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Tools for Quality Assurance and Translation Memory Maintenance

November 7th, 2012 | by LTD

Session LT-2 at ATA 2012
Presenter: Tuomas Kostiainen
Reviewed by: Katalin Varga

There were memorable milestones in translation technology over the past decades. The development of new tools and techniques is happening at an amazing speed, you really have to be watchful to keep up with the progress. Even though there are plenty of tools we can be grateful for, I still believe QA tools have gained a very good position in this race.

I clearly remember when many years ago I struggled with hundreds of translated TTX files, done by several translators, having enormous volume of technical data in them. Time was running so fast and my firm commitment as a project manager to check and fix everything seemed to lack any reality. I was eager to find a solution that could help me as I clearly felt that checking such volume from certain aspects truly exceeds the limit of what a human eye can check. That was the point when I met QA Distiller first. I felt as if I was in an amusement park with a daily pass and I could try out all the rides. And of course, later on I met many other members of the QA family.

When I planned my schedule at ATA 2012 I was absolutely certain that this presentation cannot be missed as I was really curious how Tuomas would summarize the current status of QA tools.

He gave an exciting presentation and it was useful for all who already use QA tools but this clear overview also raised the interests of those attendees who are not familiar with them yet.

In general, most QA tools have the following main features in common:

  • they can be used for bilingual files or in translation environments (Studio, memoQ) only
  • they can detect errors such as punctuation, spelling, numbering, segmentation, formatting issues etc.
  • they can check the text for inconsistency (even for reverse inconsistency)
  • they can generate a report file on their findings

In the new generation of CAT tools, QA function forms an integrated part of the translation environment:

  • In SDL Trados Studio 2011, you can specify settings for QA checker and for Terminology verifier as well. In addition to Tag Verification, you have the XML validation feature so you can ensure that the structure and content of the XML document matches the specifications given.
  • memoQ 5.0 has a quite comprehensive QA configuration pane. In addition, you can QA check your segments as you translate or at the end of your translation. MemoQ can be proud for being able to QA check translation memories as well.
  • QA tool in Wordfast 3 Pro is called Transcheck, which enables you to check forbidden characters, partial punctuations, terminology and untranslatables.
  • The good old SDL Trados 2007 has QA function available only in TagEditor.

Tuomas also listed several external QA tools that can be useful for LSPs and freelancers as well. As they are not part of the translation environment, you can save time if your preferred external QA tool has an internal editor as well.

  • ErrorSpy: You can check different file formats (TMX, XLIFF, TTX) and it includes internal editor.
  • QA Distiller: TMX and XLIFF files are opened in an internal editor, in case of TTX you jump to the location of the error in the TTX file.
  • Verifika: this is a newcomer application with an easy-to-use display. It includes an internal editor.
  • ApSic XBench: the only free version among all tools listed here and has no internal editor. However, it can be linked to external editors. Many freelancers use this one.
  • Okapi CheckMate: open-source tool, you can use it for any bilingual or multilingual file format supported by the Okapi filters.

In addition to checking your translation, one of your main assets, your translation memory should also be maintained. Here are some recommendations from Tuomas how you can do this:

  • There are some built-in functions in CAT tools for editing and filtering TUs.
  • You can export the whole content of your TM and use text editors, such as UltraEdit, for quick replacements.

Not many freelancers or LSPs use regular expressions for fine tuning search & replace functions. Toumas called the attention that we can now use them even in QA functions as well. It is no longer a mystery; we have to give it a try.


Someone from the audience asked Tuomas which of the presented tools he would recommend. Having gained an insight into the current QA concept, it is clear now that there is no one single way to do it. There is no best tool. You have to consider your needs, how much you would invest into it and whether an external or an integrated tool would serve your goals the best.

I am curious to see what comes next, how we can improve translations further with new QA tools and methods.

Katalin Varga has been in the translation industry for 15 years, currently she is the managing director of Afford Translations, Hungary. Afford is specialized in translation and localization from English into CEE languages. Her team is an enthusiastic follower of new translation tools and techniques. She can be contacted at katalin.varga@afford.hu.

One Response to “Tools for Quality Assurance and Translation Memory Maintenance”

  1. John Di Rico Says:

    Thanks for the write-up Katalin, very useful!

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