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Dec 11, 2014

memoQ 2014 Release 2: beware of Hungarians bearing updates!

Just kidding, actually. Facebook groups are, of course a buzz with tales of bugs and crashes the day after Kilgray's milestone release, and in my own office I heard a flurry of curses behind me as my Portuguese translator discovered the "can't quit" bug that someone had written about. This was just a short time before I delivered the last files for one of the busiest weeks of translation I've been hit with in months, weeks where I decided to live dangerously and do all the work with the bleeding-edge beta for yesterday's release. For me it was actually a rather bloodless experience.

Sure, I saw bugs. Screen refresh weirdness in the first few beta builds and my favorite (non-lethal) quirk: multiple instances of memoQ web search. I guess the developers figured we can't get too much of a good thing!
Triple play, anyone?
I didn't write as much about this release as I intended to originally, partly because I was too busy, but also because I took a very different approach this time, using the beta opportunity to do a little informal psychological research to support some upcoming tutorials I'm working on to help people make a smooth transition to the new interface and cope better with the costly challenges of flipping between versions if required to by some projects (for example with conservatives who still use old memoQ servers.

Those who are not absolute newbies on the technology scene are well aware that the months after any release from any provider of translation technology are always a risky time for those eager to get started with a new version. The prudent advice to anyone is don't hurry. There's no use slamming Kilgray or SDL or anyone other firm for the inevitable bugs after any release, at least not until two or three months have passed and the version has put through the real-life wringer in a way no testing program can do. After that, fair game as far as I'm concerned. Those first months are usually a critical time in which many improvements not even anticipated by the designers occur. So regardless of the official line, people, for the next three months any of you using memoQ 2014 R2 are beta testers. And that's a good thing, a chance to participate in a good development process. SDL Trados Studio users, DVXn fans and everyone else are on more or less the same curve each time a big upgrade hits.

In my beta test over the past month I made few attempts to explore new features. Instead, I focused on my usual workflows to see how they felt in the new environment. As I indicated in my first blog post on this release I was not entirely comfortable after a week of work just with thew new version. And I'm still not. I am less productive than I want to be, because changing the translation environment interface is always a costly process associated with reduced productivity. This is why I am such a strong advocate of interoperability and tell people to go deep with their environment of choice and learn how to work with information prepared in other environments with just your favorite tool for maximum efficiency and better earnings if you work at full capacity.

What I have learned so far is that this learning curve will be longer and steeper for me than I anticipated. However, the Kilgray ribbon designs for the new memoQ are well-designed for the most time, and I can reason my way through them and find anything. It just takes time right now. So make the transition when you aren't going to be under the gun for a while. Kick the tires soon (you can install versions in parallel at no risk) but take it slow and easy. The trip may be long, but it is clearly worth it in the end for a design that will benefit most in the long run.

And focus on keyboard shortcuts. The more you depend on those, the easier your work will be in the months ahead. Stay tuned.

18 comments:

  1. We implemented 2013 R2 six months ago, and are struggling to keep pace with memoQ's development.
    When we were looking for a CAT tool in early 2014, there were rumors of memoQ 2014 being released mid year. We deliberately opted for the more stable version, to avoid the issue of initial bugginess and users with little to no previous experience with CAT tools. This choice now means, given Kilgray's policy of releasing 2 major versions a year and (only simultaneously supporting two previous versions) we are and probably always will be two steps behind. Do you see Kilgray slowing the pace of development somewhere along the line or are we all damned to frantically upgrade/train every six months if we don't want to be left behind?

    Don't get me wrong, from what I've seen and read of memoQ 2014 R2, it seems to offer some real improvements/new benefits and I'm sure future versions will too. I also think that memoQ has been a real game changer for the industry and keeps the competition on its toes (actually: leaves them in the dust). I just think the pace of development is lethal for user acceptance.

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    1. Sounds like you work at a translation company or company that manages its own translations. I have been concerned for a long time that the pace of change would be harmful in markets like that, but it causes stress and losses for individuals as well. This morning I had a long call with a legal translator, troubleshooting some update issues, and she pointed out how even CAT developers who have been translators don't "get it" and fail to understand the importance of stable business processes in most fields. Perhaps this is because nearly all of them that I know have translated mostly for IT topics, localizing software, translating manuals, etc. They are rather apart from the reality of an accounting firm or a group of lawyers with a range of translation challenges. The geeksters of IT have all this current babble about "disruption" as a virtue, and the constant upheaval in IT in the 43 years I have been involved with it gives many embedded in that environment the impression that this is normal, even good. But most of the other realities beg to differ. There is life beyond hardware and software, and the tools should serve the users and respect their need to focus on other things, not constantly re-learn what they already know. That is why I stopped programming. After learning to do basically the same damned things in over 20 languages and god-knows-how-many operating environments I realized I'm better off reading a book, writing a poem on the back of an envelope and walking my dogs.

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    2. Hi Kevin,
      Actually I'm a legal translator and work in-house. I agree that some people seem to get carried away with the possibilities of the software (to quote Kilgray's blog "We have also rewritten the translation memory editor to make it faster and shinier"). I want to adapt it to my/our workflow and not the other way around. I want a stable system that can support a relatively large in-house team. To a certain extent our requirements differ significantly from those of freelancers and LSPs. And while I'm really appreciate of Kilgray's support, I sometimes feel like an alien, that IT people just don't get it (even after explaining at length how we operate) and that we should be changing the way we work...
      IT has transformed our industry beyond recognition over the past decade or so, and I can collaborate with colleagues in ways that really boost productivity and quality. But the amount of time frittered away in dealing with technical glitches and settings sometimes gives me pause.
      And you're right, of course, to emphasize the virtues of "unplugging" and pursuing meaningful things outside of our fast-paced, technology driven professional lives. There is so much to be said for walking the dog(s) and reading a good book! Talk about a good way to stay sane...

      Regards,
      Colin

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    3. Oh? That's interesting to hear. A lot of my troubleshooting involves legal translation workflows, not so much for my own legal work but more for colleagues involved in some truly insane cases with massive files for the filings, version insanity and stuff that IT translators just can't imagine. One day I developed a special workflow to deal with footnote QA for a friend who was stressed with something like 100 footnotes in a file; a few weeks later she had a huge (maybe 60,000+ word) document with around 1000 footnotes to QA. And of course lots of quotations in other languages where that language lockout feature Kilgray added a few versions ago comes in handy. It's been a godsend for accurate, fast quoting for mixed language files like you'll see in some pleading in a patent dispute. Adding features is not a problem, but messing with existing functionality certainly is. When carefully configured resources are no longer usable or are heavily disadvantaged in the new segmentation regime, for example, and nobody talks about how to migrate the data (I will another day, stay tuned), then you have a host of troubles. We have work to do, and dancing on the bleeding edge all the time is a dangerous way to approach that work for everyone.

      Ten minutes ago I had to re-deliver a job to a Trados-using client who does not know how to unlock large numbers of segments in Studio 2014. I knew it would be just two keyboard commands, but I was tired and could not remember them. So two minutes of searching and 4 vital clicks later I could send what the client needed. Those little 2-minute pauses for simple operations add up to a lot of lost time at the end of the day. Even at the end of weeks of intensive work with the new ribbon interface.

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    4. "massive files for the filings, version insanity and stuff that IT translators just can't imagine"…that sounds pretty familiar ;)

      I'm just starting out with QA and auto-translatables - a task I find immensely daunting (Regex does my head in). I'd love to find a way to capture really complex legal references like "§ 1 Abs. 3 Satz 3 u. 4, Abs. 4 Nr. 1 u. 2 InvStG" or "EuGH, Rs 85/76, Hoffmann – LaRoche/Kommission, Slg 1979, 461, Rn 40"…On the other hand the joy of tinkering with simple rules until they finally work ;)

      Do you have any tips for developing rules to capture complex legal references?

      There is such a wealth of material out there for legal translation (EU material, in particular), just working out how to incorporate it all into memoQ is such a massive task: compiling specific reference LiveDocs, for example, or using the Acquis Communautaire (although I think the whole Acquis would really slow down the system…)

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    5. Capture the legal references? I wrote a number of autotranslatable rulesets to do just that and handle different currency expressions according to customer-specific requirements. I need to go back and review some of the work, perhaps update it, but for the cases I had defined it worked well. The thing is that you can't do this kind of development using Kilgray's buggy editors; you need to develop a workflow with external files and something like Notepad++. And build a reference library of test cases. I suspended my work on this earlier in the year because I was told by someone at Kilgray that the company intended to release more than just the number-handling rules that ship with the product, and I recall that the 2014R2 release was mentioned as the target. It didn't happen, so I'll probably go back to fine-tuning the legal and financial expression matching in the months ahead.

      I generally don't recommend that people waste their time learning regex and building their own complex matching rules. This is an utter waste of time for most people. Even many people with a programming background struggle with regex (I'm one), and it doesn't help when a product using it does not publish detailed specifications of the dialect used - and changes the implementation from time to time so stable, well-tested expressions can break. That's the situation we have with memoQ. It makes much more sense to focus on defining the requirements and creating good sets of test data which include errors or variations to be caught and corrected (things like changes in spacing, for example). Then hire a competent expert like our Polish colleague Marek Pawelec for the actual implementation and creation of commented rulesets, which are easier to maintain (importing to memoQ strips comments from the rules, alas!)

      A good set of autotranslatables is an excellent "competitive weapon", saving many hours on some jobs and improving one's QA, which is why some people invest significantly in their development.

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    6. Thanks for the tips, reading your blog and publications I had feared as much…Better put our efforts to more useful things than waste them on a lost cause.

      On the subject of non-standard workflow: Another area where our in-house processes differ greatly from the norm seems to be language direction. Of course, an individual translator will translate into his/her native tongue, but as a team we translate in both directions in the same project, mainly GER-ENG and ENG-GER. In the former direction we need to differentiate between US and UK English, whereas in the latter the majority of texts are external and a mix of UK and US, meaning we have resorted to using generic English as a source language…a real headache with projects and TBs. Is this way of working so unusal?
      On the one hand source language restrictions in setting up projects in memoQ means we have to create duplicate projects for translations in the same matter, but share project TBs across projects - a minefield. This means heavily customizing memoQ and creating our own template projects. The bidirectionality of TBs is great, but we have to watch out that entries in one direction don't create garbage in the other and QA for consistency is a nightmare.

      So one thing I'm looking forward to is project templates in memoQ 2014…it'll mean a lot of work for us, but I think it'll be worth it. On the whole I really think memoQ has revolutionized how we collaborate, we just need to suss out how to put it to work for us.

      BTW: Thanks for your invaluable work on making tools like memoQ accessible to other translators. We'd be lost without you!

      Colin

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    7. Well, Colin, I have a few thoughts on those bidirectional workflows, but the comments thread probably isn't the best place to express them. I can see a picture in my head of a somewhat different database arrangement and some "vetting" steps to prevent the garbage. But I'll have to test some of the server permissions functions I've never used to find the best way to do this.

      The templates introduced in 2014 are great, and in 2014 R2 they really assume a highly necessary role to avoid confusion. Unfortunately, the training groundwork has really not been laid for this up to this point. In the current set of tutorials I'm working on (too slowly at the moment) I am incorporating templates in one or more of the learning "jobs" but I haven't made up my mind just how far I can go with simplifying this yet. In any case I am glad that this means I can finally dump or severely chop down my old "chaos" chapter on naming conventions. Templates are a great step forward to fight chaos. They are worth everyone's time but for the average users, the explanatory resources will have to be made much better.

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  2. Hi there

    I had a very long learning curve with Office ribbon, but I'm currently happy with it, so the ribbon is not a problem, virtually
    ;-)

    the reason why I tested memoQ 2014 and uninstalled it just now, is that GUI flaws/bug remained, and new useless (to me) routines were added

    let we start with some samples of GUI flaws that I really hate

    you see a mistake in a translation unit: right click on it, click on View/Edit, a vindow opens, resize it, do changes, close it
    the next time you open the same window you MUST resize it again: very stupid and very boring

    another example
    run the QA, on the top you have a vindow with the translation unit you should work on: you cannot resize it since there is no automatic resizing!
    it means that you MUST scroll always the text to see the whole sentence: very stupid, very boring, and a killer for your eyes

    another example: every time you run a new task for an old customer, the "New memoq project" window opens
    since the "Project" and "Client" fields don't have a drop-down list, you MUST manually write these data, again and again: very stupid and very boring
    BTW, if memoQ developers were able to build a drop-down list of customers and projects, a new interesting feature would be available: the option to have the relevant TM and Glossary automatically included just after you select from the drop-down list the name of the customer and the name of the project ...

    another example: I work from English to Italian ONLY, so why on earth I must check these 2 languages, again and again?
    sure, I know that I can kill all languages but these 2, but anyway why I cannot have those 2 languages automatically selected remains a mystery to me

    another flaw
    I tell memoQ that the "New memoq project" is in a certain folder that I must show him with Windows Explorer, so why on earth I have to use Windows Explorer again to find the same folder when I have to tell to HAL 9000 where are files to be translated?

    Now, let we examine some new useless (to me) routines added to 2014 release

    the Save button was killed: you must click cluelessly on one icon, that has no evocative look/name, a blue window opens, after some panic you realize it's not the Blue Death screen, then you click on Save all

    same situation when you have to "Create local project", and you DON'T want a new "particular task" and "master" TM & Termbase, but you want using your usual TM & Termbase: may be I'm soft in the head, but I wasn't able to find a way to avoid it

    another pest: you want to add a new term
    with the old 2013 I was able to select the text in the source and in the target, regardless the first letter was e.g. upper-case or lower-case, a window (resizable: small, average, large) opened, I was able to change the first letter, then simly clicking on Enter the edited term was added

    now I cannot, as when the window opens, the whole term is ALREADY memorized so if I want edit it, I must do changes first, then click on the "I" icon, then click on Enter: 3 clicks rather than one: very stupid and very boring

    and there are many more unfixed flaws/bugs, and many new useless (to me) routines added, so I think I'll remain stuck on the old release as far as I can

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    1. Claudio, are you talking about memoQ 2014 (old interface) or memoQ 2014 R2 (new one, with ribbons)? The Save button never did anything anyway. Work has always been autosaved as soon as a segment is exited. Unlike Trados and many other CAT tools, in DVX and memoQ it's almost impossible to lose your work unless you go around deleting projects, TMs, etc.

      I would make it a point to communicate any and all interface concerns to Support. There is a lot of rethinking going on and much of it is very good as far as I can see. I have my own list related to window sizing, location, etc. Others surely do. So let's keep talking clearly to the designers at Kilgray about this. I usually find that when they do decide to deal with an issue I gripe about their solution is more clever and useful than what I imagined myself. The biggest problem I face in persuading the solution architects is that they often think I am the only one who cares about an issue, while I might be able to name a dozen people who have griped about it to me already, with hundreds or thousands I don't know not being in touch (thank God!). People at Kilgray don't bite and they do listen. Rather well a lot of the time. So take the time to speak up or send issues to support@kilgray.com. If something isn't urgent firefighting you might not hear back on it for a while, but user interface and feature suggestions are taken seriously, and I often get follow-up notes about something (minor) months later with interesting ideas or questions related to a solution. I'm really impressed with some of the new directions I see for all they may cost me with disruption for a while. So the conversation about needs with Kilgray is definitely worthwhile.

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  3. I'm talking about memoQ 2014 R2 with ribbons, i.e. the last stable release downloaded yesterday

    about talking to developers, I fed up doing that, after I realized I was almost the ony one on the earth to have those needs
    ;-)

    and clearly, there is nothing urgent firefighting, so I'll remain stuck on 2013 as far as I can

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  4. but ....
    I hate consider myself a dotard, so I gave it another try and ...
    WOW!
    I just found the marvelous new feature I yearned so long, that lets me merge a glossary with "Italian" as the target, with another glossary with "Italian (Italy)" as a target, that was a nightmare in the past!

    so OK, this sole improvement makes me so happy, I quickly change my mind: I'll use memoQ 2014
    ;-)

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    1. Sometimes it's the little things, Claudio. For me, the asskicker in the 2014 R2 release is the sharing of TMs and TBs. When I did this about 5 years ago as a test of the memoQ server with an ex-partner it was an enormous boost to our productivity. Now Kilgray have made this a free feature for everyone? And soon there will be APIs so other CAT tool users can share the wealth too? How cool is that? (Did you notice that I've joined the Dark Side now and use uptalk?)

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  5. LOL, just after I said I love memoq 2014, it crashed without an alert
    I'm clearly under a spell, but may be it's the regular misunderstanding between memoQ and Bit Defender
    I'll let you know within weeks if I'm accustomed to the new release

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  6. Claudio, I'm glad you found something that's useful for you in 2014 R2. You may want to look at a few other things that could address your needs.

    - If you link up memoQ with your Language Terminal account, you get drop-down lists for Client and Subject when you start a project.

    - When you start a project from a template, memoQ auto-detects your source language, and by auto-picking picking the same template you used the last time, you can also eliminate the need to enter the target language. (You can encode the language combination in the template.)

    - Templates also have an option to auto-add TMs and TBs with the same "Client" designation whenever you start a project.

    - Also, in templates, you can specify which TM/TB to use as master, so you don't have to manually pick them every time.

    - If you keep on reducing the "Add term" window by clicking Less, then the original, simplified window will come up the next time you add a term.

    Your comments about remembering the size of the window for editing a TM entry, and for making adjustable the size of the segment at the top in QA make perfect sense, much appreciated. There's one thing where I would much prefer not to go: too much file system detail. The whole idea is to not care about where things are in the file system, and care about the logical concepts (projects, TMs etc.) instead. File systems are so 90s... In any case, you can change the default folders in Options / Locations.

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  7. As you know Kevin, I tend to wait a good while before installing major new versions. But since you mentioned keyboard shortcuts, which I try to use as far as possible, let me just ask this: are the keyboard shortcuts in 2014 R2 the same as in previous versions?

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    1. Yes, Rob. The old keyboard files transfer perfectly to memoQ 21014R2. After 5 or 6 years I am still using the old DVX keyboard shortcuts in memoQ, so sometimes I mess people up a bit my mentioning things like "F5" for copying source to target. (I think the mQ default is different - in any case, about 20 or 30 commands I use are.) It was kind of funny to see Kilgray pick this point up and express it on a "tip" card via Twitter. Except there I think someone's English got the better of him, and the way the tip reads it sounds like somehow the new version with its pretty ribbons makes the use of keyboard shortcuts *easier*. Not the case at all. They are neither easier nor harder. Merely necessary to keep from losing your sanity as you search time and again for commands you use to invoke off the toolbar or menus.

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