In Studio 2011 there are basically two options for translating a file: “Open Document” or “New Project”. You can select them by clicking the icons on the Home page, from the File tab or from the standard toolbar. But which is the best option?
This is the easy way to go if you’re new to Studio. You can let Studio use the default settings (which you can fine-tune under Tools>Options) and you’ll be taken straight to the Editor window. When you save the bilingual file (.SDLXLIFF) with Ctrl+S and the translated file with Shift+F12, by default you’ll be taken to the folder where your source file is located.
But what happens when you’ve got several Translation Memories (TMs), clients who have designated Termbases (TBs) or special field values for certain domains? You can set up all these options by clicking on the Advanced button in the Open Document wizard, but this is quite time consuming. Another drawback of the Open Document method is that you miss out on pre-translating your file against an existing TM. Also, there’s no analysis to see how many matches you’re going to get. You can run these tasks later on, but it takes longer.
Finally, don’t use Open Document to re-open a file that you’ve already been working on. Instead, double click the project name in the project view.
Once you’re familiar with the Open Document workflow, you’ll discover that the easy way to go is not always the best or quickest solution.
I recommend using the New Project workflow, even for single files. When you set up a new project, you assign all the above options as you follow the wizard. It’s quite slow the first time you do it but if you base subsequent projects on existing ones (which is the first option in the wizard), you’ll soon find that the process gets very slick. You can also merge a group of files when you set up a new project, which gives you great leverage from auto-propagation and ensures consistency across the files.
Another advantage of projects is that you can keep client-specific projects running and simply add new files to them (go to the project source language file list and click Add Files). That saves time because you don’t have to assign TMs or TBs, and all other settings have already been defined. Unfortunately you can’t “add & merge” new files to an existing project. I think this would be a useful feature to see in future versions.
In short, I like the project workflow because I have more control of the translation process. I can decide where to save my files and I can keep source and target files in separate folders, so there’s no danger of overwriting the original file. I have immediate access to analysis results and other batch tasks. By adding a file to an existing project I can be up and translating in just 9 clicks. Yes, I counted!
Please add a comment below if you’re a fan of the Open Document workflow, or if there are any more advantages or disadvantages for either option that you’d like to add.