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Jul 22, 2019

No comment... on memoQ "light" resources and their editors

The memoQ working environment includes a number of editing functions and modules, some better developed and more useful than others. Unfortunately, the terms "better" and "more useful" cannot be applied to many of those functions for creating and maintaining resources for auto-translation and many other functions. And, at the present time, integrated facilities for documenting the purpose and function of resources are usually limited to a short description field. The consequence of this can be, in a better case, some confusion, and if you are unlucky you might lose and or accidentally delete resources or apply a version unfit for use.

Auto-translation rule set editor with inadequate space for reading and writing the rules.

The auto-translation rule set editor is a particular headache for me. Scrolling back and forth in a tiny field to read and edit a long match rule (here, in the example of the number-matching auto-translation rules provided with the memoQ installation) is difficult and error-prone.

Even with the dialog-based editors which don't look much like editors (such as the example for QA options configuration below), it's hard to get an overview.


Unless I can compress all the relevant information into the description field for the resource, the only way I am going to get an overview of which functions are enabled is to go through all eight tabs for the QA profile in that dialog. Yuck. And the "why"? Maybe recorded in a notebook buried in the paper pile of my work table if I'm lucky.

There is a better way. And while that way is followed by a number of technically adept colleagues and developers I know, unfortunately it is not usually discussed and taught in workshops and other training venues, nor is it promoted by the software providers for memoQ in any way of which I am aware.

I typically recommend the use of specialized text editors, such as the free text and source code editor Notepad++ for most development, maintenance and documentation tasks involving memoQ light resources. It is available at no cost to everyone and offers simple functions to help you get an overview, edit and document your resources. Only a tiny bit of arcane knowledge is required.

Armed with such a tool, or even with the simple Windows Notepad application, there are a number of useful things that can be done, such as:

Add <!-- comments --> to the text of an MQRES light resource file saved from memoQ
The markers shown in red in the previous line can be added to a line in the file to provide explanatory comments or maintenance instructions. In files with regex content, I often use comments to explain to myself the use of syntax that I will otherwise forget and be unable to understand in a matter of hours or at best weeks.
Example of an auto-translation rule set with comments added
Note that these comments are stripped when resources are imported into memoQ, remaining only in the original external file. Thus, a workflow involving external development and documentation in the resource files, with imports to memoQ for testing and use, is highly desirable. If deficiencies are found in the resource, it should be corrected externally in Notepad++, etc. and re-imported, not fixed in-situ in memoQ, where no information will be present regarding the resource, its purpose and mysterious details.
Comments of this sort night be added to a QA profile, for example, to give a quick overview of the resource and its purpose in more detail than the description field allows (and I often forget to update that description field, because it is in the header of the file, which is usually not of much interest for developing and testing configurations, except to note a version number and a few details). 
Edit the resource more sensibly, using standard text editor features like search and replace
Often I'll decide to add nonbreaking spaces to a date or currency expression (or to the French output numbers in the "French Group" numbers auto-translation rule set provided with memoQ, which unfortunately probably still uses ordinary spaces as separators for thousands, millions, etc.), and this can be totally tedious in the internal editors of memoQ. Such tasks are much simpler in Notepad or Notepad++, for example.
It's also much simpler to find multiple instances of a word or structure that needs amendment or to do just about anything else when you can see all the content in a larger display.
Where resources are in fact simpler to develop inside memoQ, it is still worthwhile to export MQRES files as security. Comments added to these are a form of internal documentation which can avoid confusion and mistakes later when sorted file messes on a hard drive.
Teach and practice resource development and maintenance more effectively
A heavily commented resource file can be thought of as an easily portable "textbook" which includes a functional, importable example of its teaching. And when another person receives a copy of such a file as an example, it will be much easier to understand its structure and purpose and make any necessary changes.



1 comment:

  1. Completely agree that there are major benefits to editing light resources outside of memoQ. The interface when updating autotranslatables is just painful to use, with some keyboard shortcuts not working, rules being reorganised when edited, lack of comments etc.

    Just one note that I find particularly irritating, and that is the fact that you can't overwrite/update resources when importing them, so if you want to update something that is actively in use across a number of projects, you might find yourself updating multiple projects and/or having memoQ complain about missing resources.

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