Quality Assurance tools (QA tools) are pieces of software that help to improve the quality of a text while speeding up the turnaround time of a project. QA tools allow translators to detect errors that can easily go unnoticed, even when a thorough revision is made. They are used to make a superficial revision of the text, as they don’t show whether there are meaning errors.
Dictionaries are incorporated into QA tools to detect, for example, typos. Moreover, through rules or settings, they help translators with punctuation problems. For example, these tools can detect when there are:
Another useful feature of QA tools is that they can be set up with specific rules to identify, for example, whether the translation contains a certain term which the client wishes to avoid, if there are potentially offensive words, or if the URLs were transferred when they were supposed to be localized, or vice versa.
A thing to keep in mind about QA tools is that sometimes they might flag false positives, so special attention has to be devoted to notice those cases where there seem to be errors but there aren’t. At the same time, we must take into consideration that we can be misled by false positives and introduce errors while trying to fix something that was not a mistake in the first place.
From built-in CAT tool QA features to individual QA tools, there are many options to choose from. Among the most used built-in QA tools we can mention Trados QA and memoQ QA. As for those that come in a single package, Xbench is one of the best known. Other examples of widely-used QA tools are Linguistic Toolbox, QA Distiller, and Verifika QA.
Xbench offers two versions: one of them is free (Xbench 2.9) and the other one (Xbench 3.0) uses a subscription license model. Whereas the former lacks some features and support for new file formats and doesn’t handle strings internally in Unicode, the latter is an updated and improved version that supports Unicode and works well with recent operating systems.
Open Xbench > Click Project > Select New.
Click the Add button to add files.
Select file type (in this case, Trados Studio File).
Click Next and then Add File and select the files.
Click Next again, select “Ongoing translation” and set Priority to “High”. Then click OK.
If you want to add a glossary to check the project terminology, this is the moment to do so. Click again on Add and select Trados Multiterm Glossary (if you are working in Trados and want to add a MultiTerm termbase):
Click Next, then Add file, select your MultiTerm termbase, then click Next again, select Key Terms and change the priority to High:
Then click Next and select source and target language. Then click OK.
Click OK and then OK again.
Select the QA tab and then click on Check Ongoing Translation.
Click View > Checklist Manager and then click on the green + icon:
Then select the checklist file and click Open. Wait until you see the entries of the checklist on screen, like this:
After that, go back to the QA tab and continue with the process as you would normally do.
After clicking on Check Ongoing Translation, you will see a list of potential issues, like this:
Go through all the issues to identify whether they are real issues (in which case you should go to the bilingual file to fix them) or false positives.
You can generate the Xbench report by right clicking on the list of issues and selecting Export QA results:
You will be able to select the location to save your report as well as to choose the file format (Excel, xml, txt or html).
Here are some convenient suggestions to consider when working with QA tools:
Be sure to allow enough time for the QA report as well as for the review stage. These processes may take you considerable time, depending on the project volume, the settings, the number of glossary terms (if any), among other factors.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, so it is advisable to check out any possible errors, warnings or mismatches before they are flagged by the QA tool. To do this, it is a good idea to enable the Auto-propagation feature in the CAT tool so that all identical source segments remain the same in the translation. To activate self-propagation in Trados:
In the upper-left corner, go to File > Options > Editor > Auto-propagation and select these options:
When reviewing the QA Report, Ctrl+F can be used to look for the phrase to be checked. However, when the text is slightly repetitive and there are many similar segments, it is better to check the segment number and go directly to it instead of using Ctrl+F. In Xbench, the segment number is shown below when you click on a segment, in parentheses, as shown in the picture (segment number 55 is underlined in red):
Xbench has a convenient option to directly edit a segment. In case a real error is identified in the list of potential issues, click on the segment and select “Edit Segment“, or use the shortcut “Ctrl+E“. This will take you directly to the segment in question in the bilingual file instead of wasting time looking for it.
After having corrected any relevant issues in the bilingual file, it is important to make sure that all real errors have been checked and corrected so that only false positives (if any) are shown in the report before sending the files to the client. To do this, right click on the list of files, select Refresh Content, and then click again on Check Ongoing Translation. The report will be refreshed and the errors that have already been corrected in the bilingual file will disappear.
Note: it is important to click Save in the bilingual file to make sure your changes are saved before selecting the Refresh Content option.
To ease the reading and review processes, Xbench allows you to “mark” and “unmark” potential errors. To do this, simply click on the potential error and select Mark/Unmark Issue, or press Ctrl+M. When an issue is marked, an X is displayed on the left, as shown here:
You can choose to show or hide the marked issues with the Show Marked or Hide Marked options in the Filter Issues box. For example, if you want to focus on real errors and hide false positives, select the Hide Marked option and as you go through the list, select those that are false positives and mark them (using Ctrl+M). In this way, they will disappear from the list.
It is also possible to do it the other way around: mark only those that you consider to be real errors and select the Show Marked option.
Note: When you use the Export QA Results command, the report will only include the issues that are displayed, i.e., if you click on “Hide Marked” and hide those issues, they won’t be included in the QA report, as it doesn’t export hidden issues).
In the Options menu, you can decide which segments to consider, whether you want to check only new segments, exclude ICE segments or locked ones, or check only segments with a 100% match or higher. Moreover, you can also use the option to detect case-sensitive inconsistencies, and also use the case-sensitive function for key terms. Finally, you can choose to ignore tags.
The Options menu comes in handy for ignoring irrelevant segments. For example, if you have 100% match words out of scope in a project, it is preferable that the report doesn’t detect them. In this way, you will be saving time by avoiding long reports with lots of entries that don’t need to be reviewed and you will only see the relevant issues corresponding to the segments that you have in scope.