Playing in Smartling’s Sandbox

I’ve been using Smartling now for a couple of years for a client whose website is updated almost daily. From the beginning, I thought it was one of the best cloud-based platforms available for website, document, and mobile app localization. So, I was very happy to be invited to a play date in the sandbox of the new version of their CAT tool and to take a peek under the hood – and, in the process, I received my Smartling certification).

 

The gradual roll-out of the new Smartling CAT tool started already in March. Here are some of the new features introduced until now.

  • Multiple Strings Displayed – This is a basic feature that has been already available in other CAT tools and now it’s been introduced in Smartling. Translators can see multiple strings at the same time and navigate across them. They can work on more strings simultaneously as opposed to having to work on one string at the time.

 

  • More Keyboard Shortcuts – Every action you can take in the new Smartling editor has a keyboard shortcut associated with it. You can see which shortcuts are available simply by hovering your mouse over every command displayed on the screen.  Shortcuts are also completely customizable with much more ease and detail: You just type into the shortcut field the new command and click Save Change. Another neat functionality: If you have built muscle memory on other CAT tools (in my case, memoQ and SDL Studio), you can choose other default shortcut profiles to use in Smartling.

 

 

  • More Flexible Tag Handling – Translations are no longer split across tags in “snippet mode” like in the previous version. Tags can now be moved around and, if necessary, even deleted. There are also two views to choose: a simple view and a code view, for those who want to know what’s behind each tag.  To enter a tag in a string, you can a) simply click on it in the source segment; b) use a specific shortcut;  c) use the autocomplete suggestion. Finally, if you are working on a document that is a minefield of tags, you can use the “copy tags to target” option and translate around the tags. Tags are always entered or deleted in pairs, so there is no way that you can mess up your document.
  • Translation Memory  – The concordance search within a TM has received a boost: It’s possible now not only to search within a TM in your own language but also across all the other languages available within the project. Each TM match comes with extra information, like the source, the entry date, the step in the workflow (translation or edit step for example; so, a published TM match will weigh more than a TM match at the translated stage). To see this detailed info, you simply hover your mouse over the “i” icon. Translators are often unaware of the existence (and the importance) of this kind of metadata. Maybe in the future, this functionality could be improved so that we can see at a glance whether a TM string has already been published, because, let’s face it,  translators don’t always have the time (nor the inclination) to click and check.
  • Spotlight on the Style Guide – When you log into a project for the first time – or even after some time –  the style guide screen is immediately displayed by default.  Some might find it annoying, others will see it as a useful reminder.

  • “Draft Mode” for Translations – This is an invisible but extremely useful feature. If you accidentally close or refresh your browser – or if you suddenly lose the internet connection – don’t panic. In the new version of the Smartling CAT tool, each segment is automatically backed up in the cloud as you type.
  • Translation Quality Checks – There are now 7 quality checks available (you can see the list in the image underneath), and – from what I’ve heard – many more checks will be implemented soon. Project managers can associate a specific severity level to each check; so, for example, in the case of a spelling error, you might not want to have the segment containing a spelling mistake submitted to the next step in the workflow, etc.  Maybe in the future, these checks could be combined with the predictive quality features available to PMs to reach a higher level of automation in quality assessment. This feature, in turn, could help with translators’ ranking.

 

I’ll keep working with the Smartling platform and will report on future developments. In the meantime, for more info, you can take a look at Smartling’s website.