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Multilingual Excel goes agile in memoQ

Gábor Ugray
Gábor Ugray - 15/09/2017

4 minute read

multilingual excel

You can talk to me about shiny file formats for localization until the cows come home, the truth is that simple things that just work have an unbeatable staying power. Excel files have place of pride among these stubborn, simple things.
Because in our hearts we are true localization nerds, we initially had to swallow hard to acknowledge this reality, but acknowledge it we did. You can still read the post announcing memoQ’s pioneering Multilingual Excel filter from 2013. To recap: companies that deal with lots of translatable strings are often keen on stockpiling them in Excel sheets. The idea is simple. Everyone has Excel, so you just put the source text in one column, send the file to your trusty LSP, then get it back full of translations, one column per language.

But inevitably, things start to spiral out of control. At first you may have 2000 strings and 3 target languages. Then the product becomes wildly successful, and suddenly you’re looking at 20 thousand strings going into 25 languages. You also realize it helps to send some context information along in a few extra columns. Your product diversifies into many editions, and for each you only need some of the strings, so you start coloring cells, hiding rows, or putting IGNORE-ME labels in yet another column. Your programmers have long automated their part, and the Excel sheets are being generated by a script, with no human in sight.

Good luck telling this client that they should be sending XLIFF files instead.

This is where memoQ’s Multilingual Excel filter comes into the picture. It’s been busy dealing with the kinds of things above, and a few more on top, for over four years.

Agile is the marriage of reimporting and X-translate

But now the client has heard the call of the times and went to an agile workflow. Which means, in practice, that they no longer send one big batch before the game’s release. Instead, they send a new Excel file with the latest changes every single night, and you need to deliver what you’ve translated on a similar schedule.

You, my seasoned reader, will now ask: Isn’t that precisely what pre-translation and context matches are for?

Yes, but no. As an LSP you may need to deliver your work “as is” on a daily basis, but there’s still an overarching process of research, QA, review and revisions. These come with a lot of interim information in the form of segment statuses, QA warnings and comments that are all lost when you pre-translate from scratch.

In the Wild West of continuous, agile localization, reimporting is memoQ’s Bonnie to the Clyde that is X-translate. Whenever you receive an updated source file, you can reimport the document that’s already sitting in your project, and X-translate it to restore exactly what you had before, with segment statuses, suppressed QA warnings, comments and all.

Except for this one gotcha… memoQ’s multilingual filters did not initially support reimporting. Until the new memoQ 8.2, that is. It had to do with arcane reasons involving complicated words that only developers understand. The important bit is, we are now opening this treasure chest for all of you agile multilingual localizers out there.

XML and automation

With memoQ 8.2 you can now re-import multilingual Excel files and X-translate them to enable an agile localization workflow. But the buck doesn’t stop there: we also upgraded memoQ’s other popular multilingual filter, Multilingual XML, to support the same thing.

And if you’re dedicated to automation yourself, the neat reimport-then-X-translate trick also works with the Content Connector module (aka hot folder watcher). It even works over memoQ server’s API. You can create workflows that are fully automated from the moment your client’s copywriter checks in a new user interface string all the way to the time your translators and reviewers launch memoQ, or log in to the web-based translation editor.

But… I cannot find it in memoQ!

I was afraid you were going say that. You need to look for the Multilingual delimited text filter after you click Import With Options and open the Document import settings window:

Document Import setting
Why did we give such a cryptic name to something so obvious as an Excel filter? It has to do with CSV and text files, which the filter also supports. But mostly, we were young. We sinned. And now we repent. Next question, please.

Want to know more?

Here are a few handy links where you can find more information about memoQ’s Multilingual Excel filter:

Gábor Ugray

Gábor Ugray

Head of Innovation at memoQ

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