Oct 29, 2015

Revised target document workflows in SDL Trados Studio 2015 vs. memoQ

Yesterday I had an unexpected opportunity to see the new SDL implementation of the feature Kilgray introduced to memoQ two years ago, in which a revised target document (or some portion thereof) is re-imported to a translation project for purposes of updating the translation memory. Since my involvement with the concept and specification of this feature in memoQ, I have been expecting the competition to follow suit, since in principle at least, this is a useful feature which nearly everyone can use in several common scenarios.

The way in which SDL Trados Studio 2015 handles project updates with edited target documents appears very different than what memoQ does, so that one might easily think that the functions are different. And this is one of those rare instances where I have to give SDL credit for a smoother, more streamlined procedure less likely to cause confusion and frustration with users.

The positive difference starts with the choice of terminology in the command interface. SDL refers to a "target document" rather than a "monolingual document" - I think this is less ambiguous and potentially confusing to an average user. The fact that these updates are perhaps not supported for bilingual formats in memoQ is one of those nerdy details which will not interest most people, especially given that there is a stable, established update process for project updates using bilingual documents.

When the reviewed file to import is selected, the user has the option to go to the aligner and correct possible matching errors for the revised target document (desirable if, for example, edits might cause the segmentation to change), but the default is to go straight back to the working window for translation and editing, with the changes already shown in tracked changes mode. Very nice.

In memoQ, the trip through the aligner is mandatory, but for simple changes, this is usually not needed, so I like the fact that Studio 2015 offers this as an option. And in memoQ, several extra steps are needed to show the changes in tracked mode (redlined markup), with confusing traps in the interface along the way. In a recent blog post, I described how Kilgray's emphasis on commands and terms relevant only to server projects, with the usual tracked changes options a translator would want buried under the "Custom" command, causes many users to conclude that tracked changes simply do not work in memoQ, which is not true at all. You just have to run the evil interface gauntlet to get there.

Does this mean I think everyone should dump memoQ and start using SDL Trados Studio 2015? Heck no. There are many processes involved in successful translation work, and switching from one tool to another based on a single feature or a just a few features is not particularly clever, no matter which way you go. (Except for "away from Across", which is always a good idea.) I am very pleased and encouraged by SDL's different approach to this feature, because it shows once again the importance of competition and different approaches to a problem. Ultimately, ergonomics and user experiences should determine the further development of a feature. In my opinion, memoQ usually has the edge here, but not always, and this is a case where improvements to this innovative feature which first appeared in memoQ could very well be inspired by SDL.


  1. Kevin, I also saw and used this feature recently in my (starter) version of Studio 2015 and, like you, I was struck by how much smoother the process was in Studio than in memoQ. Very impressive compared with the memoQ feature, which - useful though it definitely is - is clunky and fiddly.

    I don't normally rate Studio over memoQ but in this instance I do.

    1. Yes, in this case we really must give the Devil his due ;-)


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