Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews

PASSOLO 5 Professional Edition

PASS Engineering GmbH was founded as a medical analysis system provider in 1990 by Achim Herrmann and Florian Sachse. Providing localized medical software proofed to be crucial for the young company. Because of the lack of appropriate tools they began to develop their own localization tool which they called PASSOLO. After first being used internally within PASS Engineering, PASSOLO finally became available as an independent localization tool in 1998. The main activities of PASS Engineering are the development, production and support of the software localization tool PASSOLO and the development of OEM software for healthcare systems. The company is still a management owned company and is located in Bonn, Germany. Florian Sachse is a member in several localization-related organizations. He is for example an active member of the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) - XLIFF TC (XML Localisation Interchange File Format, Technical Committee) and belongs to the council of the TILP (The Institute of Localisation Professionals).

Fig. 1: Full TRADOS and Microsoft Word Spell Checker Integration into PASSOLO 5:
PASSOLO 5 features full integration of TRADOS Workbenches (fuzzy matches - lower left) and associated MultiTerm terminology databases (red mark above term - lower right) into the PASSOLO interface. Likewise Microsoft Word's spell checker can be fully integrated and displays spell checks while you type (red underline - lower right).
Please click on the image for a closer look!


PASSOLO is a specialized software localization tool. It handles a large number of software-related file formats, including Windows 32- and 16-bit binaries, as well as binary files developed by Microsoft Visual BASIC and Windows RC files. PASSOLO includes a powerful XML parser and supports any text based format. An Optional Add-In provides additional support of Microsoft .NET, including all resource formats and frameworks, as well as third-party- and custom-made controls. Two other optional Add-Ins support binaries developed by Borland Delphi and C++-Builder, and Java programs for all platforms including not only property files but also ListResourceBundles as Java sources, compiled (.class) or even compressed into Jar-archives. Extracted text strings can be translated into numerous languages including Asian languages (Unicode) and right-to-left scripts like Hebrew and Arabic.
Before you start translating, you can use the Pseudo Translation feature to check the application for localization suitability. Translation is supported by several WYSIWYG editors for dialogs, menus, bitmaps, icons, and cursors to visualize the user interface while you translate. This allows you to modify the user interface where translation strings would not fit otherwise without any danger of accidentally deleting or changing existing elements or structures.
PASSOLO features an internal Translation Memory (TM), which allows you to re-use existing translations or text from previous translations not conducted in PASSOLO. This internal TM features many typical functions such as automatic pre-translation of new projects as well as full and fuzzy matching. In addition,
PASSOLO is able to exchange data directly with all major TM systems and supports common data exchange formats such as TMX.
The quality of your translations can be checked for spelling errors either by an integrated function or by linking to MS Word. You can furthermore easily detect truncated or overlapping text and the incorrect allocation of shortcuts, accelerators and access keys using PASSOLO's automatic checking features.
You can extend PASSOLO's functionalities by using its integrated VBA compatible scripting engine and OLE automation allowing you to use a whole collection of ready-to-use macros available free of charge, or easily add custom features by using an integrated IDE.
PASSOLO offers multiple editions for any size of companies and projects. The availability of a free edition allows freelance translators to accept projects prepared in PASSOLO and reduces license fees and simplifies the workflow for agencies and companies.

Fig. 2: Localizing dotNET Applications in PASSOLO 5
With the help of the dotNET Add-In, PASSOLO fully supports Microsoft .NET Framework 1.0 and 1.1 and displays real .NET controls. This ensures, that all .NET related custom properties can be parsed and localized.
You may click on the image for a closer look!

PASSOLO 5 provides several new features and enhancements:

  • New Translation Assistant for simplified navigation and automatic selection of display options for translation units
  • Automatic display of (fuzzy) matches
  • Concordance search
  • Interactive Spell checker (internal or using MS Word). If using MS Word 2003, even elaborated functions such as: "check while you type" can be used.
  • Automatic translation of repetitions and full matches.
  • Project Management allows to define and monitor tasks
  • Reports in HTML format
  • New quality checks for text length and source list
  • Basic support of ODBC data bases: MS Access and Excel, MS SQL Server, Oracle, My SQL and IBM DB 2.
  • New and improved optional Add-Ins:
    • TRADOS Add-In
      • Direct and simultaneous access to multiple desktop or server-based TRADOS translation memories and their associated terminology data bases without the need to synchronize them with PASSOLO.
      • Mark up and interactive adoption of terminology out of TRADOS MultiTerm
      • Export to MultiTerm iX
      • Support of TMX 1.4
    • XML Parser
      • Visual setup dialog to simplify the selection of localizable data elements and attributes
      • Expert mode with file preview
      • Support of XPATH expressions
    • Microsoft .NET Add-In
      • Support for inherited dialogs
      • Display of all symbols and bitmaps
    • Borland Delphi/C++ Builder Add-In
      • Support of inherited forms und frames
      • Display of all symbols and bitmaps
    • Text File Parser
      • Simple localization of nearly any text file
      • Support of different character encodings
      • User definable text recognition rules
    • Palm OS Software Add-In
      • Localization of Palm OS Software

Fig. 3:
PASSOLO 5 Option Dialog:
All Options, Add-Ins and File Parsers can be easily selected, activated or deactivated and configurated in the new Options Dialog
You may click on the image for a closer look!


Editions & Prices:

PASSOLO 5 offers a highly differentiated product range offering optimized and cost-effective solutions for any user profile:

  • The Translator Edition is a free editor for translators allowing them to accept and handle projects from companies and agencies delivered as bundles created with the Team Edition. The Translator Edition cannot create own projects or generate target files, but includes all editors and test functions necessary to create high quality translations for your customers.
    Free Download from the PASSOLO Web site.
  • PASSOLO's Standard Edition is designed for the localization needs of small and medium sized projects which do not need to integrate with a TM or terminology system and do not require custom made macros. You can exchange data in text format.
    € 990; Optional Microsoft .NET or Borland Delphi/C++ Builder Add-Ins: € 200 each.
  • The Professional Edition is especially suitable for the localization of medium to large sized projects. Optional Add-Ins for TM and terminology solutions guarantee the exchange of translation strings from and to prominent TM solutions such as TRADOS for the use in translating user guides, manuals and online help. A VBA compatible scripting environment allows you to quickly and efficiently alter or define macros for the processing of custom data formats or special test requirements. The Professional Edition can be integrated into workflow systems using OLE Automation. You can exchange Data not only in text format but directly in the data formats of many common TM systems or through TMX. In addition Data can also be exchanged with other PASSOLO systems in the form of translation bundles. These can be processed using the Standard and Professional Editions, and may include glossaries and macros extending the functionality to the Standard Edition.
    € 1490. Microsoft .NET or Borland Delphi/C++ Builder Add-In for Professional Edition: € 300 each.
  • PASSOLO's Team Edition offers the same functions as the Professional Edition but can be used to create and distribute, depending on the license type, either 5 or 10 translation bundles to translators using the free Translator Edition. Thus, with a single software license it is possible to delegate entire projects to external translators, including the tasks of adapting and testing the dialog layout. Team Edition (5): € 2990; Team Edition (10): € 3990. Microsoft .NET or Borland Delphi/C++ Builder Add-In for Team Edition: € 500 each.

Optional Add-Ins:

  • TRADOS Add-In or STAR Add-In (not available for the Standard Edition): € 500 each.
  • Java Add-In: € 400.

Usage & Evaluation

PASSOLO 5 features many new and improved features closing the gaps that existed in a few features when compared to some competitors: It now features a Text Parser able to adjust filters for the extraction of translatable stings to any text-based, non-tagged file format. The parser features a preview function which allows you to verify that all desired strings were in fact recognized and extracted and includes the option to map strings for easier extraction commands. As in the competing products, handling of this parser is thought to be reserved for Software engineers and requires at least basic knowledge of Regular Expressions. To make this task a little easier for non-pro's, I recommended to support the humble trials of bloody beginners by offering a table of the most common commands.
In addition, PASSOLO's XML support was improved but it is still very cumbersome to setup and customize XML files for the extraction of translatable content. What is missing is a more visual approach, allowing you to select tags while showing you the file structure. On the other side, PASSOLO 5 is the only tool able to localize ID-based, multilingual XML files by offering alignment of the corresponding strings in different languages.

If you are frequently localizing .NET applications, PASSOLO 5 is more than ever the tool of choice. It does not only support all relevant .NET file types (binaries and resources) but allows you to work on all custom controls, properties and elements in the correct context and by showing you exactly what you will get. This includes especially the standard controls of applications based on the .NET Frameworks 1.0 or 1.1, which are shown exactly like they appear at runtime of the .NET application. In other words, you can relax to have a genuine WYSIWYG display of all dotNET controls. In addition, you can also localize and modify all standard and many custom controls.
Besides the further developed dotNET features, I was most impressed by the high degree of interaction between PASSOLO 5 and TRADOS. Due to an extensive use of the TRADOS Workbench API, you incorporate a workbench TM into PASSOLO's fuzzy match list and get known terminology from an associated MultiTerm data base marked within PASSOLO's source window. It is now very easy to include recognized terminology into the target string by simply using the same shortcuts as from within TRADOS. In addition you can associate up to 4 more TRADOS workbenches without the need to synchronize between them and PASSOLO.
A third major improvement of PASSOLO 5 is the choice between an internal spell checker or the incorporation of Microsoft Word's spell checking power with all its options and features such as the suggestion of alternatives. Both options offer you a "Check While You Type" function, underlining unknown words but the internal engine features much less semantic and syntactic knowledge. On the other hand, you have to be aware that the implementation of MS Word's spell checker might slow down you translation, especially if you are on an older system and / or do not run MS Word 2003.

As all its competitors, PASSOLO 5 is not equipped with a real version control typically in content management systems (CMS). Therefore, delivered PASSOLO bundles are locked until re-imported from the translators. However, PASSOLO 5 offers scalable user rights, which allow you to lock and/or hide certain strings for the translators.
With all these great new achievements, there is only little room for suggestions. It just occurred, that when trying to provide feedback about translation strings, it would be nice if you could copy a marked string containing both source and target together with its ID, commentary and reference into the clipboard. Another suggestion involves an easy input and manual editing options of terminology glossaries right during translation from within PASSOLO. This might sometimes be helpful as you often will not add items once the translation is concluded. On the other side, if a company-approved terminology must be used, such entries should be marked as being preliminary.

In conclusion: Due to its intuitive and easy to learn interface, working with both the Team and Professional Editions of PASSOLO 5 and evaluating the product was (almost) fun. It provides the best solution for the localization of dotNET applications up to date and features a wonderful, also unrivaled TRADOS TM and terminology integration.

System Requirements:
Minimum: Pentium III 500 MHz; Parallel or USB port for dongle; XGA 1024 x 768 graphic card
Non Asian Languages: 64MB RAM, 400MB HD, Windows 95, NT 4 or higher.
Asian Languages: 256 MB RAM, 400 MB HD, Windows 2000 or XP.
TRADOS Add-Ins and Macros: TRADOS 5 (6.5 recommended for Online TM and terminology access).
Microsoft Word (Word 2003 recommended) as alternative to the basic internal spell checker.

Company Information:
PASS Process Automation Software Systems Engineering GmbH: Remigiusstr. 1, 53111 Bonn,
Germany; Tel: +49 228 697242, FAX +49 228 697104; Email: info@passolo.com; URL: http://www.passolo.com



© 2004 by Dr. Thomas Wassmer, e-mail: tom at softreviews.org

  Translation & Localization


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