Trados just keeps drivin’ ’em away June 26, 2009Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips, Tools.
Trados used to be the 800-pound gorilla in the translation industry. They did a good job, and their customers were loyal. Due to a series of missteps and bad judgment I have a feeling that won’t be the case for much longer.
The original title of this post was going to be “Trados Studio 2009, you can kiss my…” but I didn’t want to offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. SDL Trados released Studio 2009 a little while ago, and it was a mess. Let me just tell you – there were and are a lot of angry translators out there. Sure, translators enjoy complaining about Trados (always have, always will), but this time it’s different.
The first inkling many of us blog readers had that there was trouble ahead was Translation Tribulations’ post SDL Trados Studio 2009 BOHICA. Now the product is out, and he is uncannily correct in his prediction – BOHICA! Many of the translators who bought the product are regretting their decision and want to switch back to their old version – but then you are out the money. It really isn’t worth trying to contact Trados Support since they are unresponsive – probably because they have been deluged by complaints.
The reasons for the freelance backlash are two-fold: functionality (or lack thereof) and licenses. Studio 2009 has placed more importance on project management than on translation – which is the reason Trados was developed in the first place. Your lone wolf translator does not need project management functions. Susanne III pointed out that as a beta tester she informed SDL Trados several times that this new version was developed without considering the needs of the freelance translator who would actually be using the product. For example, apparently Studio 2009 doesn’t allow uncleaned files.
The main reason for the ATA’s German Language Division list boycott discussion was the realization that SDL Trados appeared to have gotten too big for its britches and was no longer going to allow freelancers to use the product on more than one computer with the simple freelance version – and forcing them to sign a letter confirming they will not be getting a second license in the future. I for one work on my home computer, but use a laptop when I’m traveling or out of the office. This one-license policy would not allow me to install Trados on my laptop. And heaven forbid you should buy a new computer and want to install your existing Trados license on your new computer. Nope, sorry, you’re out of luck without signing your life away. The only other alternative is to buy a multi-license version, which is something like €435 ($600). I don’t know about you, but $600 a year (if the license is only good for a year) is a lot of money for most freelance translators.
Installing the new product can apparently be a total nightmare due to licensing questions. There are reports that it has taken some colleagues three to four days to get their systems back in working order (nevermind the lost wages). One very well-respected colleague on TW_Users reported he was giving up trying to install the product “[a]fter hours reading information, returning licenses, installing, uninstalling and reinstalling software, rebooting, swearing in several languages, I give up. Honestly, there is a limit to everything—including my recklessness—and all I achieved is to have my old Trados back working—for a limited time, now, of course.” He published an article on his adventures in this month’s Accurapid Journal.
According to the SDL Trados website, “When upgrading to SDL Trados Studio 2009, you will need to de-activate your previous software license. Also note that SDL Trados 2007 Suite is included as part of SDL Trados Studio 2009. It will be fully functional until 30/06/2010. It is possible to install both products in parallel. If you would like to retain your previous license, you could consider purchasing a full new license.” Imagine that – spend lots of money on a piece of software that is only good for one year, because newer products now come with expiration dates. No thanks. SDL Trados soon changed their tune and allowed two licenses to work at the same time to quell the uprising.
Paul Filkin, Client Services Director at SDL Trados, wrote to the TW_Users group and tried to explain the theory behind SDL Trados’ decision:
On the “now” old SDL Trados 2007 Suite and earlier you purchase a single activation. In case you had problems, such as Hurricane Isobel, or someone stole your laptop when you nipped into MacDonalds [sic], or you simply forgot to return it before you rebuilt your machine, we actually allowed for two additional activations before your activation was prevented. The reason we put a limit on this is obvious because we have to be able to prevent misuse of the activation utility which some less honest people would take advantage of.
It is often the case that some users seem to rebuild their machines more than others, and sometimes forget to return their license everytime they do it. This is quite easy, I have done it myself. But we still have to draw the line somewhere. When this happens you are asked to jump through a few hoops to verify your entitlement to our satisfaction and I think this is perfectly acceptable.
On the new SDL Trados Studio 2009 software we have taken a different approach. You can now purchase additional activation codes for the Freelance software for a small amount so that you can legally run the different versions on your laptop and your desktop at the same time and have them both activated at all times.
This will not prevent the McDonalds scenario from being a problem, and you will still have to jump through a few hoops if you lose the ability to return your license and need Support to reactivate it for you. But it will give you the ability to have more flexibility in how you work.
Again, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many companies that assume from the get-go that their loyal customers are constantly trying to pull one over on them. OK, maybe Microsoft, but there are indeed a lot of pirated copies of their software floating around. I don’t know a single translator working with a pirated copy of a TEnT (translation environment tool).
Now one of the GLD members, who has had a service contract with them for many years now, reports that upgrading to Studio 2009 is a prerequisite for having a support contract anymore. They will not be offering any support – not even paid support – if you aren’t willing to upgrade to Studio 2009.
It has become apparent to most translators that Trados is no longer interested in the lowly freelance translator. They want to sell their product to agencies. But the best product in the world won’t be any use to agencies if their freelancers are still working with the old versions or have switched to another TEnT altogether.
Hey, Trados, you might want to send your employees to a class on how to provide good customer service. Instead of always blaming the customer (who, incidentally, is paying your salary by buying your product) why don’t you try to find a solution that satisfies everyone. If Trados had just decided “”Please note that this new version of Trados can run side-by-side with previous versions of Trados.” I don’t think there would have been this much uproar.
I for one am sticking with my current version (Trados 2007 Freelance) for now, because it doesn’t have an expiration date and still works fine. I’ve been with Trados since Version 2.x and have taught other translators how to use Trados in seminars and in the translation grad courses at Kent State University over the years. I was definitely a loyal customer and even a fan. Not anymore. If the time comes that I need to upgrade to something else (because I have bought a new computer or something) I will be switching to a competitor. I hear Wordfast and MemoQ are good products…
If anyone else is considering switching to a new TEnT, you might want to check out Jost Zetzsche’s site, Translators Training. You can “access video-based tutorials for all the major translation technology and localization tools and much more for only Euro 34.99 a year.” That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than shelling out several hundred dollars for a tool that you decide you don’t like.