Whatever your opinion of Trados Studio–read about my own change of heart about it here–I think we can all agree that it takes a while to learn to use. In the words of an SDL staffer, just as professionals in other industries don’t expect to learn Photoshop, Quark Xpress or InDesign in an hour, translators need to invest some time in learning to use Trados Studio.
Enter one issue: Studio comes with extensive help files and even its own YouTube channel (111 videos and counting!), but it doesn’t come with a manual. Enter one solution: Swedish translator Mats Linder has written a comprehensive manual for Studio (2009 and 2011 versions) which you can purchase for US $45 from Mats’ own website or from the SDL OpenExchange App website. If you own Trados Studio, you need this manual…yesterday! Even if you’re fairly tech-savvy and have used TM tools before–and I’d include myself in both of those categories–you probably felt as if your head were going to explode when you looked at the Studio interface for the first time. Then, you probably either battled with learning the program on your own, or, as I did, hired a trainer to help you learn to use it. Regardless of your Studio learning level, let me give you an overview of this manual and why you need it.
At 324 pages, it’s hard to imagine an important Studio feature that this book doesn’t cover. Downside: if you prefer reading on paper, the manual is available as a PDF only and it would be cumbersome (although possible) to print. But it is exhaustively comprehensive, covering even the most recent Service Pack–SP2, released in September, 2012. Mats has included numerous screen shots that are marked up to show exactly the menu item that you’re looking for; this also minimizes or eliminates the need to have the program open while you’re reading the manual. And before you start, be aware that the manual does not cover installation or licensing issues, and that you need at least a basic knowledge of CAT tools (i.e. what is segmentation, what is a TM) before you get going.
Longtime Trados users will appreciate Mats’ thorough coverage of the differences between “old” Trados (2007 and before) and Trados Studio. He also details the changes from Studio 2009 to Studio 2011, including SP2. There’s also a very helpful chapter on where to get help with Studio–blogs, websites, etc.
Mats kicks things off with the basics of Studio: how to get going without learning sophisticated functions that you may not need right away. Even more helpfully, he defines the key concepts associated with Studio, which may trip up a lot of beginning users; i.e what is a project? what is a package? He is also very honest about Studio’s drawbacks and limitations, for example by telling you that there are a number of problems with the Preview function and it may be better to find a way to work around it, or that there is only one stage in the project prep process where you can merge files. One advantage of the PDF format is the numerous active links to external references such as SDL Client Communities manager Paul Filkin’s blog. Another helpful addition is some information about workarounds: for example how to open a Studio package without using Studio (change the file extension to .zip).
Once you’ve mastered the basics, Mats moves on to Studio’s more advanced features such as AutoSuggest, a new capability whereby Studio automatically suggests a word completion once you type the first few letters. And here’s something that only an independent author can slip in: a list of features that Studio is lacking, such as auto-insertion of target text terms and expressions. Mats also helpfully suggests Open Exchange applications (many of them free) that can fill these gaps. Additional “power user” content includes a thorough rundown of the file formats that Studio can handle, and a comprehensive table of how to migrate non-Studio translation memories into Studio.
In sum, I loved this book, and I fervently hope that Mats considers writing a manual for SDL MultiTerm in the near future. Not only is the manual incredibly comprehensive, but Mats writes in a very clear, easy-to-understand style that should help almost every user learn or master Studio. My only suggestion for improvement is that I think SDL should either include this manual with the software, or at least provide a more visible way to purchase it–for example by offering it as an add-on when one purchases the software–instead of burying it in their app store. Congratulations and thanks to Mats Linder for such a valuable resource!