With the introduction of Trados Studio 2009 SDL launched SDL Trados AutoSuggest, a plug-in that allows you to leverage content of translation memories to speed up the translation process. Trados AutoSuggest is quite handy, but with a price tag of $ 250 also quite expensive. Is AutoSuggest worth its price? And how does it work?
You can read it in this article.
Trados AutoSuggest: what is it?
Trados AutoSuggest is officially called Trados AutoSuggest Creator. And that’s exactly what it does: the piece of software, available in Trados Studio and activated by pasting a license key, creates autosuggest dictionaries which you can use in your projects.
In order to create to dictionaries (in the form of BMP-files) you need to have a translation memory with at least 25,000 (!) different entries. Trados AutoSuggest will launch its logic over it to extract relating source and target terms. These terms are added to the BMP file. As soon as AutoSuggest finds a source term which matches a term in the AutoSuggest dictionary and you start typing the first letter of this word, AutoSuggest opens a tiny menu with options which you can simply add to the target by selecting them (or use the arrows and Enter keys in order to work even faster). That way you do not need to type popular phrases (single words but sometimes combinations as long as 4 or 5 words) over and over. And due to the fuzziness of AutoSuggest you sometimes get several interrelated but different terms as well. You are therefore not bound to a single word, but can use synonyms as well.
Sometimes AutoSuggest isn’t as intelligent as you want it to be: some words which occur many times in your TMs do not trigger the AutoSuggest feature and sometimes they are only shown partly. However, in large projects Trados AutoSuggest will prove its usefullness – you can free up much more time by using it.*
* Depending on the leverage of the TM, the recurrence of particular words and the specific aspects of a project. In my experience AutoSuggest proved of specific value in IT documents and technical translations, but you should really have a massive TM to pick the real fruits.
The pros and cons of Trados AutoSuggest
Trados AutoSuggest can prove very useful and really offer an advancement in project speed. Furthermore the solution is very straightforward as it is implemented in Trados Studio directly and AutoSuggest dictionaries are created via a wizard. So you do not have to follow difficult processes to leverage all knowledge stored in TMs. On the other hand AutoSuggest is only worth the investment when you have a TM with at least 25,000 entries: it simply doesn’t work when your TM contains less entries. That’s a major caveat as you simply do not create that large TMs easily. If you specialize in more than one field or if you just started your translation business it is a bit more difficult to benefit from AutoSuggest. That applies also when you work for different companies and you cannot/won’t use a general TM for all those companies: you need to have a multitude of (larger) projects to collect enough TM entries to make Trados AutoSuggest working.
Another con is that AutoSuggest dictionaries are a static thing: once you create one you can use it freely in your projects, but in order to leverage content from a later date you should regenerate the AutoSuggest dictionary by following the wizard and creating a new one.
AutoSuggest therefore can be of use, but does not work entirely flawless in terms of processes and content.
Trados AutoSuggest buy advice
With a price of around $ 250 (€ 200) Trados AutoSuggest is in no way a cheap solution. However, it can prove its value when you have translation memories that are large enough to process and when you specialize in certain fields. If you specialize in both technical, marketing, medical, financial and legal translations (that are quite a few specializations!) the return on investment will take more time than when you specialize in only technical and/or medical translations. It is possible to generate an AutoSuggest dictionary in one specialization and use it in another (for instance I can use a dedicated IT dictionary for general projects as well because of its length and the overlap in terms), but in many cases it does not prove as valuable as when you have one (or more) dedicated dictionaries for each field.
The ROI for Trados AutoSuggest can by no means determined easily. The investment is relatively huge (a third of the price for Trados Studio) and its effiency and usefulness is highly depending on your particular situation. In some cases I gained a time saving of 20% and in some cases of 50%, but that was for specific projects and 50% time savings on a particular project does not predict anything for your whole translation business.
I believe the price is quite high for a time saver which is not always as useful as you should expect – so watch out for a deal and buy the tool only then. If you cannot afford it, rest assured that you won’t mis anything special. And when you buy it, don’t expect to finish projects days earlier – it’s a matter of minutes and that’s often not worth € 200.