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Jan 23, 2010

Saved by the server!


For the past several weeks I have been testing the version 3.6 memoQ Server as a project manager. My previous experience with the platform as a translator in several projects with agencies and colleagues was very positive, and I wanted more "inside knowledge" of how these projects actually get set up and how they work. As usual, the team at Kilgray helpfully supplied the test licenses for a proper evaluation (as they would do for anyone else interested in the technology). Using the server environment as a project manager was far easier than I expected, and the few questions I had were quickly resolved by the support team. I quickly figured out the advantages and disadvantages of the two major options of local projects using server resources (TM, termbase) and projects with documents stored on the server. We have worked in both modes according to the specific needs of the project. As we worked in parallel in local mode on an urgent project where a lot of segmentation adjustment was needed (big document, bad format, not everything cleaned up in advance due to hurry), my partner was astonished by the power of the TM-driven segmentation as she pretranslated the sections I had done in order to proofread them. Segments were combined and split to give matches that no other tool would have found. (This is a feature of all versions of memoQ.)

Yesterday disaster struck. Her external hard drive with all her current projects failed catastrophically, and she had no backup. In a sense I was glad it happened, because it reinforced a point I have been making about infrastructure and necessary improvements for some time. But that's cold comfort when there are projects to be delivered on a short deadline. The real comfort came with the fact that all she had to do was check out the project from the remote server again, and all her work was restored to a different hard drive in minutes. Saved by the server.

Because we are now so close to the memoQ 4.0 release I will not be writing my full review of the memoQ server environment until the new version is out and I become thoroughly familiar with it. I have been beta testing for a little while, but I have not had time to look at new server functions. However, my experiences so far reveal that this environment is astonishingly simple to use and very powerful. Little things can make a big difference. Right now one esteemed colleague has been screwed by ProZ, where he had set up private forums to communicate with his project teams about highly confidential work. The integrated project-specific (or also general use) communication tab in memoQ server projects, though not very sophisticated, would allow him to laugh off such inconveniences as project members chat and keep a permanent record of important issues in their work.

Although we are a small office with just two translators, I think I can clearly see this technology as a permanent part of our infrastructure in some form in the future! And I see great potential benefits for all the small and medium-sized agencies it is my privilege to work with. (The server has great potential for peer collaboration too, but I'm waiting for a colleague to write about that....)

1 comment:

  1. One issue to translate online, relying on a webserver, is the risk of server downs. One of my client issued 7 times notices telling us collaborators about their server down times during the last 7 months. That is, averagely once in a month.

    Another issue is confidentiality. I just don't trust some companies and avoid doing anything online for clients who make use of facilities of those companies. Discussing project details in a forum at ProZ? Issuing invoices via their billing system? No, never.

    We must be sure with whom we deal with. Otherwise we might get blackmailed as buying a CAT license and get stuck with it there.

    I enjoy reading your report on MemoQ and learn a lot from your experience for later decision. Thanks, Kevin.

    - Sylvia

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