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Dec 25, 2009

The new Déjà Vu

As the developers choose to classify it, it's only a new build of the current version 7.5 of Déjà Vu X. It was expected quite some time ago but was delayed for the testing and refinement of file filters among other issues.

I downloaded the update file (about 35 MB) from Atril's web site and ran the installation right away. As I expected, there were problems with the dongle drivers immediately thereafter, so that I was confronted with a dialog informing me that DVX would only run in demo mode. This is a common problem, which was dealt with as usual by rebooting and running the program to reinstall the drivers (path: C:\Program Files\ATRIL\Deja Vu X\Dongle\setupdrv.exe). Afterward, when I launched the application, I was pleased that my other settings, including recent projects, were all intact.

According to Atril's version history, the changes in the new build versus Build 303 are:

  • Added new filter for working with XLIFF files, including SDL Trados Studio 2009 SDLXLIFF
  • Added support for FrameMaker v9.0 in FrameMaker MIF filter
  • Added support for InDesign CS4 in InDesign INX filter
  • Microsoft Windows 7 officially supported
  • Microsoft Office 2010 (current at Beta 2) officially supported
  • Improvements in the RTF filter, including reduced extraneous codes and improved performance
  • Fixed issues with curly brackets in PO filter
  • Improvements in the XML filter, including better handling of large CDATA sections and improved performance
  • Improvements and fixes in the MIF filter, including better handling of index entries, footnotes and text insets
  • Various fixes to the SDL IDT filter
  • Fixed issues with exporting satellites
  • Improvements in number handling (particularly in Propagate) and case conversions
  • Fixes issues with filter on selection
  • Fixed various issues with mouse/keyboard focus
  • Fixed various issues with TMX import/export
  • Fixed various issues with MultiTerm import
  • Fixed various issues with TM import/export
  • Fixed various issues with TD import/export
  • Fixed issues with alternate portion handling when work with a separate edit area
  • Fixed issues with search and replace in TM and project

The points highlighted in red are ones that have particularly concerned me in my work; others will have a greater interest in other points, of course. I particularly look forward to seeing if the improvements in the RTF filter will eliminate the need to run Dave Turner's CodeZapper macro on almost every RTF or DOC file I translate with Déjà Vu. Also, the fact that all attempts to import MultiTerm data in the past year have failed has been very irritating. I look forward to testing the performance of the new InDesign filter; in prior versions the filter was vastly inferior to the one in SDL Trados TagEditor, and the best I worked with in most cases was Kilgray's filter for MemoQ.

As has always been the case so far, this upgrade is free to all registered users of DVX. Free upgrades forever aren't the smartest business model if you are trying to cover the cost of ongoing development and support, so I hope that changes at some point so we might see more frequent improvements to what is still in many respects the best translation environment tool (TEnT) option available for freelance translators and small agencies. When asked what I recommend these days, it's a hard call for me. Most of the time I recommend MemoQ now, because of the advanced features, momentum and support that product has as well as its affordable server capabilities, but for quite a number of project types I do frequently, Déjà Vu X remains a critical element. Right now it's very hard to state the best technical choice without knowing a lot about the asker's project mix, so my recommendation is usually based largely on support now. In that respect the team of Atril and PowerLing still has a lot of lost ground to recover.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Kevin,

    I've just installed the latest build (316) and had no trouble with the procedure at all. Perhaps you left your hardware dongle plugged in during the installation instead of unplugging it and re-inserting it afterwards.

    I know you're also aware that Atril has been promising its users a new build for absolutely ages (it's been more than two years, hasn't it?), so it only seems right for them to provide it to all DVX users for free in my opinion. After all, it's the users who've helped Atril sort out many of DVX's software problems.

    I think it's fine for a CAT tool producer to charge for any brand new version of its tools, but not for updates containing solutions for bugs that have been reported.

    What's going on behind the scenes at Atril is still as clear as mud if you ask me. PowerLing seems to be helping them with their sales (mainly in France, but also in other countries), but judging by Daniel Benito's sporadic appearances at Yahoo!'s Déjà Vu user group and the occasional user's words of thanks for Atril's speedy assistance in solving a problem they had, Atril's still busy dealing with support issues. Sounds like that's blocking product development, although it will also help it, of course.

    What I'd appreciate personally is some transparency regarding new builds and versions and in particular strict adherence to the deadlines they announce to users. I mean, the next version of DVX was announced over a year ago and it still hasn't been launched yet - in fact, they've only just got around to making a new build available. The other vendors like MemoQ and Trados seem to be working faster on product development, and Kilgray's able to provide technical support quickly as well.

    Anyhow, let's see what will happen in 2010. I'm going to keep an eye on MemoQ as version 4 seems a very promising addition to DVX.

    Regards

    Carl

    Amper Translation Service
    Fürstenfeldbruck
    Germany

    www.ampertrans.de/

    ===================

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  3. You're quite right, Carl - that's exactly the error I made. I forget this nearly every time an update appears, so I usually have to go through this procedure. It's not really a big deal. If there were updates more often I might remember :-)

    I don't think it's been quite two years since the last build release; Build 310 was not so long ago. Or maybe I just waited a long time before upgrading from 303. Of course it would be ridiculous to charge for 316 under the circumstances. My frequent public comments about the importance of charging something annually for ongoing support and real development upgrades presumes that the "forever free" model used by Atril may have contributed in a major way to the lack of progress in bug fixes and product improvements since the introduction of DVX about 7 (?) years ago. Maybe I'm wrong, but something is definitely in the way. If it's money, then fine... charge us oldtimers then. We have had a lot of value out of the product over the years, and if it takes a few hundred dollars now and then to keep that up, no big deal. If Atril wants to be generous, they can offer 3 years of free support and upgrades to new users or whatever, but eternity is a long time to give your additional work away for nothing.

    The momentum is definitely elsewhere now. Regardless of what may be happening behind the scenes, the perception is one of stasis for the most part, which is very bad for Atril. As I noted on the dejavu-l list recently, for many (most?) types of freelancer projects, DVX is still the best technical option, but it's rather creaky, and when it comes to support, server capabilities, etc. it's a clear loser right now. I hope that will change soon.

    MemoQ 4 and improvements planned shortly thereafter are very, very promising. If the editor gets fixed, the database speed improves and I can have something similar to the external views in DVX, then my main reasons for continuing with DVX will be severely challenged. As you know, for that big project we did together last summer, MemoQ was the only tool that enabled me to keep reasonable track of the progress in that huge mess of files. DVX desperately needs new features for organizing and displaying information for better project management and more. IF Atril can meet those needs, I'll gladly pay.

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  4. Hi Kevin,

    A Happy New Year to you! Let's hope there aren't too many awkward projects to deal with in 2010 and there are some new customers out there with assignments we can do easily with our CAT tools, be they DVX or MemoQ. :-)

    Just to add a comment to your reply to my last post on DV, build 310 was never actually released as an official build, it seems - it stayed a beta build and has just been superceded by 316. (Don't ask me what happened to builds 311-315!) I asked PowerLing whether I should install it a few months ago, but they didn't reply, so I guess they were also waiting for news about 316 from Atril. (That's what I mean about more transparency, for example - if users ask about future developments and don't get a satisfactory reply, then something's fundamentally wrong with the customer service, isn't it?

    Anyhow, I'll be working with 316 from now on and am curious to see what improvements it has to offer me. I hope there are things in 316 that are of direct benefit - perhaps the support for RTF files will be one of them as XLIFF and XML definitely aren't.

    Best wishes

    Carl

    Amper Translation Service
    Fürstenfeldbruck

    www.ampertrans.de/

    ============

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  5. > Let's hope there aren't too many awkward projects to deal
    > with in 2010 and there are some new customers out there
    > with assignments we can do easily with our CAT tools, be
    > they DVX or MemoQ. :-)

    They are usually only awkward until the workflow gets figured out. In fact, Paul Filkin (SDL) made an interesting point - and a correct one - that most of the really knotty support issues he sees are related to workflow, not software, features, bugs, etc. per se and that consequently forums are often a better mechanism for reaching a solution than a provider's support team. Some might interpret that as an attempt to dodge responsibility for product support, but it isn't. The crew at Atril, Kilgray (and others whom I don't work with) have a lot of experience and a lot of insight to share, but the hundreds or thousands of users that follow some of these lists will inevitably have more, or particular individuals will be focused on an aspect that is really important to them (and almost nobody else), and suddenly they'll pop up out of nowhere with a great tip. Every time I think I have a complete understanding of some process I stumble across a new or old contribution in the dejavu-l list and am humbled.

    But too much learning overheats the brain, so let's hope most of our stuff is normal :-)

    > build 310 was never actually released as an official build

    Ah, you're right! I had forgotten that. I had an issue that required me to do the upgrade a while ago. Yes, the official upgrade was a damned long time coming, unless you think on geological time scales. I would usually expect far more progress in that amount of time.

    > if users ask about future developments and don't get
    > a satisfactory reply, then something's fundamentally wrong
    > with the customer service, isn't it?

    No kidding. I love Atril. Their product has been the technical backbone of my translation business since 2000. The company's founder, rest his soul, saved me on important project a number of times. The current people there have also helped a lot. But the support situation and the silences are beyond bad. Kinda reminds me of a great (human) editor that I know. Awesome guy, super unpublished writer. He walks on water while he edits German texts. Do I recommend him to my clients if they need source text editing? Not any more. He doesn't return their calls or e-mails or engage proactively in any way. Ditto Atril now :-( If it were not for the outstanding dejavu-l group, many users would be utterly lost.

    > support for RTF files will be one of them

    Plan on continuing to use Dave Turner's CodeZapper macros for a long time yet. This is an issue for all tools, not just DVX. The only environment where you won't see trash to some degree is a word processing editor interface (TWB macros for the old Trados, Wordfast Classic, Anaphraseus, etc.). Cleanup of converted PDF files seems to be the #1 issue with many these days. Years ago when I published my little guideline on post-OCR workflow with the quality checklist, this wasn't such a big deal (many of my agency customers had never heard of OCR software and purchased it only after I started charging them to use mine). Sometime (soon??) I need to rewrite that information and update it to include tips on the CodeZapper macros and other tools that were not available for cleanup then.

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  6. (continued... apparently comments have a 4096 character limit)

    > as XLIFF and XML definitely aren't.

    Not true. DVX has wonderful, flexible support for XML in fact. I create custom filters for CMS output and other XML sources all the time. The Star Transit filter that has been around since the old DV3 days was in fact based on the XML filter.

    I think a few users have grown impatient waiting for Atril to release the XLIFF filter that will be compatible with Trados Studio 2009 projects and have created their own unofficial ones using the DVX XML filters. XLIFF been in the works at Atril for a long time, but I don't know what the issues are, as I'm not talking to any of the beta testers about it. Even if they had something to say on the subject, I'd take it with a grain of salt. Comment about beta status are only relevant to me if I expect a release in my lifetime.

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