Everybody wants a translation to be perfect. The translator, the project manager, and of course, the customer. Quality Assurance is the term of art we use for getting as close to perfect as possible. Since nobody has unlimited time to check and recheck translations for accuracy, we’ve developed a systematic process for identifying any errors that might remain in a document after the translation team has delivered it to us.

The software Xbench (by Apsic) plays a strong supporting role in our QA process. This tool allows us to implement QA procedures independently of other CAT tools. It allows us to generate clear QA reports in order to communicate with our language partners. And although it’s a standalone piece of software, it works seamlessly with the different CAT tools we use, dramatically improving the efficiency and effectiveness of QA from start to finish.

Why Xbench? SDL Studio and MemoQ have their own limits and idiosyncrasies when it comes to QA. The MemoQ QA tool can generate excessive false positives, slowing down the process and increasing the risk that real errors will be lost among the noise. On the other hand, the Studio QA tool has been known to underreport true errors, resulting in inconsistent quality control. Xbench provides a robust set of built-in QA checks which can be customized and personalized without limit, providing a foundation for running QA thoroughly and consistently.

Availability

As a cross-platform tool, Xbench works with most major CAT tools, including SDL Studio, MemoQ and Memsource.  It is easy to add to the workflow and has a liberal trial policy, allowing a full evaluation before purchase. The 30 day trial is 30 days of actual use, not 30 calendar days. The price is currently 99 Euros for a year. There is also a freeware version. Xbench is not just a QA tool: its powerful search functions make it very useful for organizing and prioritizing a range of language resources, from translation memories to termbases, XLIFF files to common corpus file types. Here, we just focus on its use in QA.

Basic use

Although we use it with other tools as well, here we will discuss Xbench in the context of its SDL Studio plug-in. The process for starting (loading) a job will be different for other tools, but the basic process is the same across platforms.xbench_studio_button

With the plug-in, Xbench QA checks can be launched directly from SDL Studio. You’ll find a button to the right side of the top ribbon in file view.

The basic control panel for Xbench provides a range of built-in QA checks in addition to your custom-built checks. You choose the type of QA checks to run and you can also limit your checks to certain classes of segments, excluding other classes of segments. For example, the check could ignore 100% matches or ignore the formatting tags and focus only on text. QA checks include URL and alphanumeric mismatches, unpaired symbols, and inconsistencies across source and target segments. To begin QA, you click the “check ongoing translation” button on the right side.

xbench_control

The process begins with spell check.  Instead of forcing you to check spelling for each individual document, Xbench provides a cross-file view, allowing you to skip over false positives once and only once. This finalizes the list of actual spelling errors more quickly than most built-in CAT tool spell checks can do. Once spelling errors have been identified, click OK. Xbench will now display a complete list of potential errors, including the spelling mistakes you just identified.

xbench_results

The list will be broken down by category, noting inconsistency in source and target, alphanumeric mismatch and unpaired quotes. You can review the list and mark those that appear to be false positives, by selected the row and typing CTRL-M. Once you have finished marking false positives, clicking on the “Hide marked” radio button under “Filter Issues” in the top menu lets you see only the remaining QA issues.

Once you have pared down the results to genuine QA problems, you can take action. The final report, identifying the problem type, specific file and segment for each issue, can be saved as an Excel spreadsheet to be shared as needed. Correcting the problems that have been identified is easy as well: just select a problem segment to immediately open it within your preferred CAT tool. We have found that isolating, identifying, and actively correcting errors via Xbench is a quick and efficient process.

xbench_exported_report

Conclusion

We’ve had a good experience with the Xbench tool. It allows us to ensure higher quality translations more efficiently, by essentially swapping time wasted on repetitive false positives for attention to legitimate error candidates. Good QA is the quintessential pay-it-forward business service. It’s good for the translator, good for us, and good for the customer.