause confusion when I was first getting to grips with Studio!

We saw how MultiTerm really enhances the user experience and is a powerful tool in the translator’s and PM’s arsenal, by looking at the endless number of fields you can create in Termbases. The Glossary Converter app cropped up – although converting glossaries is possible with MultiTerm Convert, this app automates the whole process, replacing it with a simple drag and drop operation – perfect for busy professionals. The Tilde Terminology plug-in was new to me and is something that I intend to download and install very soon.

Before we knew it, the time was up and we all bid our farewells, with notebooks, laptops and heads full to bursting with tips and tricks for Studio. All in all, a most enjoyable and worthwhile trip with the added bonus of meeting colleagues old and new. Looking forward to the next event!