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Current Terminology Management Systems: designed to make you think hard

Current TMSs have been developed according to the requirements defined by ISO standards for terminology management systems. Nevertheless, the process of creating a new entry is still very time-consuming.

A couple of weeks ago, I have been contacted because of a post I wrote years ago on this blog (I guess they read this: How would a collaborative platform improve terminology work?). 
Dear Maria, I read your blog article and just wanted to let you know we are building the collaborative terminology system you envisioned at the very moment. It would be a pleasure to get in touch to see if you want to test and send some feedback on our current status!
Well, we scheduled a video call in the following days, during which they showed me the platform in progress and some mockups about a few future features they expected to implement. What I was shown looked very promising indeed - since that old post influenced somebody, I also felt encouraged to write another post about the platform to discuss how I think it would work best. The previous post focused on the collaborative aspect of the tool; this time I chose to focus on the aspects that were missing in the platform demo: mainly, the lack of mandatory fields.
Mandatory fields are crucial for creating a new entry but also very useful to limit the amount of time spent while actually creating a new term entry. Terminology requires a lot of efforts and precision – don’t we know that by now? – but it has to be done, regardless. So my question is: could a platform help us invest less time whilst still allowing us to deliver a good job? Let’s have a look into it.
Current needs of the users (this is real feedback I’ve gathered from seminars and other events I attended):
  • The insertion of terms should take place WHILE translating, considering that the whole translation process is often carried out within a VERY short period of time. After the translation project is completed, terminology work is either forgotten or kicked to the curb for an unknown future.
  • The interface of Terminology Managements Systems currently on the market discourage translators/terminologists forcing them to invest a large part of their time to create term records. And in translation, we know there is no time to waste. The result? Nobody really finds the time for terminology (I heard that one trillion times over).
How can we make the process of term entry creation faster and easier?
Well, by managing the terminology data on the principle of: “as much as necessary and as little as possible”, whilst still complying with the “minimum requirements” set for a terminological entry.
I’ll show you how it could be implemented in few steps below:
· Set the minimum mandatory fields for the entries
· Let the reference/bibliographical resources be automatically filled by the system through automatic metadata insertion
· Have a user-friendly GUI, suitable also for non-expert users.

Here’s a possible solution
Translators/terminologists should be allowed to invest as little time as possible creating entries that comply with all terminological requirements. By setting minimum mandatory data categories, translators can create new entries in a handful of minutes; any optional fields can then be filled at a later stage, reducing the hindrance.
ISO 12620 (Terminology in computer applications – Data categories) lists almost 200 possible data categories for a terminological entry, whilst ISO 12616 considers only three as mandatory: term, term source and entry date.
According to LISA (Localization Industry Standards Association), whenever the Translation Management System is to be used exclusively by humans (not machine processed), it must include either a definition or a context.
Designating certain fields to be mandatory can be problematic. For instance, it may take considerable time and effort to find definitions and contexts, discuss them, and enter them into the Translation Management System. It may be more productive to allow for this information to be added later.

Creating a new Data Entry Interface
The system should guide the user to enter the term first, then the term reference, context, and other Term Level data, then the definition and other Language Level data, and finally the Entry Level data (domains, etc.). Data categories can be designated either in compliance with ISO 12620 or with user-specific needs in mind.
A ‘create new entry’ tab should provide three mandatory fields: term, term source, and entry date. A terminological entry would not be saved if a mandatory field is empty (important for validation). Any remaining data category can be grouped in an ‘Optional data categories’ field.
An auto-save functionality should ensure that data isn’t lost if technical problems occur. A query suggestion system warning that the entry is already in the system (important for preventing duplicates, more details below).

Embedding an external source in reference fields
By inserting the URL of the external source, the system could convert the URL into embedded content. An embedded content is a rich article preview (name of the website, title of the page, etc.). This system is in use in several websites for content curation. The quality of the embedded content depends on the quality of the source website: the better the content is indexed, the more precise will be the preview; otherwise, the user has to edit/correct the data.

So, what is your opinion?
  • Do you use Terminology Managements Systems?
  • Do you hate/love them?
  • What is your favourite tool?
  • What’s favourite functionality?
  • What do you hate the most about them?
  • What function do you really need but is missing in the tools on the market?

Feel free to contact me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to talk about it :D

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You are doing terminology management all wrong. Here is why

We all know the never-ending, love-hate relationship between translators and terminology… now, let’s explore some of the most common errors.
Generally speaking, when thinking of terminology, we imagine a glossary, made of two parallel columns full of terms, with the source language on one side and the target language on the other.


And what better than an Excel file for this type of structure? Seems easy and intuitive enough. Plus, you can also add an extra column to the right, to add comments or other notes.

Well, there’s something wrong here: Excel was never designed to store text, much less terminological data.

Yes, you guessed it… Excel was created to crunch numbers, not words!

Using Excel files is not an effective or efficient way to manage complex databases. If you use it to create glossaries as mentioned above, you will not be able to specify additional attributes for those terms. It is indeed possible to add extra columns but always limited to one field or category for ea…