Sep 16

Trados Studio 2011 – first impressions

Trados Studio 2011 should be available by the end of next week. SDL promotes it through many ads, webinars, handing out beta version and even full day of virtual learning. And it’s no surprise, since it is full two years since last full release of “Trados” product line. I took part in some of the presentations and tried the beta for several days. Was it worth to wait for so long? Is it worth to upgrade?

The release of Trados Studio 2009 was in many ways revolutionary – it represented a completely new (for many) approach to translation – integrated editor instead of all too familiar Word add-on. The problem was, SDL immediately alienated large part of it’s user base by trying to force users to abandon the old version for the new one, i.e. by arbitrary setting the time limit for old licenses and not providing the support for one of the most widely used file formats – bilingual doc/rtf files. What’s more, the first release of Studio 2009 was more like untested beta, than commercial product – one couldn’t work for 30 minutes without a crash. Of course the bugs were eventually ironed out with three service packs and licensing model was promptly changed, but out of about twenty LSPs i work for more or less regularly, only one upgraded from Trados 2007 to Trados Studio 2009. Hardly a commercial success.

So, we leap two years forward, to present day. What about Trados Studio 2011? Well, after several days of working with it I must admit, that I’m really impressed. Why? Well, there are several “big” new features, some targeted more at enterprises/LSPs, like PerfectMatch 2.0 or Pseudo-translation and others, beneficial both to companies and to end-users, like track changes feature, Word spellchecker, improved QA checker and ability to open bilingual doc files or the return of the Translate to fuzzy feature. There are new and improved file type filters (including brand new INX filter) and extended filtering feature. You can now start the (good old) WinAlign directly from Studio and some built-in integration with old Trados 2007 – throughout I haven’t tested it, SDL promises the ability to “call it when needed”. Maybe like the WinAlign.

There is also an OpenExchange (one of the best SDL initiatives) integration – some of the more popular add-ons are installed by default, including improved SDLXLIFF converter for MS Word files, which enables seamless review of translated files in Word environment.

What is really important is the fact, that all this finally just works. Somewhere on the SDL site there’s info that in addition to the “big” new features there are over 140 minor enhancements. And one can feel them. The translation process is much smoother and hassle free. Of course you still have to wait forever to start the damn thing and if you click on the Reports view by accident, you can go for a coffee, but what would you expect from something relying on Java. I have used Studio 2011 beta for translation of a ~5k word project I would otherwise translated in Studio 2009 and I haven’t encountered even a single glitch (except for some problems with MultiTerm, but that was obviously still version 2009).

I’m an ardent memoQ user and I still believe that already released memoQ 5.0 has an upper hand in the comparison, but if Trados Studio worked like this two years ago, I probably would never have bothered with other software. Anyway, I’m going to upgrade my Studio to 2011, since I believe that now many of my clients will finally upgrade from Trados 2007 (or migrate to memoQ – but I’m already covered here).

I could also add some notes on where the new Studio features come from, but that’s not really important. What matters is that there’s finally a sound competition on the CAT/TEnT tools market and for once translators benefit from it by receiving higher quality tools, which let us work in a more more comfortable and efficient way. What we need in addition to that is more openness and interchangeability of files between tools (Studio 2011 beta license does not allow to open .sdlxliff files in any other tool).

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