Going Rogue: Translating Professionally with a Free CAT Tool (Part 3)

Going Rogue: Translating Professionally with a Free CAT Tool (Part 3)

In this final part, we’ll deal with the remaining steps of the process and, most importantly, decide whether this whole approach is viable for a professional freelance translator.

In Part 2, we outlined the process we’ll be following and covered step one (Source file preparation) of this methodology.

Let’s continue with the remaining steps and reach our verdict.

Analysis and pre-processing

In Heartsome Translation Studio’s main menu select File -> New -> Project…. The New Project Wizard will appear which will guide us in setting up our project. Follow the below steps to complete the wizard:

  • Project Information: Enter the project’s name and click “Next”
  • Language Pairs: Select “English (Unites States) en-US” as the source language, and “German (Germany) de-DE” as the target language. Click “Next”.
  • Translation Memory: Here we need to declare our working TM, but first we need to create one and then import the .tmx we converted in the previous phase.
    • Click on the “Create” button and add a name in the “Basic Information” section of the dialog (make sure the “Type” is “File-based TM”).
    • In the “Location” section, we need to declare the path of the new TM, so click on “Browse” and select the Tm folder we have from the previous phase. Click “Next”.
    • Here we can import the .tmx file we created further above. Click “Browse” and locate the .tmx file, then click on the “Open” button. Now click “Finish”, to return to the main wizard (a .hstm file has been created in the Tm folder). Click “Next”.
  • Termbase: We’ll follow a similar process with the previous step in order to import our .tbx file into a Termbase for our project.
    • Click on the “Create” button and add a name in the “Basic Information” section of the dialog (make sure the “Type” is “File-based Termbase”).
    • In the “Location” section, we need to declare the path of the new Termbase, so click on “Browse” and select the Termbases folder we have from the previous phase. Click “Next”.
    • Here we can import the .tbx file we created further above. Click “Browse” and locate the .tbx file, then click on the “Open” button. Now click “Finish”, to return to the main wizard (a .hstb file has been created in the Termbases folder). Click “Next”.
  • Add Source Files: This is the step in which we need to add the SDLXLIFFs to our project. Make sure the checkbox “Convert Source Files to XLIFFs” is ticked, and then click on the “Add” button. Locate the SDLXLIFFs in the de-DE folder, select them all (press Ctrl + A) and choose “Open”. Click on “Create”. A new dialog will appear in which you simply need to click on the “Finish” button.

In the “Project” panel, located on the left side of Heartsome Translation Studio’s user interface, you should see the project we just created. Click on the arrow on the left of the name to expand its components. The following folders and subfolders are present:

HS Project Panel

Here’s a quick rundown of what each folder/subfolder is for:

  1. Intermediate: Holds key information of the project’s internals. More specifically:
    • Report: Contains any analysis reports that have been applied to the project.
    • SKL: Contains the so-called “skeleton” files which hold information regarding the conversion of the files from/into source/target files.
  2. Source: Includes the source files we added with the New Project Wizard.
  3. Target: Will hold the fully translated source files.
  4. XLIFF: Contains the working files of our project, which are basically the source files converted to XLIFFs.

We’re now ready to analyze the files and compare our results with the analysis report provided by the client. Keep in mind that we won’t have a perfect match of numbers due to the use of different CAT Tools. But, the figures will be quite close, in which case we can safely assume our conversion process was successful, allowing us to continue with the translation of the project.

Right-click on the XLIFF folder (in the “Project” panel) and select “Analyze Files…”. This will bring up the Analyze Files wizard; click all 3 checkboxes related to the locking of segments (context matches, exact matches, internal repetitions) so we won’t have to deal with these during translation. Click “OK” and you’ll end up with a report similar to this one:

Analysis Report

I’ve placed a red rectangle around the total numbers of the report. You should compare these with the totals from the client’s analysis report and decide if they’re quite close. Here’s the report from the client (from SDL Trados Studio):

Analysis Report - Trados

Again, I’ve placed a red rectangle around the total words. The most important numbers to make sure are close enough are the “New” and “Total(s)” ones. In our case, we’re very close so we’re good to go!

Translation

We’re not going to cover the actual translation process in this article. You can check the Heartsome Translation Studio manual that comes with the application, or press F1 to read the Help file. These are the best sources for learning how to work with this CAT Tool. You’ll find out that the functionality is quite similar to other major CAT Tools, so the process won’t be that difficult to handle.

But, I can offer the following tips:

  • Leave each translated segment with a “Draft” status. This will help you during the next phase that follows.
  • Add comments to segments that need extra attention or research. You can do this by right-clicking on a segment and selecting “Add Comment…”.
  • Always pay attention to the “Termbase” panel (on the bottom right of the screen), and consult/follow its recommendations.

Proofreading and spell-checking

Here, too, we won’t be getting into details regarding this process. Simply put, you should proofread/review each segment that has a “Draft” status, and check your comments (if available). Once a segment has been properly checked, change its status to “Confirmed” by right-clicking on it and selecting “Confirm translation” (or press Ctrl + Enter).

You should always spell-check your translation, so make sure you have the right language support for this task by checking Heartsome Translation Studio’s spell-checking options. In the menu, click Tools -> Options… and in the left-side panel select the option “Spell Checking”. You can consult the manual or help file for more information.

Verification checks

This is a very important step which many translators skip, shooting themselves in the foot! The verification checks make sure that the translated files are technically correct, practically guaranteeing the safe conversion back into target files. Among other things, these checks catch issues such as:

  • Untranslated segments
  • Inconsistent numbers or date formats
  • Missing or wrongly placed tags
  • Extra leading or trailing spaces
  • Term inconsistency etc.

In Heartsome Translation Studio you can run these checks by right-clicking on the “XLIFF” folder in the “Project” panel, and selecting “QA…”. The QA wizard will appear; click on “OK”. After it completes the checks, it will output the results in the “QA Results” panel which is located on the right-side panel in the user interface. You can then go through the results, one-by-one, and double-click on any entry to get to the affected segment.

Note that sometimes, the results could contain false-positives which are not actual errors. You could safely ignore these after quickly checking a few cases.

Delivery to the client

If you remember, the client’s delivery requirement stated the return of an SDL Trados Studio Return Package (.sdlrpx). Since Heartsome Translation Studio doesn’t support any SDL Trados Studio Project packages (.sdlppx), you won’t be surprised to learn that neither does it support creating Return packages; you need the first to create the latter.

So, the best alternative solution we have is to prepare a set of files the client can use to update their project with our translations. This set will contain the following files:

  • Translated SDLXLIFFs
  • A Translation Memory export in TMX format
  • A Terminology Database export in TBX format

I always like to keep things neat and tidy, so we’ll create a suitable folder structure to hold the above files. Using File Explorer, go in our project’s folder then locate and enter the 3-To_Client folder. In here, create the following 3 folders: Bilingual_Files, Termbase_Export, and TM_Export. You should end up with a folder structure like the following:

\---3-To_Client
    +---Bilingual_Files
    +---Termbase_Export
    +---TM_Export

In Heartsome Translation Studio, go to the Project panel, expand the Target folder and right-click on the de-DE subfolder. Select “Copy” from the contextual menu. Switch to File Explorer, go to our project’s folder and specifically in 3-To_Client -> Bilingual_Files. Paste here the target files we’ve copied above (i.e., press Ctrl + V).

To create our Termbase export, in Heartsome Translation Studio select the menu option Databases -> Export TBX…. Then click on “Add” and select “File-based Termbase…”. In the Open dialog, locate the .hstb Termbase we created further above in the Analysis and pre-processing phase (you should find it in the Termbases folder), and click “Open”. Click on the “Browse” button which is located on the right of the “Save to” field and navigate to the project’s folder path 3-To_Client -> Termbase_Export. Enter a suitable name and click on the “Save” button. Afterwards, click on “Export”. A .tbx file with the name you entered will be created.

For the TM export, we’ll follow a very similar process to the Termbase export. In Heartsome Translation Studio, select the menu option Databases -> Export TMX…. Then click on “Add” and select “File-based TM…”. In the Open dialog, locate the .hstm TM we created further above in the Analysis and pre-processing phase (you should find it in the Tm folder), and click “Open”. Click on the dropdown box next to the field “Source Language” and select the option “en-US”. Click on the “Browse” button which is located on the right of the “Save to” field and navigate to the project’s folder path 3-To_Client -> TM_Export. Enter a suitable name and click on the “Save” button. Afterwards, click on “Export”. A .tmx file with the name you entered will be created.

For the final touch, we need to zip all this before sending to the client. In File Explorer move up to the top level of our project’s folder, right-click on 3-To_Client and select “Send to” -> “Compressed (zipped) folder”. A .zip file will appear in the project folder, and this is the file you should send to the client.

The Verdict

So, can a professional freelance translator do the job using only free tools? Before we answer that, let’s see whether the process we used covered all 5 objectives we had put forth in Part 1.

Objective Covered?
1 It must be free Yes
2 It must be able to run on all three major Operating Systems Yes
3 It must accept directly, or with minimum tinkering, bilingual files from major proprietary CAT Tools Yes
4 The translation process must be as seamless as using a proprietary tool, or close enough Yes
5 The resulting translated bilingual files must be identical to the ones a proprietary tool would produce and adhere to the client’s delivery specifications Yes*

That last objective (no. 5) has an asterisk for a good reason: although the bilingual files delivered to the client are identical to the original ones (in terms of format, type and structure), the client’s delivery specifications couldn’t be met completely (we couldn’t deliver a Trados Studio Return Package). But, keep in mind that the delivered files can be used by the client successfully, and with minimal fuss on their side.

Returning to our pressing question, I’d say yes, a professional freelance translator could do the job using only free tools. Granted, the procedures we outlined in these articles are not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re a freelancer then you’re a bit of a tinkerer as well — it goes with the territory.

Petro Dudi avatar
About Petro Dudi
Petro Dudi is an American expat residing the last two decades in Athens, Greece. His professional career revolves around the Translation & Localization Industry for more than 17 years, having translated or project managed numerous projects for tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM/Lotus, Adobe, Symantec, GE Energy, Caterpillar, Toshiba, LaCie, Canon, Sony, Nokia, Bosch, Siemens etc. Petro is also the author of "Translation 101: Starting Out As A Translator", and the creator of the "Translation101 Toolkit" software.
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