Studio 2017 Alignment Tool: Suggestions and Notes

Having just had a less than enjoyable first experience with the new built-in alignment tool (https://community.sdl.com/solutions/language/translationproductivity/f/90/p/14032/49847) , I thought I would provide some (I hope) constructive feedback by jotting down some notes and suggestions on how the tool could be generally improved (i.e. unrelated to the specific "bug"-related problems I encountered):

(I'm sure some of these ideas will have been mentioned by others. Nevertheless, I wanted to provide as complete a list as I could)

Suggestions and Notes

  •     add functions: "disconnect all non-committed units" and "Realign from active unit". In fact, why not make these functions available with additional conditions: non-committed/committed, above/below active unit...?
  •     add automatic (configurable?) structure recognition for typical file types (i.e. docx). Headings, Tables, Figures should be aligned automatically.
  •     enhance "WYSIWYG" display: Again, headings and table/figure labels should be instantly recognizable as such in the alignment editor; (maybe even add a color-coded "document structure column") [cf: Editor View]
  •     Improve and intensify recognizability of the current segment status. While the color-coding on the connecting lines is nice, it is ultimately not particularly useful and does not "jump out" enough. I would suggest applying the same color to the actual text fields as well as the segment number fields. (also see my poorly edited screenshot below). Lines should connect all the way up to the box, boxes should have color-coded borders, and distances (empty spaces) between segment number and the connecting lines should be kept to an absolute minimum, also by shifting the left-hand scroll bar all the way to the left
  •     add function/keyboard shortcut: "arrange active segment(s) at the top of the window". This would go very well with the new feature that automatically tries to arrange connected segments next to one another, and would make it much easier to work with document pairs with very disparate segment numbers.
  •     do away with the extra click required to select segments in regular mode. The typical alignment is 1:1. This should not require as many clicks as it currently does. Drag and drop should be possible without first having to select the segment that is going to be dragged, for example. Really, the only time it should be necessary to first select the segments that one wants to align is when doing n:n-type alignments. I realize that "one more click" does not seem like a lot. However, consider doing the same thing in large-scale documents with thousands of units.
  •     add: Search function [cf: Editor View]
  •     add: Filter function [cf: Editor View] - could make excellent use of the color-coded "alignment quality" attribute.
  •     add: New segment status: "rejected" or "bad", with which the user can indicate that a particular segment (on either side) should NOT be used in any future automatic realignments. This should also be suitably visible (e.g. icon next to the segment changes color or segment is grayed out, or ..)
  •     modify: Means of selecting segments. Currently, selecting can be done by clicking the segment number only. Expand this to also allow selecting by clicking into the actual segment text (this currently places the cursor in the text for editing; that function could either be moved to a right-click > edit menu, a double click or made to require a keyboard modifier (shift+click));
  •     add/modify: Means of deselecting segments. Currently, deselecting is only possible by clicking into another segment's text. It should be possible instead to deselect a segment the same way it has been selected, i.e. by clicking onto the segment number field and/or the text field.
  •     streamline CPU usage: Despite reasonable hardware, I am experiencing some delays for every action (scrolling in documents, connecting segments), resulting in an overall "choppy" experience. I suspect this is because lines may be drawn in real time and because the automatic segment arrangement is working continuously as soon as the user starts scrolling. I would suggest requiring a small waiting time (e.g. 0.4 seconds of inactivity) before this automatic arrangement is initiated. (In other words: "make sure the user has actually stopped scrolling for a little while before attempting to re-arrange segments)
  •     hotkeys are not handled properly and no indications of overlapping hotkeys are given in the options. E.g. I set "save" to ctrl+s, but this hotkey did not work. Similarly, I set "align 1:1" to hotkey "F3", which worked, but the next time I wanted to use concordance search in Editor View, F3 no longer triggered that function there.
  •     It should generally be possible to select an unlimited number of segments. Having done so, it should be possible to use a hotkey for 1:1 alignment, to have the program automatically go from top to bottom and align all the selected segments 1:1.
  •     add: statistics on segment status (i.e. numbers + percentages of confirmed, rejected, auto-aligned red/yellow/green units etc.)
  •     add: manual splitting/joining of segments (cf: Editor View)

 

I realize this is quite the long list and that not everything may seem terribly important at first glance or at all. Some notes may even seem petty, depending on one's personal preferences. I absolutely accept that.

However, I will say that SOMETHING needs to be done if the tool is to become useful. I say become, because in its current form it is not an improvement over ancient Winalign! (And that is not even taking into account the crashes and exporting problems I happened to encounter.) I appreciate any development work being done on this. Thank you.

 

 

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