May 1, 2009

Why not now?

In my last post, I mentioned that the product manager for the new release of SDL Trados Studio 2009 informed me that the limitation on Freelance licenses being used on the same network will be removed in the new version for workgroup-based networks. That is, of course, very good news, and I applaud SDL for addressing the concerns of small teams like mine. However, after talking about this at the translators gathering here in Hohen Neuendorf last night and sleeping on the matter, the thought occurred to me: why not now? There really is no reason I accept for continuing to disallow multiple freelance licenses to operate on a small home network like ours.

What about it, SDL? Why not do your users a big favor and look good by killing this limit now? I know it's possible, because your technical people did it for me in Trados 2006 while refusing to release that fix to the rest of the world. This is "low hanging fruit" as some like to put it: an easy win for the company and the product to counteract the enormous amount of bad press you get for obnoxious marketing, bugs and usually deficient support.

Some may get the impression that I have an axe to grind with SDL, and over specific issues - like the lack of a reasonable upgrade path for my MultiTerm Extract license and the refusal to replace my very expensive Passolo Team 5 dongle - I do indeed. But if even the worst of sinners can come to Jesus and be forgiven, companies can put their past behind them and take a new path for the benefit of all, and I would like to see SDL and others address their problems in a useful way and become worthy competitors on the market that can be respected for the quality of their products and service and bring out the best in the competition by continuously innovating instead of pretending to do so behind a smokescreen of propaganda. There is real value in SDL products. There is a real return on the investment if one knows how to use them and knows how to market one's services with them. But right now - today - the best value for most freelancers and LSPs lies elsewhere, though this may not be clear given all the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) marketing. In a year my opinion might be different, but that opinion will be based on facts and real experience as a user and not be influenced by the resolution of my current disputes with SDL (except with regard to my feelings about customer service) or the spam mail I receive almost daily.

I want to see SDL, Kilgray, Atril and others engaged in a healthy competition, with each offering useful unique innovations to address the needs of various markets, not engaged in copycat development and IBM-style cut-throat marketing based on lies. In one way or another, I'll probably continue to use TEnT tools from all three according to the needs of specific projects and my desire for efficiency. The history of user treatment and marketing tactics by Kilgray and Atril that I have observed over the years has been rather positive, and I respect that a lot. With Trados, later SDL Trados after the merger, I have often felt insulted and manipulated, and my actual encounters with "support" have been very mixed: super, helpful responses from some followed by complete idiocy and unreasonableness in the next encounter. It's time to put that all to rest, but that's something SDL will have to do by making an extra, real effort. That effort might include unlocking Trados Freelance versions for concurrent network use now - in the current version.


  1. I know this is a competitive post, but given the last few comments I can not help myself!

    I worked at SDL for 9 years and it is a systemic issue - they just don;t listen like they should.

    I am now at Lionrbidge and I know we have not been much better, but we are putting our past behind us and we are going to release a new class of totally LIVE TM interaction in a few months. It will also be much cheaper that Trados for Freelancers and be delivered as a SaaS pay as you need it model. If nothing else the competition will be back int he market!

  2. Hi Kevin
    I just discovered your wonderful blog. my two colleagues and I (3 freelancers) have been suffering for years from trados. And it cost us dearly - thousands of euros, just to be able to work in a network and have simultenous acces to one memory.
    Now I tried to pry some answers out of the german sales rep thomas in england, but of no avail. he is unable to explain freelance plus to us and told us that it woud not work for us.
    so might i ask your opinion? there are mostly only 2 of us, our third partner currently lives in Switzerland. Just like you we are a small office and by no means an agency. We just want to access the same memory on the server and already purchased TRados' expensive software 5 years ago(and paid 14.000 DM then).
    The next upgrade as a workgroup would cost almost 6000 Euros - after hard bargaining and a small discount of 25% for Multiterm which we already had purchsaed in 2003 as Mulitterm ix Server, which never worked. Not to mention TermExtract which never worked either and for which Trados declined an update.

    I am seriously considering Déjá Vu as an alternative which would also cost 5000 €, but without future update costs.

    Sorry, this comment is now a bit longer than I excepted but maybe you might be interested in this information. o, and waht with names etc. I have bben a client noch for 15 years, my colleagues each for 9 years. They never get our name right and ALWAYS - without exception - have trouble finding us in their database.

    I woudl be thrilled if you could give us a little hint on Trados.

    All the best from
    Nicolette Quigley

  3. @Nicolette: As you know, I'm a great fan of Déjà Vu, and I owe much of the technical success of my business over the years to the versatility of Atril's software. However, under the current circumstances, I think that MemoQ is a more responsible recommendation, especially given Kilgray's vigorous pace of development.

    As for the Trados issues, I really can't say much at this point. When I saw what a clusterfuck SDL had made of their Studio 2009 upgrade I decided to ignore the whole mess until the smoke clears. That will be a while yet. I think for cost-effectiveness and decent server performance Kilgray's MemoQ solution is hard to beat right now. A 5-license server edition is something like 4K euros.

  4. I found this site looking for answers regarding the Multiterm Extract license. Apparently I'm not the only one pissed off because SDL wants to let us pay extra for a relatively simple tool that should be basic to the very expensive package...


Notice to spammers: your locations are being traced and fed to the recreational target list for my new line of chemical weapon drones :-)