Oct 15, 2015

The Invisible Hand of memoQ LiveDocs - making "broken" corpora work

Last month I published a post describing the "rules" for document visibility in the list of documents for a memoQ LiveDocs corpus. Further study has revealed that this is only part of the real story and is somewhat misleading.

I (wrongly) assumed that, in a LiveDocs corpus, if a document was visible in the list its content was available in concordance searches or the Translation Results pane, and if it was not shown in the list of documents for the corpus in the project, its content would not be available in the concordance or Translation Results pane. Both assumptions proved wrong in particular cases.

In the most recent versions of memoQ, for corpora created and indexed in those versions, all documents in a corpus shown in the list will be available in the concordance search and the Translation Results pane as expected. And the rules for what is currently shown in the list are described accurately in my previous post on this topic. However,

  • if there are documents in the corpus which share the same main language (as EN-US and EN-UK both share the main language, English) but are not shown in the list, these will still be used for matching in the memoQ Concordance and Translation Results and
  • if the corpus was created in an older version of memoQ (such as memoQ 2013R2), documents shown in the list of a corpus may in fact not show up in a Concordance search or in the Translation Results. 
This second behavior - documents shown in the list but their content not appearing in searches - has been described to me recently by several people, but it could not be reproduced at first, so I thought they must be mistaken, and statements that "sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't" made these pronouncements seem even more suspect. Except that they happen to be true and I now (sort of) understand why.

Prior to publishing my post to describe the rules governing the display of documents for a LiveDocs corpus in a project, I had been part of a somewhat confusing discussion with one of my favorite Kilgray experts, who mentioned monolingual "stub" documents a number of times as a possible solution to content availability in a corpus, but when I tried to test his suggestion and saw that the list of documents on display in the corpus had not expanded to include content I knew was there, I thought he was wrong. But actually, he was right; we were talking about two different things - visibility of a document versus availability of its content.

For purposes of this discussion, a stub document is a small file with content of no importance, added only to create the desired behavior in memoQ LiveDocs. It might be a little text file - "stubby.txt" - with any nonsense in it.

I went back to my test projects and corpora used to prepare the last article and found that in fact for the main languages in a project all the content was available from the corpora, regardless of whether the relevant documents were displayed in the list. In the case of a corpus not offered in the list for a project because of sublanguage mismatches in the source and target, adding a stub document with either a generic setting (DE, EN, PT, etc.) or sublanguage-specific setting for the source language or the correct sublanguage setting for the target (DE-CH, EN-US, etc.) made all the corpus content for the main languages available instantly. (In the project, documents added will have the project language settings; use the Resource Console for any other language settings you want.)

Content of a test corpus before a stub document was added. Viewed in the Resource Console.
The test corpus with the document list shown in my project; only the stub document is displayed, but
all the indexed content shown above is also available in the Concordance and Translation Results.
It is unfortunate that in the current versions of memoQ the document list for a corpus in a project may not correspond to its actual content for the main languages. Not only does this preclude accessing a document's content without a match or a search, it also means that binary documents (such as one of the PDF files shown in the list) cannot be opened from within the project. I hope this bug will be fixed soon.

Since a few of my friends, colleagues and clients were concerned about odd behavior involving older corpora, I decided to have a look at those as well. Kilgray Support had made a general recommendation of rebuilding these corpora or had at least suggested that problems might occur, so I was expecting something.

And I found it. Test corpora created in the older version of memoQ (2013 R2) behaved in a way similar to my tests with memoQ 2015 - although the "display rules" for documents in the list differed as I described in my previous blog post, the content of "hidden" documents was available in Concordance searches and in the Translation Results pane. But....

When I accessed these corpora created in memoQ 2013 R2 using memoQ 2015, even if I could see documents (for example, a monolingual source document with a generic setting), the content was available in neither the Concordance nor the Translation Results until I added an appropriate stub document under memoQ 2015. Then suddenly the index worked under memoQ 2015 and I could access all the content, regardless of whether the documents were displayed in the list. If I deleted the stub document, the content became inaccessible again.

So what should we do to make sure that all the content of our memoQ corpora are available for searches in the Concordance or matches in the Translation results?

If you always work out of the same main source language (which in my case would be German or "DE", regardless of whether the variant is from Germany, Austria or Switzerland), then add a generic language stub document for your source language to all corpora - old and new - under memoQ 2015 and all will be well.

If your corpora will be used bidirectionally, then add a generic stub for both the source and target to those corpora or add a "bilingual stub" with generic settings for both languages. This will ensure that the content remains available if you want to use the corpora later in projects with the source and target reversed.

Although it's hard to understand the principles governing what is displayed, when and why, following the advice in the red text will at least eliminate the problem of content not being available for pretranslation, concordance searches and translation grid matches. And the mystery of inconsistent behavior for older corpora appears to be solved. The cases where these older corpora have "worked" - i.e. their content has been accessible in the Concordance, etc. - are cases where new documents were added to them under recent versions of memoQ. If you just keep adding to your corpora, doing so particularly from a project with generic language settings, you'll not have to bother with stub documents and your content will be accessible.

And if Kilgray deals with that list bug so we actually see all the documents in a corpus which share the main languages of a project, including the binary ones, then I think the confusion among users will be reduced considerably.

1 comment:

  1. You're a life saver!

    Amy Bryant


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