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layout of translation window: horizontal vs vertical
Thread poster: Heike Behl, Ph.D.

Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:32
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Sep 14, 2007

I am a long-time Trados user but would like to explore other CAT tools. There are so many new products available...

I have seen a number of screenshots of the respective translation environments and it seems that most (all?) of the tools offer the source segments in a column on the left, the target segments in a column on the right side.

I am used to working with the alternating (T/S, T/S) horizontal layout of Trados and I can't really imagine that I would be happy with that vertical layout. In Trados, while I type in the translation I can follow both source and target segment at the same time, whereas in the vertical layout, I would think that your eyes have to jump back and forth between left and right constantly.

Two questions:
- Are there CAT programs where the direction of the source/target layout is user-definable? Or that are based on a horizontal layout similar to Trados? I'm also mostly interested in file formats other than Word, ie. I'm not interested in tools that work within the Word environment but those that import the source files into a separate work environment.

- What is your personal experience with the table-like vertical layout? I'm particularly interested in answers from translators that have used both types, but any kind of feedback is appreciated.

Thanks!


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Antoní­n Otáhal
Local time: 23:32
Member (2005)
English to Czech
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Star Transit Sep 14, 2007

At

http://public.otahal.biz/Clipboard01.jpg

is a screen dump of my working environment in Star Transit; but you have full control over the windows - horizontal with the translation at the top and original ar the bottom (my choice) or vice versa, or left/right or whatever. You can save five layouts, I think - I only use one anyway. Transit keeps the original and translation in different files, btw - it may feel strange for Trados users, but has some advantages. The actual segment's background is automatically coloured any colour you like (and the trasnlated and untranslated ones as well) - so your eyes are natrally led to the most important points on the screen.

To your question - I have tried working with Heartsome cliff editor and I am not too happy with the left/right column-like arrangement of the translation workspace, but I suppose I would get used to it if I had to.

Antonin


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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I prefer above-below Sep 14, 2007

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:
I have seen a number of screenshots of the respective translation environments and it seems that most (all?) of the tools offer the source segments in a column on the left, the target segments in a column on the right side.


Yes. I hate it.

Are there CAT programs where the direction of the source/target layout is user-definable?


In Transit PE, the source and target are two different windows, so theoretically you can position them above-below, but your eyes still have to travel quite a bit unless you reduce the windows to two horizontal strips (which removes all context visually).

The web-based system Pootle can theoretically be changed to above-below, if you edit the HTML templates and CSS files that form the GUI.

OmegaT, Trados and Wordfast use the above-below method.

Tools that use side-by-side method with no option to change to above-below, are Heartsome's XLIFF tool, Sun's XLIFF tool, Idiom, Cafetran, EvilTrans, Isometry, spreadsheet-like tools like Taipan and LocStudio, DVX, PoEdit, Pootling, etc. Kindly correct me if I'm wrong.

In an ideal world I would charge three or five times as much if I'm forced to use such a tool. As it happens, I usually just hack it so that I can use Wordfast instead.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:32
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
visibility/identifiability of tags Sep 14, 2007

After messing around with MemoQ for a few hours, I can narrow the search further down...

I want to/must be able to see all internal and external tags as they often can provide info as to context and formatting. Eg. if I translate an Excel file, it can be very useful to be able to see which TUs belong to the same cell, or whether a TU is a bulleted item or a new heading in Word.

MemoQ displays all remaining internal tags ("uninterpreted tags") as sequential numbers. Therefore, I have no idea what these tags are actually doing. For example, bookmark tags are reprented as {1}. Text that is presented in a different color is shown in black with {1} {2} around it. How am I supposed to know whether I need those tags and where they are supposed to go in the target? Is there a way to make them visible?

I also couldn't export this only paritally translated project since it gave me a large number of errors: Uninterpreted formatting tags do not match.
These warnings disappear if the tags/numbers are included in the target segment. This also means I can only export fully translated texts. Makes sense to some extent, but the preview feature in TE has been extremely useful many, many times. There is also no way to accept all error messages in one step; each one has to be dealt with individually. I also find it a bit worrisome that the automatically generated TOC items are actually listed as TUs...

Sorry, if I'm ranting too much here, but I must say that after hearing so many positive things about MemoQ, I'm vastly disappointed as this tool seems basically useless for me. It feels a bit like "CAT for dummies", where any piece of information that is a bit more complex is hidden from the translator in order not put too heavy an intellectual burden on him/her. That might work in plain text projects, but even working with a standard Word document with TOC and bookmarks feels like flying blind (without instruments, that is). And having to look up the original file to find out what {1}{2}{3} might mean is not exactly productive.

Also, while translating, I actually missed partial matches displayed in the right-most area. For each segment, I would have to make the conscious effort to check at the right to see whether there's a match or not. There is no indication in the actual source/target area.

I like to see all important information at one glance, without lifting my eyes from the TUs.

It looks like Transit does provide all that information. Does that program use color codes matches so that you can see at once whether there's a full or partial match in the tm?
But at first sight, I think the TE UI is much more userfriendly and the tags easier identifiable as such.

AFAIK, OmegaT and WordFast don't handle all file types that Trados does, right? That is, you have to "hack" it, as Samuel puts it? What about the tags? Are they displayed?


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:32
Spanish to English
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Déjà Vu Sep 15, 2007

As soon as I acquired Déjà Vu and started working with it, I switched the layout to two vertically stacked windows; the source above the target, and I have never changed back. It is very convenient; one can almost visually take in both at the same time.

Also for a long time, I had both in the same font, but then after some other users mentioned different fonts, I chose slightly different fonts for source and target, and I soon got habituated to subconsciously taking in that visual cue of association one font with source and the other font with target.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:32
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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You'll soon get used to it Sep 15, 2007

I still use Wordfast and Trados every day, but I like the editor of SDLX most. So I have no problem to switch between these two views, but the two-columns view is more convenient. When source and target segments are interspersed, you have always to switch to target view before you really see the whole text.

In SDLX you automatically restrict search and replace to either source or target, which is a big advantage when doing corrections.
Most convenient though is propagation: when translating/editing the first occurence the later occurences are updated automatically. In TE the segments are fixed and you have to change each segment manually.
In Transit I do not like many things, but use it for certain customers.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:32
German to English
+ ...
layout of translation window: horizontal vs vertical Sep 15, 2007

My experience is similar to Samuel's. I find the dual-column interface very unnatural.

To me, translation is a one-dimensional process. You are either considering the text linearly (either the source *or* the target, depending upon what stage of the process you are at, i.e. first draft, revision), or you are translating one segment, in which case you are thinking along the source-target axis. Having source and target displayed all the time presupposes that the translator can or needs to think in both dimensions (longitudinally down the text, laterally between source and target) at the same time.

I find this conceptually impossible, and the display of both texts in their entirety (i.e. full context) is therefore at best a major constraint on good interface design. I accept that I'm biased through my experience with in-line interfaces, particularly OmegaT (and before that, Trados and Wordfast), and that others may have a different conceptual approach.

The resulting UI invariably gives the impression that the translator is translating a table, not a paragraph, what I describe as the "Excel experience". (It would be fair to say that OmegaT gives the impression that each segment is a discrete paragraph, and that it would be worth considering modifying that.)

The problem with tags is that if they are all displayed in full, you can't see the wood for the tags, so to speak. Obviously it is nice to have a tag hide/display toggle, but if the tags were displayed in full, I suspect that you would find yourself continually toggling the hide/display, because it would be impractical to translate with them displayed. Abbreviated tags are a compromise (and also the solution in OmegaT, to answer another of your questions). It may be easier to toggle not between displaying and hiding the tags, but between the TM application and the original application of the source text. (A bit like supermarket shopping: do you look at the produce, or the signs above them when you are searching for something? Depending upon a number of factors, one or other method will enable you to find the product you're looking for more quickly.) I don't find toggling to the original source file inconvenient - it's just Alt-Tab on my system.

From what I've heard, very few CAT tools can rival Trados in the range of supported file formats. Trados arguably doesn't support them very well and other products may be more amenable to hacking (OmegaT is very XML-oriented for instance and therefore very transparent in this respect), but that is speculation.

HTH,
Marc


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Expand tags Sep 15, 2007

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:
MemoQ displays all remaining internal tags ("uninterpreted tags") as sequential numbers. Therefore, I have no idea what these tags are actually doing.


Both TagEditor and Transit has the function of expanding tags so you can see what they stand for. I'm sure MemoQ would have something similar.

AFAIK, OmegaT and WordFast don't handle all file types that Trados does, right?


Yes and no. It depends what you mean by "handle it". If you translate an HTML file using Trados, for example, Trados uses a tagging filter to separate the translatable from the untranslatable content. If you were to attempt to translate some new, novel format in Trados, you'd have to first create a filter (not sure if users can create their own filters in Trados). Trados comes shipped with many filters... Wordfast comes shipped with only a few, but many of the formats that Trados can handle, can theoretically be handled by Wordfast too... if you can find or write the right filter.

What about the tags? Are they displayed?


Wordfast translates MS Office files in WYSIWIG -- it doesn't tag it like DVX or OmegaT or TagEditor does. For formats like XML and other files of which you're really translating the underlying source code, Wordfast doesn't contract the tags -- they remain fully visible. What Wordfast does is to protect the tags so that you can copy them easily and recognise them easily because they're in a different colour. This can be disconcerting... I'm translating TTX files right now and the tags are often longer and more complex than the piece of text inbetween it. I can understand why some translators prefer them to be hidden or contracted.

OmegaT displays contracted tags, but it does provide some clue about the type of tag nonetheless. Translating TTX in Wordfast is confusing but really straight-forward (not much of a hack, I'd say). Translating TTX in OmegaT is only possible with comprehensive pre- and post-processing of the source text files -- I wouldn't recommend it unless you're fanatical.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:32
German to English
+ ...
Different DVX layout Sep 15, 2007

GoodWords wrote:
As soon as I acquired Déjà Vu and started working with it, I switched the layout to two vertically stacked windows; the source above the target, and I have never changed back. It is very convenient; one can almost visually take in both at the same time.
Also for a long time, I had both in the same font, but then after some other users mentioned different fonts, I chose slightly different fonts for source and target, and I soon got habituated to subconsciously taking in that visual cue of association one font with source and the other font with target.


I like the 2 column layout. In fact I have adapted DVX to give me a 4 column layout (you could even call it 6 columns).

The centrepiece down the centre of the screen is the source and target text. I normally keep the active sentence roughly in the centre of the screen, so that I can see at a glance what came before (in both source and target) and what comes afterwards.
If I want to make a more systematic comparison within the project, I either sort all segments alphabetically or mark a specific word or phrase and "filter" on that text (so I then see all segments that include that text, and only those segments).

On the left of the screen I have my matches from the TM arranged vertically (in 2 columns in smaller type). I can adjust the width of this panel "on the fly" depending on the project or the individual segment. If it is a project with long segments and few TM matches, this TM panel does not have to take up a lot of width. The "file navigator" window (a control panel that is used to open single files, "all files" view and/or the lexicon and to export individual files) is normally collapsed at the top of this panel, and I expand it when needed.

On the right of the screen I have the matches from my terminology database, again in 2 columns in a smaller type.

This of course means that there is a lot of information crammed onto my 19" screen, but I find it manageable (and I can even work with this arrangement when I need to use my laptop with its 14" screen).

So although I use the same product as GoodWords, we obviously have different working methods and arrange our material differently.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:32
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no expansion for Word/html tags in MemoQ Sep 15, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Heike Behl, Ph.D. wrote:
MemoQ displays all remaining internal tags ("uninterpreted tags") as sequential numbers. Therefore, I have no idea what these tags are actually doing.


Both TagEditor and Transit has the function of expanding tags so you can see what they stand for. I'm sure MemoQ would have something similar.



It definitely doesn't look that way. Here's an excerpt from the MemoQ help file:


The name uninterpreted formatting tag refers to the fact that once the document is imported into MemoQ, the actual meaning of the tags (precisely what type of formatting change they stand for) is ignored until the document is exported. [Ie. the {1}{2}{3} etc. are purely graphic placeholders]

Remember, the order of translation tags cannot be changed in the target document, as it could easily lead to the invalidty of the document file. [Did I mention "CAT for dummies"?] Sometimes, however, you need to change the order of certain words, like in the case of some genitive structure. [...] In MemoQ, you have some limited control [!!] over formatting, as the three most common intra-segment formatting options, bold, italic and underline are interpreted, and you are free to change the order of these.
[/quote]

My comments added in square brackets.

That is, not only do you not know what those placeholders stand for, you're even forced to insert them in the very same order. And there is much more to formatting than just bold, italics and underline... If I think of English/German translation, where the word order often is pretty much opposite and hardly any word remains in the same order, this could easily develop into a nightmare...

A little sample:

This word is [1]red[2], and this word is [3]blue[4].

I want my German translation to read:
This word is blue, and this word is red. (This is a simplified example, but sentences where the second half - including tags - has to be moved to the start of the sentence are fairly common in EG.

There is no way to do it. I can insert the placeholders one after the other, ie. the first one inserted is labelled 1, the next one 2 and so on. If I toggle through the numbers, I can insert 3 in front of "blue". However, as soon as I add any other tag, it automatically changes into 1.

Or if I have an English compound that applies two different tags, there is no way I can use a different target structure:

This one changes the [1] font [2] size[3] and the color. ("font size" is in a different size, "size" is in a different color)

No way I could translated this with correct formatting as:
Hier wird die Größe und Farbe der Schriftart geändert.
(here, the size and color of the font are changed)

Another problem is that two tags, the closing of the font size and of the color, are merged into one. This problem would probably exist in other CAT tools as well, but I can manipulate the tags much better and insert tags that were not present in the source file - which is also fairly common in German - and copy/paste tags from other segments.

Granted, in most cases bold, italics and underline will suffice, but just this not-knowing what exactly these placeholders represent is not productive. If, at least, you could export the unfinished translation to get a preview of the actual target formatting, but this is also not possible. A big Thumbs Down for this program, I'm afraid.


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Igor Kmitowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:32
English to Polish
+ ...
Cafetran translation window layout Sep 15, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Tools that use side-by-side method with no option to change to above-below, are Heartsome's XLIFF tool, Sun's XLIFF tool, Idiom, Cafetran, EvilTrans, Isometry, spreadsheet-like tools like Taipan and LocStudio, DVX, PoEdit, Pootling, etc. Kindly correct me if I'm wrong.


You can change the layout of the translation window in Cafetran as you like, side-by-side or above-below, or even detach the windows if you wish.


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István Lengyel
Hungary
Local time: 23:32
English to Hungarian
+ ...
tags in MemoQ Sep 16, 2007

Hello Heike and everyone else,

I am one of the architects of MemoQ, and I thought I'd comment on the issue of tags. What you wrote down is true for the file formats you tried MemoQ on. The tool was designed having the technically not too talented translator in mind - who are still in majority especially among those users who do not use translation tools, the ideal market for us -, and one of the design objectives was to kick-start people within two hours. Originally all Office file formats (incl. RTF), HTML and TTX worked this way. The semi-WYSIWYG (bold/italic/underline free to manipulate) approach was a recognition that sometimes you need to deal with formatting. We found that it's the best trade-off between simplicity/file format independence and the need for post-editing the target file.

Actually, formats like Excel and PowerPoint are not tagged file formats (the only way to handle them is through Office Automation), and treating them as a tagged format is very dangerous - the file may become corrupted even if you only change some tags that seem 'innocent'.

Later we introduced XML and the XML offspring formats (INX, MIF) where you can already see 'expanded tags' - we call them inline tags -, i.e. those that you are used to when working in Tageditor.

Now this is history and what we have today, so let's see how we try to address your issues:

- we will add the Office 2007 and OpenOffice.org XML file formats to the range of tagged formats soon - this means you'll be able to work with tags if you import docx instead of RTF (RTF's tagging is often too much, most of the tags don't mean a thing at all, e.g. Word does not remove tags whenever the format is changed back - just have a look at an RTF file in a plain text editor and you'll see what I'm talking about) or the XML equivalent of Excel,

- in v2.2 (out in 2 months) you will have bilingual RTF export/import. This doesn't solve your problem, but you'll be able to work on MemoQ documents with another (visual) TM tool,

- in v2.3 we will introduce a new pane that will show you the preview of the original file and will put a red box around the segment you are translating - so you'll see the formatting context.

So the solution to your issue will be working on docx with the preview pane. That will enable you to see the tags, see what they do to the text, and change the order if need be.

I can clearly see that you are not happy about the current situation. Well, right now we are targeting users who are not file format experts unlike you, and we are also targeting those users who use similar tools like DVX or SDLX. We will try to address the needs of current users of Trados or Wordfast later. MemoQ is still under heavy development despite the fact that it's already used by quite a few users and companies, especially because of the server-client solution and the ContexTM technology. So please, give us a year and then try again

Best regards,
István Lengyel


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:32
German to Spanish
+ ...
Vertical Sep 16, 2007

Without entering in another matters, like tags seeing, etc:

How do we read/write in european/american cultures?
From left to right and from top to botton. That's it.

Imho, I guess reading from top to bottom and going back to top ro continue translating the same paragraph will only stress your eyes.

Maybe, it will be interesting to look for a medical advice about this...



[Edited at 2007-09-16 15:34]


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:32
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
:-) Sep 16, 2007

Thanks for your detailed reply, István!

István Lengyel wrote:

The tool was designed having the technically not too talented translator in mind - who are still in majority especially among those users who do not use translation tools, the ideal market for us -, and one of the design objectives was to kick-start people within two hours.



This is definitely an understandable approach, and I think you probably succeed with getting translators without prior CAT experience up and running fast.

However, I find it a bit dangerous to restrict the users' abilities in order to "protect" them from harm, particularly as they probably are not aware of the fact and the possible impact. They might deliver translations that cause problems for the client or have to spend a fair amount of time post-editing the translation in the output file - both aspects that might cause frustration and turn them away from CAT tools as not being efficient enough. And, as I mentioned, languages that require a fair amount of restructuring from source to target language are probably the ones most affected.

By not providing the ability to manipulate tags in MemoQ, it is also implied that the translator does not have to be concerned about these issues, which is simply not the case.

It's a fact that our profession has become so much more than "just" translating, and a certain technical know-how is an absolute must in order to be successful in the long run. And I doubt that providing a tool to a professional translator that restricts their ability right from the start is a good idea to introduce newcomers to the abilities and advantages of CAT technologies.

However, I welcome your comments on the planned additions/changes for the upcoming releases. I will definitely keep an eye on MemoQ, particularly since it seems to offer some other strong features!


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:32
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
SDLX Sep 16, 2007

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I still use Wordfast and Trados every day, but I like the editor of SDLX most. So I have no problem to switch between these two views, but the two-columns view is more convenient. When source and target segments are interspersed, you have always to switch to target view before you really see the whole text.

In SDLX you automatically restrict search and replace to either source or target, which is a big advantage when doing corrections.
Most convenient though is propagation: when translating/editing the first occurence the later occurences are updated automatically. In TE the segments are fixed and you have to change each segment manually.
In Transit I do not like many things, but use it for certain customers.


I completely forgot that I do have a licence for SDLX!
I hope I'll have some time to install that program to give it a test drive.

Even if it turns out that I don't find any other CAT tool that I can use instead of or alongside with Trados, it's definitely interesting to see the different approaches. If it weren't all so time-consuming!

Thanks for all the useful feedback and information!


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