Trados 2022 – our thoughts

Our recent blog post Trados Cloud: Importing Outsourced Translations gave an overview of how Web-Translations works with Trados Studio’s cloud platform, and detailed our preferred workflow when outsourcing translations.

In this post, we’ll discuss Trados Studio 2022, sharing our experience of both the cloud-based solution and the desktop software. We hope freelance translators and small translation teams find our insights useful.

So, what’s new in Trados Studio 2022?

In terms of upgrades to the 2022 desktop version, there are some new file types, improved synchronisation between the cloud and the desktop software, and various other smaller updates. Nothing especially innovative, but rather a few tweaks here and there.

While Studio 2022 was initially somewhat buggy (especially concerning plugins), the staff at RWS worked hard to sort out the issues and it’s running smoothly for us now.

Cloud capabilities of Trados Studio 2022

A review of Trados 2022 wouldn’t be complete without commenting on the cloud platform, despite the fact that the platform is not unique to Trados 2022.

Trados Studio’s cloud capabilities became available to single-user licenses with the 2021 version of Trados Studio. While it wasn’t highly publicised at the time, RWS seems to be promoting it much more now.

The cloud platform is the same regardless of the user’s Studio version. It does differ slightly between the single-user Trados Studio version and the Trados Team version, but there is no difference in the cloud platform between those with Studio 2021 and Studio 2022 licenses.

The ‘cloud’ version of Trados is online software accessed via an internet browser, using a RWS login.

What key functionalities are missing from the cloud platform?

  • Perfect matches  X

If you have two versions of a document, you can use batch tasks to compare the versions and indicate ‘perfect matches’ between the files.

  • Locking repetitions   X

This is really important for LSPs. For certain types of content, it’s useful to lock repetitions, and then auto-populate segments based on the translation of the first occurrence.

  • Alignment   X

Aligning files is an awful task, but sometimes it has to be done. And it has to be done with the desktop version.

  • Bilingual review file  X

If your client wants to review the translation in a Word document, it’s a good idea to send a bilingual review file. You can then import the edited version and it will update your xliff. Alternatively, if you want to collaborate with a linguist who doesn’t use Trados, you can send them a bilingual review file to work on.

(TOP TIP: copy the source to target before sending for translation, which inserts the correct tags into the target column)

  • File-based TMs/Termbase synchronisation  X

With the cloud version, TMs are stored online. However, this means that your offline TMs are not updated. If you want to keep them updated, you’ll need to download a TM export and update your offline TMs.

  • Desktop-originated project synchronisation   X

If you start a project on the desktop version, and then want to switch to cloud version, it doesn’t work. You’re stuck with the desktop version. However, if you start a project in the cloud, you can sync your desktop version with it, so you have the option of working either online or offline.

  • Very few plugins   X

We had hoped RWS would add some of the plugin functionality to Trados Studio 2022’s built-in functionality, and perhaps RWS will in future as it moves towards increased usage of its cloud platform, however we still rely on plugins for most projects.

Our favourites are Record Source TU and Studio Subtitling – neither of which are available for the cloud.

While you can’t use the same plugins with the cloud as you would with desktop-based Trados, there are 9 ‘add-ons’ available in the RWS AppStore. To find these, filter ‘Product’ for ‘Language Cloud’. The add-ons all relate to machine translation or are connectors for customer portals. In comparison, there are 178 plugins for the desktop software.

What are some positives of the cloud platform?

  • Work anywhere you’ve got an internet connection, on any device  ✔

The cloud is handy for those who want to switch between devices. For example, if you set up a project as a cloud-based project, you can access the file from any machine that has internet access, whether this is a tablet, mobile, laptop or PC.

Perhaps you want to use your smartphone to translate a small file, add terms to a termbase or check something in a file – all of these tasks could be handled with the Trados Studio cloud platform.

  • TMs, termbases stored online ✔

Storing TMs online makes it easy to keep TMs updated when there are multiple users. At Web-Translations, we keep our TMs on a shared server so there is no advantage here for us, but it could be useful for you as a freelancer if you have limited storage space on your PC or laptop. Cloud storage is also less likely to result in a data loss; if your laptop bites the dust, you will lose any resources that aren’t backed up elsewhere.

  • Cloud processing power ✔

With file-based projects, Trados Studio relies on your PC or laptop’s processing power. If you’re setting up a particularly juicy Excel file with 1000s of product descriptions, Studio is locked until pre-processing has finished.

  • Project management features ✔

You have the ability to assign tasks and an inbox to keep track of your own assignments.  The inbox has a Kanban task view which allows you to see the progress of all tasks/files. Adding custom fields to your project template or project is also easy.

Trados Team

While we at Web-Translations don’t use Trados Team, it is very similar to the cloud environment included with the single-user license of Trados Studio. The interface is virtually the same, with the additional benefit of allowing multiple users who share resources and projects.

The main advantage of Team, in comparison to the single-user license, is that multiple logins are available, allowing everyone on a team to work simultaneously. It is a project management tool which allows team members to assign work and keep track of tasks. Other key advantages not available on the single user cloud platform are:

  • Expands pool of potential freelance translators

Team allows LSPs to email freelance translators a link which in turn allows them to open up the cloud editor and translate a file – all without the person needing Studio software or a license. While larger agencies may purchase multi-user license agreements to share licenses with freelancers, smaller agencies tend to require their linguists be able to work with a certain type of file. The downside of Team’s email feature is that the linguist may not know how to use the software, meaning they don’t take full advantage of the resources available to them. And it will certainly take them longer than if they were using software they were familiar with…

  • Easier client review

This same functionality can also serve as a review feature, whereby the link could be emailed to a client or a client’s external reviewer to edit the file directly in the Trados Studio cloud platform. Again, it might be a bit more time-consuming than working with software they are familiar with (such as the Bilingual Review File which can be edited in Word), but Bilingual Review Files are notoriously fragile, which counterbalances the familiarity advantage.

SaaS exclusively?

Is RWS moving towards SaaS exclusively? Does it have plans to do away with desktop software that is bought and installed on individual computers?

Development and maintenance costs on their end would certainly be lower if they axed the desktop version. And while a subscription-based service does help the user’s finance team to manage and forecast costs, if the cloud platform doesn’t have the same functionality as the desktop version, Trados can’t realistically be exclusively SaaS.

Our prediction is that RWS will continue to develop Trados Studio’s cloud capabilities, so we may find that over the next five years we come to see the ‘offline’ version as the added bonus, itself with limited capabilities, and the ‘online’ version as the primary software with the most functionality.

In the recent RWS webinar ‘Translation Technology Insights 2023’, Marketing Director Andrew Thomas said customer survey data shows that “the shift to cloud has already come. We all know that’s the right way to move forward, but not to the exclusion of on-premise solutions that integrate with the cloud”.

RWS also emphasizes that the increase in survey respondents saying they work remotely (from 38% in 2020 to 59% in 2023) shows that the online platform is key to meeting user needs.

So, no promises from RWS to invest in development for the desktop version, but at least they don’t intend to move to SaaS exclusively.

What are RWS’ plans?

This month, RWS published its Translation Technology Insights 2023 report, with data from a customer survey conducted late in 2022.

Trados reports that only 7% of their survey respondents want new features. Trados notes their goal is therefore to improve the features that are already in existence, and to provide better training on how to use these features.

Survey data also shows confidence in the productivity of cloud solutions has grown over time. In 2016, only 35% felt cloud-based tools were as productive or perform as well as offline tools, compared to 48% now.

Concerns around security are also clearly decreasing. In 2016 only 26% of respondents were happy using the cloud to work on confidential files, compared to 46% now.

You can read more about cloud platform security in this RWS White Paper.

Like the majority of survey respondents, at Web-Translations our primary concern regarding using the cloud is the security of our clients’ content. We have implemented additional protocols to ensure that our data remains safe, such as only using the cloud for content which will be in the public domain.

It seems to us that RWS/Trados still has some way to go in assuring freelancers, corporations and LSPs that its handling of data is confidential and secure, that there won’t be periods of downtime if the cloud is unavailable, and that they won’t lose their work due to a technology failure.

In conclusion

It’s impossible to review Trados 2022 without looking at the cloud, which seems to have been the focus of Trados’ development efforts. And while the cloud has its uses, it’s not a replacement for the desktop version (at least not for us!).

The 2022 desktop version is perhaps slightly better than 2021, however the cloud is the same whether you’re accessing it from Trados Team, or with your Trados Studio 2021 or Studio 2022 license.

If you have a version of Studio older than 2021 and want to use the cloud platform, then upgrading certainly makes sense. If you’re not interested in the cloud, we don’t feel upgrading is completely necessary.

However, the way Trados works is that upgrading to the newest version is more expensive if you’re working with an older version. So, if you don’t upgrade to 2022, and Studio 2024 comes out next year, then you will pay more to upgrade from 2021 to 2024 than if you were upgrading from 2022 to 2024. Worth bearing in mind when making your decision.