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