Oct 12, 2011

Working between SDL Trados Studio 2009 and 2011

Recently I was asked by a friend, who for inexplicable reasons considers me to be some sort of Trados expert, whether she would have to upgrade to the new SDL Trados Studio 2011 because a client of hers had done so. Although there are many good reasons to upgrade to the new version, in her case there are valid personal reasons to delay doing so for a few months.

As usual, I didn't have a clue how to answer her question about whether her SDL Trados Studio 2009 Freelance software could open a package created in Studio 2011 by her client. So I took the lazy but safe path and asked an SDL employee I trust (yes, there are such people believe it or not). He responded with the following comment:
"Answer to your question is yes... 2011 also has an option to create a package specifically for 2009 so you can go both ways quite easily... the creation of a specific package needs to be based on the receiving tool because of differences in the way projects are handled between the two, but the return package created is good for 2009 or 2011."

Not surprising that there is compatibility here, really, given that the new version also offers legacy compatibility with the old Trados Workbench RTF/Word bilingual format used by several other tools such as Wordfast Classic. Overall, it seems quite worthwhile for a user of Studio 2009 to upgrade, but there is no urgency to do so to remain compatible for working with others who have Studio 2011.


  1. Of course, there is one caveat: one I think is quite important. The selection of version 2009 or 2011 needs to be made at the level of the client. More often than not, clients are either not well enough aware of the (in)compatibilities of their software and the capabilities of their translators to consider this factor, or just aren't inclined to 'change their ways' for an individual translator.
    In my experience, most clients who actively work with packages are big corporate clients that have standard procedures that cannot be deviated from. I.e., if they decide to send packages in 2011 format, they expect the translator to be able to accept them or they move on to the next translator who does.

  2. As far as i can see, the most compelling reason for upgrading from Studio 2009 to Studio 2011 is the possibility of working with the legacy bilingual rtf/doc format (Trados Workbench format), since so many agencies still ask specifically for it.

    Other than that the improved display filter and the possibility of using track changes during editing seem to be the most interesting new features.

  3. Actually, Riccardo, I consider the SDL implementation of external review tables in Word or Excel formats to be a really big deal as well. I won't lecture here on how much this feature has helped me and my clients in DV, DVX and memoQ over the years, and although SDL was late to the game, what I saw in Paul Filkin's presentation in Warsaw at the end of last month was the best approach yet.

    @Guus: Of course the person generating the package needs to choose which type to create. That's evident from the screen shot. And my feeling is that if a client is too stiff-necked and inflexible to send me the package I need, they can take a long walk off a short pier. Partnership is a two-way thing requiring accommodation by both parties, and this isn't asking any great sacrifice.

  4. Hi Kevin,

    Forgotten about that, but you are absolutely right: an excellent feature - and I've been using is ever since it became available as an Open Exchange tool.

    It's a good thing that SDL made the colossal blunder of not including the possibility of working on bilingual rtf/doc files in Studio 2009 - that opened the gates to many good competing products, and now SDL has had to improve its own products to keep up with the competition (I'm thinking of things such as the track changes feature, first offered by MemoQ, I believe).

  5. I'll stay with SDL 2009. Upgrading it every time is too expensive

  6. Not to mention all the bugs and other time-wasting problems that accompany most SDL upgrades.

  7. As someone who does the issuing of packages, does anyone know if there is any real advantage to sending out a Studio 2011 package if the translator/reviser uses 2011. With a little experimentation in-house, it seems that a 2011 user can still carry out tracked changes on files from 2009 packages.
    Presumably, there is some reduction in functionality, but how significant is it? It gets a little wearying trying to remember which version a provider uses, so I generally go with the policy of if in doubt send a 2009 package out.

  8. @Anonymous - Sending out 2009 packages will not earn you the love of SDL, where they are making a list of such things and checking it twice. Thou shalt not make life easy on users of older software versions. Expect a lump of coal this Christmas. Oh wait, I forgot... SDL Trados Studio 2014 has already shipped....

  9. In answer to my own previous comment, the main loss of functionality that I have discovered is that if a project has been created with the possibility of editing source text, this possibility seems to be lost once the project has passed through the 2009 phase.


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