Mar 23, 2017

First month with SDL Trados 2017

A month ago, when I announced the Great Leap Forward from my rather neglected SDL Trados 2014 license to the latest, presumably greatest version, SDL Trados 2017, after seeing how wet the largely untested release of memoQ 8 (aka Adriatic) has proved to be, there was some surprise, as well as smiles and frowns from various quarters. It's been a busy month, and I am still testing options for effective workflow migration and exchange (useful in any case given how often memoQ users work together with those who prefer SDL tools) as well as discussing the good and bad experiences of friends, colleagues and clients who use SDL Trados Studio 2017.

As can be expected, this product has more than a bit of a bleeding edge character, though on the whole it does seem to be a little more stable and less buggy than memoQ Adriatic so far, with fewer what the Hell were they smoking moments. However....

I was a little concerned at the report from a colleague in Lisbon that the integration of the plug-in for SDL Trados Studio access to Kilgray Language Terminal amd memoQ Server translation memories doesn't work with SDL Trados 2017 after functioning so well in SDL Trados 2014 and 2015. Despite the stupid inter-company politics between SDL and Kilgray, which hindered the approval of the plug-in so that a warning dialog appeared each time it was loaded in SDL Trados Studio (bad form by the boys in Maidenhead), it was a great tool for users of SDL Trados Studio and memoQ to share TMs in small team projects. I was very happy with how it worked with SDL Trados Studio 2014, and I am very disappointed to see that API changes in the latest version have bunged things up so that Kilgray will have more work to re-enable this useful means of collaboration. I hope that SDL will see fit to be less petty and more cooperative with the upcoming "fixed" plug-in! It is in their interest to do so, as this makes it easier for SDL Trados users to stick to their favorite tool while working on jobs for or with those who prefer memoQ as their resource. Better work ergonomics for everyone and no BS with CAT wars.

I was pleased to see that SDL Trados Studio has added AutoCorrect facilities recently. And they seem to work reasonably well in English and mostly in German, though there was a strange quirk which hamstrung the "correct as you type" feature. That setting took a while to "stick" somehow when I tested it first with German. It was fine for Portuguese too. However, Ukrainian and Arab colleagues can't get it to work for some reason. I did not believe this at first until a colleague in Egypt showed me live via shared screens in Skype how the autocorrection simply failed to activate. Perhaps this is an issue with languages that don't use the Roman alphabet, so I suppose colleagues in Russia, Serbia, Japan and elsewhere may be tearing some hair out over this one. It doesn't affect me directly, but it looks like a pretty serious bug that ought to be addressed ASAP.

SDL generally kicks some butt with regex facilities in SDL Trados Studio; customer service guru Paul Filkin has written a lot about these features on his Multifarious blog, and most advanced users of the platform make heavy use of regular expressions in filters and QA rules. For a long time, memoQ users could only look on in envy at all the excellent possibilities before Kilgray belatedly added more regex options to its work environment. However, there are a few raw rubs remaining.

My Arabic translator friend pinged me recently to ask if I was aware of the "regex trouble" in the latest Studio version. He made heavy use of these features for Arabic and English work in some rather amazing, creative and inspiring ways (I had not imagined) in earlier versions of SDL Trados Studio, and some of these features are rather broken at present in SDL Trados 2017. He gave me a very useful tutorial (which I had planned to beg him for anyway soon) in the use of regex in SDL Trados Studio for basic filtering, advanced filtering and QA checks. Overall I was very impressed with the possibilities, but the failure of some regular expressions which worked well in the advanced filters to work at all in the basic filter or in QA rulesets was very disturbing. We argued a little about what the basis of the problem could be in the software programming, but it is a major problem which limits the functionality of SDL's latest software severely and should cause advanced users and LSPs to wait and watch for the fix before upgrading to the latest version. The persistence of such a major flaw in such an important area as quality assurance some 6 months after release is frankly shocking. I hope this will be addressed very soon so that I can migrate and upgrade some of me favorite QA routines from memoQ.

Last but not least is an irritating bug in an auxiliary feature for what has always been one of my favorite terminology tools, MultiTerm. It was the first Trados product many years ago, and despite many quirks over the decades, it remains one of the best. Face it: the memoQ terminology model is OK for most practical uses, but for maintaining high quality corporate terminologies tracking many important attributes it is hopeless garbage. Most other CAT tool terminology databases and glossaries are far worse. MultiTerm sets the standard today still for affordable, flexible, powerful terminology management. For 17 years I have used this excellent platform for my best terminologies for my best clients and delighted in its output management options (even when they can be a pain in the butt to configure properly).

When I want to access my high value MultiTerm resources while translating in memoQ or working in web pages or MS Word, I use the convenient MultiTerm widget to access the data. However, I am very disappointed to find that recent versions do not display the attributes for terms when the widget is used for lookup. Damn. That makes the results just as annoying as the lobotomized MultiTerm/TBX imports into memoQ. I really hope that SDL fixes this flaw ASAP and remains on top of the terminology game with MultiTerm and its lookup tools as a valuable resource even for translators who hate Trados Studio and won't use it.

Overall I am seeing a lot of nice things in SDL Trados Studio 2017, and I would say it is probably more mature and stable than memoQ 8 at this point. But it really is just a late-stage beta release, and more fixes are needed before I can trust it for routine production work. We are all better off for now to stick with the prior versions of both SDL Trados Studio and memoQ.


  1. Hi Kevin,

    Regarding the autocorrect feature in Studio, I’ve encountered a doozy of a bad decision from SDL’s developers:

    Although a translator may choose to enable smart quotes (and other autocorrect features) in his work, SDL disables smart quotes and autocorrect when track changes are active (e.g., when you are in review or sign-off mode). This is not a bug, it was a deliberate decision; SDL Support tells me that “This currently is by design so that no uncontrolled/automatic changes should happen when typing in review mode.”

    SDL's developers have failed to anticipate that disabling smart quotes (and other autocorrect features) during review or sign-off may lead to real errors.
    For example:

    1) The translation is done with smart quotes enabled. So the translator writes his translation with smart double and single quotes, and smart apostrophes.
    2) The translation is then sent to a reviewer. Working in review mode, she edits the translator’s work. Any changes she makes that involve writing quotes or apostrophes will be the wrong kind (and the translation will now have a nice mess of mixed straight and smart quotes.)
    3) The translation is sent back to the translator for sign off. In sign off mode the translator cannot correct the quotes back to “smart” mode either.

    Bonus problem: quotes and apostrophes are tiny characters, so it is entirely possible that editor and translator won’t realize what has happened… perhaps, only the customer will discover the whole mess, after printing the final document.

    For myself I have a solution: I’m back to using AutoHotkey to replace straight quotes with smart quotes no matter what straitjacket Studio imposes; but this should never have been allowed to happen. At first I thought it was a bug… it’s worse than that: it’s a deliberate decision taken without considering the outcome.

    I wrote to Paul Filkin about this, and he suggested that I write about it in SDL's "Ideas" site ( I did, and now apparently the option to let the users decide how they want the program to behave is going to be considered for the future (I don't know when, though).

  2. One thing in which SDL is badly behind Kilgray: SDL doesn't allow, or makes it extremely difficult, to revert to a previous version. With memoQ you can install any old version you want, so if v. 8 doesn't work properly, you can reinstall 2015, or 2013, or whatever, and keep on working. Or you can have several different versions installed on your computer to accommodate finicky clients who have not updated their server versions of memoQ. On the other hand, right now my wife is still stuck with an older version of Studio because her main customer has not yet upgraded to 2017 or 2015, so she cannot upgrade, either.

    1. Reinstall? I never uninstall the old versions of memoQ for many reasons, most of which involve supporting colleagues and clients who experience trouble and verifying the presence, absence or function of features in versions I haven't used in a long time. Kilgray has claimed for a while that the old problem of client/server compatibility is largely resolved, but it does not hurt anything to keep a free "insurance policy" by leaving old versions in place. Where there are, in fact, incompatibilities I often use different versions for preparation and the actual work of translation to take advantage of particular features or avoid stability problems.

    2. Exactly what I mean: at the moment (new computer) I have memoQ 2015 and v.8 installed, but in my old computer I had all versions from 6.2 through 2015, and it was easy to switch between them as necessary, all with just one license. In Studio, on the other hand, this can be either difficult or impossible -- unless one, instead of upgrading his license, bought completely new ones every time.

  3. I'm a bit disappointed not to see details around the regex and QA issues you mention Kevin. Any chance you can elaborate or drop me an email with the detail so I can see what the situation is?

    1. Sameh Rageb showed me the regex issues live via, and they are quite reproducible on my system here. I did not show the details of the specific regex used, because it was rather interesting stuff that he'll be using in some presentations this month (April I think) and I promised no "spoilers". As for the AutoCorrect problems, I am just a spectator for that, though I suppose if it breaks for Ukrainian it will probably mess up with Russian for me if I test that. He can show you the problem in Arabic via Skype if you ask him.

    2. Oops. "via Skype". Damn these uncorrectable Google Blogger comments. After so many years, a platform switch would be an utter nuisance, but it is tempting with all the technical nonsense here. I'm sorry that you've been plagued with problems leaving comments here again Paul.

  4. Kevin, re "Great Leap Forward," Trados Studio (2015 & 2017) allows projects with multiple MpT provider instances. You can add 3 Slate Desktop MpT providers, one configured with a generic engine, another with a customer-specific engine and the third with an industry-specific engine. Of course, all spew MpT garbage for you to prospect the nuggets :)

    1. For those who use MpT input I think the multiple provider feature of SDL Trados Studio (versus some other platforms) is a nice thing. As for "nuggets", in the little testing I have had time for, I have seen some technically intriguing details but nothing that speeds my work in any way so far.


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