The Translorial Tool Kit
By Jost Zetzsche © 2006 International Writers’ Group, compiled by Yves Avérous
The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. If you would like to subscribe to The Tool Kit, visit www.internationalwriters.com/toolkit/ and mention Translorial during the subscription process; Jost will put your name in a drawing for one free Tool Kit book per edition.
Good-bye Windows 98
Two and half years ago, in the very first newsletter I wrote, I mentioned that Microsoft would finally retire support for Windows 98 on January 16, 2004. Well, now they have finally done it: www.microsoft.com/windows/support/endofsupport.mspx. Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows XP Service Pack 1 are no longer supported by Microsoft since July 11. Of course, this does not mean that you can’t use the operating systems anymore, but it does mean you won’t get any security fixes. And, hey, there are plenty of reasons to upgrade to Windows XP, not the least of which is its Unicode support.
It also amused me to see Windows Me make it to number 4 on PC World’s list of the 25 worst software products ever: http://tinyurl.com/k5xys.
Fixing .doc Files
Here are two tricks that have recently allowed me to fix corrupt Word documents by converting them.
I had a bad installation of a spell-checker for Office—so bad, in fact, that it corrupted a Word document so that it would crash any time I modified it. Since this was a document I had edited for a client, I thought that it was not particularly polite to send it back in its corrupted state. Man, I tried everything to fix that document, including saving it in all kinds of release versions of Word and RTF. The way I was eventually able to fix it was by opening it in OpenOffice.org, saving it as an OpenOffice .odt document and then resaving it as a .doc. Be aware, however, that this may not always work because there are features (other than the corruption . . .) that may get lost in the conversion.
Here is another scenario with a different solution: I was working on an English Word file from which my translation environment tool for this project, Déjà Vu, extracted some Japanese text. This text was nowhere to be found within Word itself, but it caused problems when re-converting the document to the original .doc format. The solution in this case was to save the file within Word as an XML document (simply under File > Save as). The benefit of this was that I could now see all the data in the file in its context, even the data in the background that Word does not display. So I opened the .xml file in a text editor (Notepad or something similar), searched for the Japanese text (which now was easily done since all the background information was displayed), and was able to determine that it was somehow embedded in a section break. I went back to the Word document, took out the section break, and added a “normal” section break which solved the problem.
The poetically named Chainsaw is definitely my favorite when it comes to splitting files. If you download it (for free) at http://www.frankenwandern.de/software/chainsaw and try it, make sure that the Sound check box is activated. You’ll quickly see that the developer of this application had poetry written all over him.
Regarding devices that support the use of one keyboard, mouse, and monitor for two or more computers, Gilbert Liotard pointed me to http://www.maxivista.com/. Unlike the hardware solutions that I had proposed, MaxiVista is completely software-based and—according to their website—“freaking brilliant.” Though I’m not sure about this, Gilbert promised me that he has been using it for some time and loves it.
And why is it nice to have two monitors? If you work with a translation environment tool, it’s nothing short of exhilarating to have the actual translation on one screen and the content of the translation memory and terminology database on the other. Trust me, especially if you’re used to having several windows open on the real estate of one screen, it feels like breathing more clearly to have all that untangled and separated on several monitors!
Hans Leander pointed me to a very interesting report on terminology extraction and management in the language profession. Readers of my newsletter know that I bemoan translators’ neglect of terminology maintenance (in fact, I think the report views things a little rosier than they really are).
The report is based on a survey by Saarland University, and though it’s a research report it is practical enough to make it a worthwhile read (it’s been published as part of the series “Research Meets Practice,” so we wouldn’t expect otherwise). The authors granted permission to publish the download location, which can be found at http://snipurl.com/uf6n.
MS Glossaries to Trados
In the last issue, I mentioned the Microsoft Glossaries (ftp.microsoft.com/developr/msdn/newup/Glossary) again, and John White wondered how these could be imported into translation memories to allow for easier, more integrated searches. There are two tools out there that I am aware of which specifically address this issue, including MSGloss2TWB (see www.globalready.net/downloads.shtml), a tool that converts the files into a Trados-compatible text format, and the more versatile Heartsome CSV Converter (see www.heartsome.org/EN/csvconverter.html). Heartsome’s tool converts the MS glosaries into TMX, the translation memory exchange format that is supported by virtually all translation environment tools. And —true to Heartsome’s notion of multi-platform support—it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Extending TTX Use
Most translators have by now encountered TTX files, the Trados TagEditor format. This is true not only for translators who are actually using Trados but for users of other tools as well. SDLX, Heartsome, and Déjà Vu, for instance, directly support the translation of TTX files (provided that they have already been converted to the TTX format). Other programs, however, such as Wordfast, OmegaT, Fusion, or MetaTexis, “only” support the bilingual Trados Word format. Terminology Matters offers a free little tool that allows you to convert TTX files into a Trados Word format and back to TTX again. Though Terminology Matters created this tool mainly with its own commercial terminology QA tool Quintillian (see www.terminologymatters.com/quintilian.html), which only works in Trados Word files, this also allows you to translate the resulting Word files in any of the above-mentioned applications.
Note that because this is a free tool, Terminology Matters only releases this as a proof-of-concept tool for which you bear all risks, but the files that I tried all worked very well. You can find more information as well as the download location at www.terminologymatters.com/ttxpress.html.
About free editions and localization tools: I regularly work for a client who uses the localization tool Catalyst (if you’re not quite sure what a localization tool is, see a reprint of an earlier Tool Kit article at www.translatorscafe.com/cafe/Articles.asp?ArtID=35). I only had full editions of this tool in earlier versions that did not support the current file format, so I ended up working in the free edition. This was fine for getting to know the tool, but frustrating when you’re used to working in an environment that is powerfully supported by translation memories and terminology databases. Last week I made the plunge and purchased the Pro edition at the current price of €249 (no, I didn’t get the software for free, though Alchemy does run ads for this in the Tool Kit) and was able to recoup that easily in the first project. It would be nice if some of Catalyst’s competitors would follow suit and offer their more powerful editions with similar prices . . .
Patrick Füldner of Altiris pointed me to a program that his company produces which also tries to solve some of the problems due to program installations. Altiris Software Virtualization is a program that virtualizes installed applications and places them into a so-called virtual layer. The benefits of this are that the applications can be installed without changing any other application, uninstalled in one go without leaving any trace, exported to other computers, and reverted to their original states with a simple mouse-click. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to test it myself, but it sounds very promising, not least because it is free for personal use. You can find a lengthy review at http://snipurl.com/uf7d and the product itself at http://snipurl.com/uf7o.
And why is this important for translators? Well, first of all, it is rather helpful to have a well-functioning computer. And second, there are a number of translation environment tools, including TRADOS and SDLX, that either don’t allow several versions of their tools to run on the same machine or make it hard to switch. This program would allow you to do this more easily.