Saturday, July 16, 2011

Don’t search from the wrong side: a reminder for SDL 2009 users

A frequent complaint against SDL Trados Studio 2009 is that sometimes the program doesn’t find matches the user is sure are in memory.

The problem is real and we have seen it, but I believe that sometimes what the user is complaining about is a mismatch between Studio 2009 and Trados 2007.

In Trados 2007 it was possible to search a concordance only on the source text. This was a severe drawback (no target concordance), but it was simple to use: highlight some text, click on the concordance button (or hit F3), and you got your results.

In Studio 2009, on the other hand, you can find concordances not only on the source, but also on the target. This is great, but it also means that depending on where you highlight text, you may not get the results that you expect.

For example, if you copy your source text to target (to overwrite it – a frequent technique when translating marked-up text). You have on the right of the editor’s pane (the target part), text that is still in your source language. You highlight a few words, because you are sure you had encountered them earlier, and want to see your previous translation. You click F3 to invoke the concordance search…


…and don’t get any match. Yet you are sure you have that string in memory. What happened?

What happened is that if you selected the text in the target part of the screen, and then called the concordance search, you were searching for a concordance on the translated text – but since the text you selected is not translated yet, the concordance doesn’t return any result.

If you selected the same words on the left (the source part of the screen), then launched the concordance search, you would get the result you expected:


So, even though it is true that Studio 2009 sometimes does not return matches you do have in memory, the program is not always to blame – just remember to launch your concordance searches from the appropriate side of the screen.

Update – Solutions for different concordance searches

Thanks to SDL’s Paul Filkin – here is how to handle the different concordance searches in Studio 2009:

    • F3 will take the source when you are in source, and target when you are in target
    • Ctrl+F3 will always search the source no matter where you take the text from.
    • Ctrl+Shift+F3 will always search the target no matter where you take the text from.

…and (again according to Paul), you can even customize these shortcuts, to better suit your needs.

I like having a tool with a rich set of options – even if that sometimes means a steeper learning curve.


  1. Do you know this never occurred to me..! Good tip. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for pointing this out; I'm only a lightweight user of Studio, mostly for testing compatibility scenarios, but lately various friends have been pelting me with questions about it and this will inevitably come up.

    I fell into a similar trap with memoQ recently, where if the text is selected on the target side the default is to search the target text. However, that can be changed in the concordance window, and I think the setting is remembered. Something similar might be nice to implement in Studio, as quite a few people copy source to target and overwrite, and it's simply more convenient to search the source term from the target side in that case.

  3. I am sorry to dissent, but according to my daily experience on TMS ITD files (which are always fully segmented, with source TUs copied into target TUs when no translation is available, before I open them in Studio - this is done by SDL TMS by default), I perform Concordance search all the time within the target column of the Studio Editor (in order to save time and not move from target to source column all the time), and Concordance searches are indeed performed in source, and in fact I always get the Concordance results I was expecting.
    This is confirmed by the fact that I still see Search Source on the right of the Concordance Search Window search box which automatically contains the text that I am searching for in the target unit.

  4. So, since Marco's experience is clearly different then mine, this suggests there must be some setting somewhere that determines where the source is performed... as Kevin suggests.

    Paul, any suggestion how to actually control this?

  5. You can use different shortcuts to achieve whatever you like.

    So for example (defaults), using ctrl+F3 will always search the source no matter where you take the text from.

    Using ctrl+shift+F3 will always search the target no matter where you take the text from.

    Using F3 will take the source when you are in source, and target when you are in target.

    But of course you can customise these as you see fit so you could make F3 always search source if you wanted to.

    What interested me was that I had never thought of this being the reason for not finding a match... that was a useful tip.



  6. Just to confirm I always perform(ed) Concordance searches with Ctrl+F3.
    This clearly explains why my experiences differs from Riccardo's :-)
    Sorry, I was not aware of this very sophisticated Studio setting! Thanks Paul for clarifying this.
    I will continue using my usual shortcut because it fits 98% of my needs, but now I know that there are two additional shortcuts I can use if I want to search elsewhere.

  7. Let me honest with you, I feel This software is little complicated compare to Wordfast, So i prefer to work on Wordfast

  8. Though I'm a Wordfast user and have never used Trados, I also had some problems when trying to find a TU I was sure I had translated before.
    The problem came when I was translating a few documents for a frequent client, in this case, ES>EN.
    The thing is, I was sure I had done some of them before, and since it's the same client and similar projects (it's an NGO) I had only one TM.
    Some of it had been translated into English, while some other into Spanish.
    The worst came when I analyzed and aligned the previous documents and still, nothing came up.

    In the end I took what I'm pretty sure was Riccardo's advice and installed XBench.

    Never lost a single translated TU again!


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