dealing with file types sdl trados studio

4 Top Tips on Dealing With New or Complex File Types for Translation

Having worked as a Business Consultant at SDL for over 10 years, I’ve worked closely with many different translation agencies and companies with translation requirements. In this time, one of the most common challenges Project Managers have told me they face is file handling. So drawing on my experience, here are my top tips to help you save time and simplify dealing with new or complex file types.

1. Strong communication at the start


At the very beginning of a new project when you come across a new file type, you should spend some time with your internal or external client to discuss it. This is the opportunity for you to gain as much information as you can about how best to process the content, the journey of the content and to learn more about how best to support the native format. The more information you have, the easier it is to accept the project, scope the effort and to get the file settings correct from the beginning.

Recently, I worked with a translation agency that had received a 200 page PDF file, and they were asked to hide a list of 20 names that appeared throughout the 200 pages. This became a painful manual process, but maybe it could have been avoided if there had been more of a discussion around the original file format, which in this case was XML. With this knowledge at the start, the SDL Trados Studio settings could have been adjusted to automatically hide the 20 names. The translation process then becomes a lot easier, for everyone, not just the Project Manager. Faster turnaround times equals happier clients and translators.

2. It’s all in the preparation

Once you have the information needed from your client, the next step is to prepare the files. Doing this correctly makes all the difference. How many times have you created a project and then opened it up in the editor view of Studio, only to see it was not formatted as you had expected? Or perhaps had a translator tell you the same thing when they open it? If this is the case, then you’re wasting precious time re-doing the project, especially if you’ve already sent it out.

With the release of SDL Trados Studio 2017, we introduced the File Type Preview feature which does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows you to preview what the file will look like in the editor view of Studio 2017 before having to create the project. Just go to ‘Options’ and then ‘File Types’, and you will see ‘Preview file’ at the bottom of all the file type settings. This in itself will save you a lot of time when testing and preparing a new file type and allows for you to safely explore how different file type settings effect content being processed.

3. Know which file types you can work with

Another question I’m often asked is how to find out which files types are, by default, already compatible with Studio. The easiest way to find out is to open Studio and go to File> Options, where you can find the file types list. If the file type you want to start translating with isn’t found here, don’t worry. You can find more niche file types by checking out the collection of additional file filters on the SDL AppStore.

If you can’t find it there either, don’t panic! A fast and easy way to check if a file can be translated in Studio is to see if it can be opened in simple Notepad. Subsequently, if you can see the text that you need to translate and it is readable, then that is usually a good indicator that you can create a custom file type within SDL Trados Studio to support your unique native file. You can do this by clicking the ‘new’ button in the file type options.

4. Use project templates

If you aren’t already using project templates, then this could be a big time saver for you. All the settings you select when creating a new project, including the specific file type settings, can be stored into a template for later re-use. This offers time-saving and consistency when creating projects. Even better is if you share them centrally, meaning anyone can use the same project settings that worked well previously. And now it’s even better with the new SDL Trados GroupShare 2017 online project creation capability. Here your project templates can easily be accessed by any GroupShare 2017 user with the appropriate rights.

If you need help with a specific file challenge, you can visit the SDL Community where SDL staff and fellow active users are on hand to provide support.

For more useful tips to help you when facing common project management challenges, visit our webpage here.