Some answers are unexpected. Unexpected is commonly seen as a negative notion. But unexpected teaches us the most – if you have the power to listen and learn.
This will be a somewhat longer post – because I would like to introduce you to something we are very excited about. It is a new concept we have been working on since May 2016 and something that seems to work well, making your work even more comfortable in the most comprehensive CAT tool in the market, memoQ.
Before I introduce you to the concept, I would like to revisit some exciting findings of a great memoQfest that was held in Budapest back in May 2016. There we asked the gathering what they think: is complexity killing the experience? Should CAT tools move in the direction of more simplicity?
The answers were truly stimulating as we did not really expect what we were about to hear: the issue with you guys is not complexity at all. The fact that you can tackle such a wide range of problems with memoQ seems more of an asset, and you actually love the kind of comprehensiveness memoQ represents. You seem not to be touched so much by the one-page single and shiny solutions we expected you to be, based on some recent industry papers. This is great news because it proves we have great users: real professionals who value the large scope memoQ provides. But the question remains: what are the main problems? By talking to you, we soon realized: the issue was distraction.
Distraction kills the CAT
CAT market actors, in recent years, have started to operate much like any other major software business. All significant companies started to create noise around their new major releases that would come from time to time – some annually, some bi-annually, releasing hyped-up new software packs. This seems to happen despite the fact that our market values one thing greatly: continuity and reliability across services provided.
New releases in general have grown more and more exciting and, at the same time, even more distractive for many. The hyped-up annual bundles came packed with new features and functionalities, sometimes requiring significant extra effort in terms of installation, process readjustments, versioning and compatibility, training and costs. Let’s face it: the one-big-bang releases of leading producers have been increasingly serving marketing purposes, and CAT tool providers lost sight of the user a little bit.
After we collected your responses at memoQfest we started thinking: could we do this entire thing differently? Could we provide valuable new features and functionalities without straining our customers? (Let’s just underline: new features and functionalities are still important for your productivity, and you do love them.) Would tuning down the hype prove valuable for both of us?
So here is what we did: we handed out a huge pile of new functions and features in smaller chunks spread over a longer period and we started measuring how you, our clients react to the change. We created smaller builds throughout the year and we distributed features and functionalities evenly. We made sure that you can get information about the individual goods and that those new developments are communicated better. And what is more important: we made sure that you have less disruption – we did not release a product version that would represent compatibility conflicts since the 2015 release.
The result was fewer complaints, better informed users, and for us, a chance to communicate what we can do more effectively. It seems that everybody is happy.
The past year with memoQ
Let’s just revisit for a second how memoQ was improved in the past year. It would be a stretch to list all the features and improvements we introduced, but let us just concentrate on some of the more significant ones for now.
Reporting. We introduced automatic error reporting. This is a great step for all of us – if the user consents, memoQ is now collecting data about errors and crashes giving us a chance to improve user experience further.
We have enhanced project setup and checkout (which is anyway the easiest and most ergonomic in the market) by introducing automated export from online projects. Now you can archive the original, the translated, reviewed etc. versions fully automatically, without as much as a keystroke. We introduced an enhanced spell checker providing you with a dramatically faster tool, now handling things perfectly in WebTrans as well.
Mentioning WebTrans, those of you working with it will be happy to learn that right-to-left for WebTrans is now also available: memoQ server’s WebTrans editor now just begs you to work on it in Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi.
It was also a significant step to provide an option for Machine Translation integration: now you have a choice to use MT results from a large number of MTs from inside memoQ – up to date you can use results from AltLang, Asia Online, Crosslang, Google MT, Iconic Translation Machines, iTranslate4.eu, KantanMT.com, Tilde MT, Microsoft Bing MT, PangeaMT, Slate Desktop, Systran – and more to come! What is more: you can now plug in your own MT engines via the SDK. Moreover, all MT plugins are available on server as well. While we know that Machine Translation is still a controversial subject to many, we found that users who had some experience with MT are happier to exploit the opportunities it provides – especially true this is with LSPs who are often bugged by clients to employ the emerging technology in their projects.
Terminology. We also opened up memoQ to third-party terminology solution providers. The new Termbase SDK makes it possible for developers to produce terminology plugins in memoQ to leverage external terminology sources in the translation workflow. You can now expect more providers popping up in the memoQ environment next to TaaS and EuroTermBank – such as TermWeb by Interverbum.
Quality. We made the integrated QA module so much more powerful through a fully customizable regex checker, improved number verification, spaces around tags, punctuation, non-translatables, forbidden terms (no matter whether it is in source or target!), and more. And now you can export a sleek QA report in HTML that groups problems by categories and presents inconsistent translations concisely and clearly – and send this automatically to your vendor manager or translators or anybody else, if you want to.
Ergonomics. To help you estimate the work involved for the first glance, we introduced weighted word counts. Translating 100 thousand words from scratch is not the same thing as translating only a fraction of it because there are lots of TM matches. Until now, you could only find out which is the case if you looked at the analysis results. But now you can view weighted word counts directly in the list of documents and in the status bar, so you have an immediate idea how much work each document will take.
The introduction of search and replace in tags, also with regular expressions, is also a result of 2016. Searching for text is old hat, but now you can do the same for inline tags – and even use regex to match arbitrary patterns inside those tags.
For software localization experts, especially for our friends in the games industry where the request came from, the pixel-length check was also a welcome feature: we introduced a new QA check to verify the maximum length/width of a translation in pixels or points. With this function you will only get back authorized-length translation segments that will definitely fit in the available sections of any unique GUI.
Interoperability. This has always been a central topic for the memoQ development team. One of the breaking-news moments of the spring was the introduction of the Trados Studio plugin. It is crazy, I know: we are serving Trados users with this feature: we allow them to connect to translation memories and term bases shared by others on memoQ servers and on Language Terminal. It has its yields though: it makes it easier for you to work together with those unfortunate colleagues who have no chance working with the most developed translation environment of modern times memoQ.
Performance – also a top priority in 2016. We speeded up the import of really large amounts of segments – this means when you have literally thousands of segments to import – according to our testers this enhancement resulted in import speeds up to 70 times faster. We did not stop here: we introduced performance improvements for document history management and project checkout, now you can open a copy of a checked out project, but we improved subvendor assignment, embedded translation matches, XML filter, exporting bilingual files.
If you are interested in precisely what happened in the past one year, you might want to take a minute and check these articles we published during the year:
In short: less distraction. Based on the experiences of the past year we have created a new system of product development to address this issue. We like to call it memoQ Responsive Evolution.
Evolution is an interesting concept: less dramatic on the short run but extremely effective on the long run. It takes into consideration all the environmental factors and makes adjustments according to the needs of the many while carefully selecting the best features in the given context.
Responsiveness. Our development, from the very beginning, was centered around the user – let them be individual translators or companies and organizations. The point has always been to provide what was required. memoQ has a history of addressing these demands – as it was created by the very people who needed such tools: translators.
The most important thing you will notice about memoQ Responsive Evolution is the lack of the “one-big-bang”-types of new releases. Instead of providing one huge bundle packed with features we will provide these gradually. This approach will help you with compatibility and will result in a better user experience: we will minimize the number of distractive releases that would require a new product version to be installed.
You will receive carefully branded, small packages of features throughout the year, accompanied by concise, to-the-point user information for each enhancement and functionality. We will notify you in advance about the release times of these new packages.
This way you will be able to enjoy the steady stream of newer and newer features longer, you will need to upgrade to higher versions less often. Apart from the apparent benefits of the fiscal kind, we believe we will be able to concentrate more on introducing you to the individual features we bring out. You will have an easier time to pick up on the advancements as we will not overload you with a gigantic list of new things. We will continue to listen and learn what you think about memoQ – and will proceed based on your feedback. Development therefore will be even more responsive.
Obviously, we cannot promise that we will never come out with disruptive versions from now on. We will release a new major version sometime in February 2017. Technological development, advancements in computing, new results in our research will require us to change major product versions to enable us to carry on providing you with the best technology the market has to offer – but we can promise to minimize the number of major versions in the future. You will have less peculiarities to adjust to and more time for your work. We will eliminate the friction caused by incompatibility and concentrate more on features that support your demands through one product version.
In brief: you have talked to us and we listened – and learnt. We are grateful for your input. We can promise that we carry on listening and continue to provide you with the best service you can get. We are always ready to change and to make choices that are less comfortable for us – if it is the right choice for our users. Because even though it sounds sleazy, nevertheless it is true: the key to memoQ’s success is its user focus.
For the theme of this post I selected this very-much-alive cougar from Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain) – not only because it is a cat, but also because it is just as alive at night as your standard translator...
memoQ is among the world's leading translation management systems. The favorite computer-assisted translation tool of many translators around the globe.