Put money in the bank with Systran Desktop

Hype is a big part of marketing and some companies do it better than others. SDL is a good example of a company that engages in aggressive marketing (see related blog post here). Everyone knows about their flagship products, such as SDL Trados, which have become the industry standard. Google Translate is another example of efficient hype: hardly a day goes by without the announcement of a new feature, service or product enhancement. As a result, Google Translate and the Translation Toolkit are the rage of the Internet and are used by millions of people.

Systran, one of the pioneers of machine translation, uses a much more understated marketing approach with little hype. But they let their products speak for themselves. In a recent annual survey on machine translation software by advisory firm Global Equations, Systran came out on top (read more about that here).

Our company has been using the Systran V6 Desktop suite of machine translation (MT) products for over a year and we have already recouped our investment handily. Furthermore, these products have enhanced our capabilities in more ways than one. In this post I will review some key product features as well as benefits you can get from using Systran Desktop (the version we are running is the Systran Premium Translator version, some of the other product versions may not have all of these features). These tools can be used profitably by translators, translation companies and localization project managers.

I am planning to write a post in the near future on how we are using Systran Desktop for efficient post-editing of machine translation, which allows us to deliver over 50,000 words a day of high-quality translation.  So please stay tuned.

Single click translation. Once you have installed Systran Desktop, you can translate documents with a single click from Windows Explorer. You can also use Systran from within MS Office applications to translate sentences in a document.

Throughput. Translations are done quickly and the product can translate documents of up to 100 pages within several minutes. Larger documents may need to be split up into several parts though as the product does choke sometimes on mega-documents.

Language Support. Systran does not support nearly as many languages as Google, but it supports the main languages that translation companies are typically asked to translate. But if you regularly use Welsh, Yiddish, Swahili and Haitian Creole this may not be your product. 

Product Support. We have found Systran Desktop to be highly robust, well-designed and with an appealing user interface. The applications run smoothly and quickly on the systems we are using (it runs under Windows). Crashes are rare but when something does go wrong, Systran’s support team responds quickly. Product documentation is reasonable and provides the information you need to get the product running smoothly. 

Systran Desktop Applications

The Systran Desktop product suite is comprised of three user applications: Systran ToolbarSystran Dictionary Manager (SDM) and Systran Translation Project Manager. The Systran Machine Translation engine is installed on your machine locally during product installation. The MT engine comes with a wide range of industry/subject-specific dictionaries; or you can create your own dictionaries using the SDM.

Systran Toolbar

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The toolbar provides quick translation and dictionary lookup functions. If you use Google Translate on the web then the Systran toolbar may not get you very excited. But if you find yourself with no Internet connection, the Systran Toolbar will work just fine (while Google Translate will not). It can also be helpful when you want an alternative translation to the Google or Microsoft output. It also provides an excellent dictionary lookup feature which is bundled with some of the world’s leading dictionaries.

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Systran Dictionary Manager

Systran Dictionary Manager

This application allows you to build custom dictionaries for your translation projects. It supports several types of dictionaries:

User dictionaries-these specify how words and terms are translated in your project. User dictionaries can be bilingual or multilingual. Coding and expert coding can be used to specify many linguistic parameters. The coding tools that this product provides are very powerful, and you will need to be a qualified linguist or have one on your staff if you want to get the most out of these tools. You can import user dictionaries from external files in various formats such as TMX, Excel and CSV. The import function can be tricky and does not always work the way you want it to, but once you get it to work you can import large dictionaries from your company resources and incorporate them into your MT. 

Translation Memory-Systran Desktop supports TMs, which you can import from TXT or TMX files. This can also be a bit tricky but it works better than the User dictionary import. If a TM is used in your translation project, Systran will insert 100% matches into the translation. If it finds no match or a fuzzy match, it will insert the MT. It would be nice if Systran Desktop would support fuzzy matches as well, but it is not supported at this time.

Normalization- these dictionaries provide a way to normalize source text before translation or normalize target text after translation. We have not used this type of dictionary in our projects so I do not have much to say here.

Each dictionary can be exported to various formats such as TMX and TXT for compatibility with other CAT tools.

Systran Translation Project Manager

This application allows you to manage document and website translation projects using Systran MT. Supported documents include MS Office files and PDF files. For website translation, you can import HTML files or run the built-in crawler which spiders the entire website and downloads the web pages. Once you imported the project files, you can translate a single file or a batch of files at once.  

Systran Translation Project Manager

Once the translation has completed, the user has several powerful review options:

Sentence review-if you are translator, you can review the MT sentence-by-sentence and edit the result if needed. Helpful color-coding is provided in the editing area to indicate the nature of the translation result (e.g., TM match). You can also flag sentences as TM entries and export them to the SDM.

Term extraction review-you can run a built-in term extraction utility to isolate the special terms in your corpus. These are terms that are not found in the Systran dictionaries. You can flag these entries and export them to SDM where they will become part of a User dictionary.

Translation Memory review- displays and allows you to review segments that were translated as 100% matches from a TM. 

Not found word review-displays words that the MT could not translate; they can be translated and exported to the SDM where they will become part of a User dictionary.

Alternative meaning review-if there are terms in your project that can be translated in different ways by the various User dictionaries, all variations are displayed; you can then select which option is to be applied to your translation project.

Source Ambiguity review- displays terms in source document files that have more than one grammatical use, and which therefore must be configured for translation according to their context.

Following the review, the documents can be finalized and output in the original file format. 

In Summary

Systran Desktop is a reasonably-priced entry point for translators and companies that need high quality machine translation. The powerful SDM which supports custom user dictionaries and translation memories can be used to produce MT which is tailored to your specific needs. And unlike Google Translation Toolkit, Systran Desktop is a good solution for security minded companies that want to keep their language and communications resources confidential.  

About GTS

We provide translation and localization services in over 60 languages. Includes medical translation, technical translation, legal translation, software localization and website localization. More information can be found on our company website at www.gts-translation.com. You can also contact us by email at info@gts-translation.com if you have a project inquiry or need a quote.

4 thoughts on “Put money in the bank with Systran Desktop

  1. From Daniel Grasmick (via Linkedin)

    Hi David,
    Have read your blog on Systran. I also guess the survey from Global Equations was far from beeing complete…
    At least people continue to write about MT.
    Have fun,

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