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Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews
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Introduction:

Schaudin.com was founded in 1993 as a software designer company developing custom-made applications running on Microsoft Windows. Since 1995 they have focused on translation software for the multilingual localization of MS Windows software. Besides their flagship RC-WinTrans, they also offer custom development for special needs that cannot be met with standard products (usually the translating of nonstandard file types or special translation requests). With their central office located in the Frankfurt Rhein/Main high-tech area in Germany, Schaudin.com is also supported by employees in Berlin (Germany). In summer 2005, Schaudin.com will open a branch office in Seattle, WA, USA.

Features:

RC-WinTrans X8 offers all functions of previous versions: It supports the translation of Java properties files (PROPERTIES), single-language Win32 resource script files (RC) and binary executable files (EXE/DLL), ActiveX Control Data (Win32), Windows INI files and InstallShield SHL files, HTML files (as part of graphical user interfaces), Microsoft .NET, Borland .NET and RESX resource files and .NET binary files such as RESOURCES, EXE and DLL including framework 1.1 standard files, as well as XLIFF files and databases (presently there is only a converter for MS Access available!). The translation of graphical user interfaces is enhanced by visual editors providing WYSIWYG functionality. You can import previous translations either as other RC-WinTrans X8 projects or as previously translated target files. Alternatively, you can attach existing dictionaries in delimited text or TMX format. RC-WinTrans also provides direct support for TRADOS TMs by OLE-linking to a TRADOS Translator's Workbench. Translations can be exported into Microsoft Excel, delimited text or TMX format. RC-WinTrans provides powerful local or global Find/Replace features. In an early state of the Software development cycle you can use pseudo-translation to determine whether your application can be easily localized and check if it functions correctly after being translated. You can check and validate your translations with the help of many QA (quality assurance) functions such as: high quality spell checker for many European languages, placeholder check, text fit check, overlapping check, leading/trailing spaces check, trailing colon/ ellipsis check, control character check, hotkey check, text fit check for detached strings and uniform translation check. For project management, you may generate reports to provide an overview of the most important project details. Reports are in HTML format which can be easily saved, printed or stored for future use. Identical source text (repetitions) is automatically pre-translated and you can design workflows by defining a task list which is then processed in chronological order.

 

Fig. 1: RC-WinTrans X8 - TRADOS-unterstützte visuelle Dialogübersetzung:
Like in previous versions of RC-WinTrans, Software dialogs can be visually translated (Layout Editing - upper middle)) and via dialogs comfortably adjusted (Dialog Box Control Properties - upper layer - lower left)). Please do also note the general assembly of RC-WinTrans Main GUI, consisting of the menu and tool bars (top), workspace (project, file and resource navigator - upper left), the Translation Edit window including the fuzzy matches from the cross-linked TRADOS Workbench (bottom left), The Tools window featuring the new HTML switchboard (upper right) - here used for price calculation and the Miscellaneous Window - here used for concordance search of a string within all documents of the project (lower right).
Please click on the image for a closer look!

RC-WinTrans X8 was completely redesigned and reprogrammed. It offers the advantage and know-how of previous program versions but does not contain much of their code. By implementing the most promising technologies, RC-WinTrans X8 guarantees to be open and adaptable to accommodate to the needs and techniques arising in the future. Three major concepts were used:

  1. The system design has adopted the benefits of the XLIFF (XML Localisation Interchange File Format, Info) format which was specifically designed to be a standard in software localization.
    RC-WinTrans X8 uses XLIFF as its underlying data storage format and for data processing. File converters are used to convert the file formats of major development platforms to XLIFF for processing (translation) and back to the original file formats to create translated target files.
  2. In order to achieve flexibility, RC-WinTrans X8 has integrated Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA macros provide the best way to consider individual requirements for the translation of Software. You can use them to solve problems quickly and easily or to customize RC-WinTrans and extend its functionality to provide individual solutions. The technological counterpart to the VBA integration is the RC-WinTrans X8 object model, a standard Microsoft COM API that provides access to all localization data contained in the underlying XML database file, to various tools (e.g. resource type editors and word processing tools), and to the user interface. Thus the object model opens up different parts of RC-WinTrans while you may use VBA to manipulate these parts and accomplish whatever it is you require.
  3. A HTML views concept completes the new system design of RC-WinTrans X8. Together with VBA and the RC-WinTrans X8 object model, HTML forms allow you to create a customized display of information able to accommodate the needs of virtually any software localization situation.

With the new design the following novelties were possible:

Translation/Editing: The use of XLIFF allows you to store alternate translations for any source string. You can use external tools to edit target files directly by exporting them to the appropriate editor and re-import the data into the database of the translation project (XML data). You can set item attributes and state flags according to the XLIFF standard.

External Translation: Data that needs to be translated or reviewed can be easily sent to an external translator in compact packages. These so-called project bundles contain a project file along with the corresponding XLIFF translation database files which is/are capable of holding additional information such as notes, task markers, alternate translations or custom data. You can add all or just a selection of files in a translation project. For easier distribution, project bundles are compressed into a standard ZIP archive right within RC-WinTrans.

Fig. 2: RC-WinTrans X8 - Spell Check, Flags, Task List and HTML Source View:
Main RC-WinTrans GUI featuring the source-target table with attached flags (upper right). The lower part of the Table View shows the source document (here a RC file) as a HTML representation enabling highlighting of xyxyx???. The Translation Edit Bar shows an example of highlighting words unknown to the spell-checker (lower left). In the lower right, the Miscellaneous Bar shows a list of tasks suggested for the project after automated QA measures were applied. Please note that both Tool windows are deactivated to allow for more space.
Please click on the image for a closer look

Project Management: RC-WinTrans X8 improved its project management features for working with various projects. RC-WinTrans projects may contain any number of files (and file types) and allow you to work on multiple projects simultaneously. The system architecture enables an elaborated source control: The use of XML in the form of XLIFF files (one per source file and one per target language) makes these files much easier to manage and to manipulate. In addition, XML project files integrate more efficiently with a source code control system than a binary file as you can control each translation unit independently. You can check out one target language, or even just a single file in a certain language. After processing, you can securely merge them back without affecting other languages or files. In addition to controlling user editing, you can also use this functionality if the source file has changed and consequently the localized file(s) need to be updated too. In this case you have the option of updating the affected files right away or of generating a report that lists everything that has been added, deleted, or changed within the source data. After a file is updated, all changes are clearly indicated so you can easily identify what needs to be reviewed. The reports are XLIFF files that are saved hierarchically, making it possible to track back changes that were made within a given time frame. The new HTML interface allows you to display, print or store a translation status page with pie charts of word counts in different processing states (Fig. 3). The HTML interface also allows a price calculation by internal customizable criteria or by using TRADOS via OLE-linking.

Flexibility: You can fully customize RC-WinTrans X8 due the tool's integration of Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and the RC-WinTrans object model (COM objects). The resulting flexibility is expanded even further by the use of custom HTML for views but also as client applications catching RC-WinTrans events and allowing access to RC-WinTrans as a server application. Such HTML clients can simply run within RC-WinTrans (hosted) or even in a browser window detached from the application. This is possible by inserting a specific ActiveX control into HTML pages which automatically handles the connection to the RC-WinTrans application. This also allows access to VBA scripts hosted by RC-WinTrans right from within your browser. The present system only allows access to RC-WinTrans acting as a local server on the same machine. However, the system architecture is open to be expanded to allow local network or even remote access to a RC-WinTrans server. The graphical user interface of RC-WinTrans X8 is available in both English and French.

Fig. 3: RC-WinTrans X8 - Visual Word Count Statistic:
All Functions within the Tools Bar can be accessed through this new switchboard interface designed in HTML. In this example, a statistic of the processing state of the project is visualized by an integrated SVG pie chart.
Please click on the image for a closer look!

Editions & Prices:

  • RC-WinTrans X8 Global Developer: The Global Developer Edition is the fully-functional RC-WinTrans software localization environment combined with advanced developing capabilities for customizing and extending RC-WinTrans. This product is designed for advanced users who want to develop their own Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macros or who want to be able to access RC-WinTrans system VBA macros to direct the tool to address their own unique requirements. The Microsoft Visual Basic integrated development environment (IDE) is included in the Global Developer Edition. stand-alone version for freelance translators or businesses with a single translation and localization workstation. It contains the entire translation and project management features of across. EUR 2200.
  • RC-WinTrans X8 Global: The Global Edition includes the complete and full-featured RC-WinTrans X8 localization environment designed for use by both project managers and translators. Primary qualities include: organizational features that simplify work with multiple files, multiple projects, and multiple translators; specialized checks and data views that address the unique circumstances of software localization and eliminate unnecessary errors; integrated use of dictionaries and translation memories that support the translation process; and automated processes that facilitate the localization process overall.
    The primary difference between the Global Developer Edition and the Global Edition is that the Global Edition does not include the Microsoft Visual Basic integrated development environment (IDE). This capability is only required by customers seeking to adapt RC-WinTrans X8 to suit their individual requirements. EUR 1750 EUR.
  • RC-WinTrans X8 Translator: The Translator Edition is a complete localization environment for localizing existing RC-WinTrans translation projects. It is designed to work with RC-WinTrans translation projects that have already been created with either the Global or Global Developer Editions. The Translator Edition provides the full range of RC-WinTrans X8's features with the following exceptions: an RC-WinTrans translation project cannot be created nor is it possible to add or remove files from a translation project. Unlike other software localization tools, RC-WinTrans does not use specially-prepared, proprietary bundle files for translators. The Translator Edition works with the same project and project data files as the Global and Global Developer Editions. The open XML (XLIFF) project data files are packed into project bundles (for exchanging translation projects with external translators). These project bundles are in the standard ZIP format. EUR 600.
  • RC-WinTrans X8 Translator Group License: The Translator Group License is intended for companies that use a number of internal or external translators in their business. A translator is provided with the RC-WinTrans X8 Translator Edition to translate/localize one or more project files created with the Global Edition or Global Developer Edition. The Translator Group License includes one copy (single-user license) of the Global Developer Edition and two copies (multi-user licenses) of the Translator Edition. The Translator Edition can be copied and used without any restrictions on use for the license holder. The Translator Group License is an alternative to purchasing multiple copies of the RC-WinTrans X8 Global Edition. EUR 4500.

Note on "multi-user licenses": Discounts are available on purchases of more than two copies of a single-user license. Please contact Schaudin.com or your software reseller to request an offer for the number (and type) of licenses that you are interested in.


Usage & Evaluation

As expected, RC-WinTrans X8 did install without any flaws on both test systems (Windows XP Pro on an older PIII 866 MHz, 256 MB RAM as well as on a 1.73 GHz Centrino Laptop offering 1024 MB RAM and running on Windows XP Home Edition. As previous editions, RC-WinTrans X8 offers all necessary and many elaborated functions for the localization of MS Windows Software. In addition, version X8 provides you with the best known system architecture for an open and optimized development of future versions. You can take advantage of unrivaled options for an optimal customization of the entire system via VBA macros and their manipulation by adapted or new HTML forms.
RC-WinTrans X8 continued with the tool's great tradition of excellent help systems, documentation and support. It provides a comprehensive HTML help system (in English), a manual in PDF as well as a start-up guide in print. You receive general support for RC-WinTrans X8 at no additional charge. In addition, there are advanced support packages available if you need more support time or if you want to take advantage of Schaudin.com's experience in custom-made VBA macros.
By basing all translations on the XLIFF-format, RC-WinTrans offers very powerful source and update control features which are fully compatible with several external version control systems (e.g. Microsoft Visual SourceSafe). This ensures real version control during the development of multilingual Software packages.
Additional nice features are a powerful spell checker which marks unknown words and offers alternatives for their corrections, the display of text strings which were changed during the last session and a history of the last 20 operations. Other helpful options include switching of source and target languages at any time and an internal or TRADOS-linked price calculation enhanced by a clear HTML output.

I could only locate very few obstacles and downsides of the new RC-WinTrans X8: Although there are Translator Group licenses, where freelance translators can temporarily receive a Translators Edition to be able to handle RC-WinTrans project bundles, I would have liked to see a free "Feelance Edition" offering a freelance translator the opportunity to accept RC-WinTrans projects without temporary borrowing a license. I really like the new statistics reports in HTML but the SVG visualizations (especially the legends) are much too small. Being able to link RC-WinTrans to TRADOS is another great feature of this tool. Unfortunately, the technical realization is based on the relatively slow OLE instead of using the TRADOS API. Schaudin.com was already aware of this shortcoming and plans to use the TRADOS SDK to speed this interaction up and offer more cooperatively. Due to the choice of VBA as scripting language and the high licensing fees for VBA, only buyers of the most expensive RC-WinTrans version (Global Developer Edition) are able to alter present VBA scripts or develop new scripts. The licensing method used by RC-WinTrans X8 is machine dependent and has to be manually altered after major system alterations or a system crash - or if you need to transfer the license onto another system. However, response times of Schaudin.com are fast and the contact is very personal and full of good-will. As any project alterations are stored in the XLIFF file base and the design of the core application requires the entire file base to be loaded into the system memory when a project is opened, there is a large overhang which may slow down performance especially on older systems which only fulfill minimum system requirements. This was quite noticeable when using larger sample projects on my PIII system. Minor issues are the lack of (a documented) way to export or copy/paste the content of the Output window. However, an undocumented Ctrl-C operation works. More serious were problems with the import of any TMX file not generated by RC-WinTrans itself. I received last communications that this now has been fixed at least for TMX originating from TRADOS, SDLX and TRANSIT. Other problems involved the import or source display of certain RC files which was not solved until the finalization of this review.

In conclusion, RC-WinTrans X8 is more than ever a strong alternative for the localization of 32-bit Windows Software and one of the best options to translate .NET applications. Furthermore, the tool's open architecture and high customization features ensure that your investment into the RC-WinTrans way of Software localization will offer you maximum flexibility and will not be overrun by future developments.

System Requirements:
CPU: 1800 MHz; 256 MB RAM, 512 MB recommended; 32-bit Unicode application - can only run on Windows NT 4.0 incl. SP6, 2000 incl. SP4, XP; Display: 1024 x 768, high color (16 bit) - Monitor: 17'' (recommended: 19''); applications: MS Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher for the RCWinTrans GUI, Adobe SVG Viewer (for graphical parts of the HTML statistics views, an installation is also provided with the RC-WinTrans installation CD), Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 (required run-time environment, included in the installation program of RC-WinTrans and will be installed on the target system); Optional Software: Microsoft Excel (import/export), TRADOS (translation memory).

Company Information:
Schaudin.com; Ritterseestrasse 29, D-64846 Gross-Zimmern, Germany; Phone: +49 (6071) 951706, Fax: +49 (6071) 951707; email: info@schaudin.com; URL: http://www.schaudin.com.

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

 

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