SDL Passolo 2015 and localisation

We came swinging back into a new year and a new semester on the MAATS course at Leeds, diving into the world of localisation. Before getting stuck into SDL Passolo 2015, we discussed in class the role of a localisation engineer, and the internationalisation and localisation of software, touching on how a localisation project could be made more efficient. The idea is, software designed to be either simultaneously or eventually released in multiple locales will have a much smoother localisation process.

So, Passolo: what a marvellous tool! It extracts the text that needs translating, just as DVX3 or SDL Trados Studio did with simpler file types (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and so on). The translator is provided with “strings”, rather than “segments” as we had in the other tools. Basically, Passolo takes away scary, complicated software coding so us less tech-savvy translators do not need to struggle to understand which bits to translate, and avoid the risk of altering codes, thereby creating problems unnecessarily. Leave the coding to the experts, just as the translation should be left to us.

I loved Passolo’s preview box – my mind functions better with visual material, so for me being able to see each string in context actually helped me translate – no, localise. The preview box is a resource of even greater importance, though: the error message, “Button 2 in Dialog 11 301: Text does not fit to control size” occurred when my translation was longer than the ST, and so too big for the box in the original software. Selecting the “Dialogue” section of “Resources” in the left-hand tool bar allowed me to manually alter the box – sad and nerdy as it is, this functionality honestly blew my mind.

As I said, Passolo’s purpose is to remove the translatable text from the software coding. Access Keys and Shortcut Keys are still a part of the translator’s job, but it took little explanation to understand how they work[1]. In this day-in-age, some Shortcut keys are pretty standard, making for a fairly easy localisation process, but I would be keen to discover whether this is the case with more complicated programmes than we have involved ourselves in so far.

SDL Passolo does not work with TMs[2], but linking up the Translation Assistant functionality to glossaries and MT add-ins was extremely helpful. Firstly, you can receive terminology suggestions from a glossary (useful, if you are lucky enough to have a good one!) and MT plug-ins obviously have their uses. Although you cannot use a TM within Passolo, I was able to export my translated strings to an existing TM using the SDL Trados Studio plug-in. I assume this can be done with all versions of Trados, but if any readers know whether it is possible to connect Passolo to other CAT tools, please do comment below.

On the other hand, I was initially really annoyed by the ST strings being automatically inserted into the TT. Once I got used to the changing text colour (red for text that has not been translated, blue for translated but needs reviewing and black for verified translations) this was not too much of an issue… but I still disliked it. Perhaps readers will be able to confirm whether this can be switched off or not.

Being able to make strings “Read-only” or “Hidden” is a great tool, especially for PMs although it is a bit of a faff to have to reopen the strings for them to be updated. That said, if you are preparing a bundle as a PM it is unlikely you would be opening the strings to translate yourself. This means the saved changes would be opened by the translator in their updated state anyway There is almost a lack of a review function in Passolo. With SDL Trados Studio we saw that packages could be set a task, such as “to be translated” or “- proofread”. In our project, I was simply receiving a translated bundle to look at. Comments can be left, but I would have liked something along the lines of a “track changes” functionality.

As you can see, I am almost clutching at straws to think of things I did not like about Passolo. This probably has a lot to do with our project having been relatively short and simple – for the “freelancers” anyway. All in all, I was surprised by how far Passolo went in aiding the localisation of software: allowing you to adjust box sizes, for example, was something I assumed would have to be changed somewhere in the deepest darkest depths of the software’s coding. Yet I imagine more complicated software, not built with the intent to localise it would limit what Passolo can do to help the process. I hope to generate a discussion below and encourage more dialogue on the software, so potential readers and I might continue to gain more insight into the product.

And on that note I am signing off – open the discussion!

[1] The letter following an ampersand will be indicated as the Access Key for that menu item and each Access Key must be unique within a menu; Shortcut Keys require a combination of keys (usually Ctrl + a letter) and are unique within the entire programme.

[2] Edit 24/02/2015: this is not actually true – “It is actually possible to connect SDL Passolo to a SDL Trados Studio TM (which means that Passolo will use it as a “live” TM in pre-translation and fuzzy matching). You can set this up in Translation Helpers – Fuzzy Matching as well as Translation Helpers – Pre-translation. So it’s not necessarily required to export strings.” – Daniel Brockman, 24/02/2015. See comments below this post for more information.


  1. Hello Kirsty, great blog article! I am the product manager for SDL Passolo and would just like to comment on two aspects:
    – It is actually possible to connect SDL Passolo to a SDL Trados Studio TM (which means that Passolo will use it as a “live” TM in pre-translation and fuzzy matching). You can set this up in Translation Helpers – Fuzzy Matching as well as Translation Helpers – Pre-translation. So it’s not necessarily required to export strings. I used this the other day when I did a small software localization job in Passolo (English-German) ;).
    – I believe that inserting source strings into the target field when no translation is found is by design and cannot be switched off. Many translators prefer this way of working as often the target string will be similar to the source and then you only need to make major changes. But especially for longer strings I agree that it can be annoying to first have to delete the target text and then start typing. Maybe this is something we can consider for future improvement.
    Thanks again for this article, I am always happy to read about Passolo! 🙂
    Best regards, Daniel Brockmann (SDL)


    1. Hi Daniel

      Thanks for your reply – it’s always great to know people are reading, and especially great to get a response from someone with your authority on the matter!

      Thank you for clarifying how a TM can be used on the product, too, I will certainly have a play with this as well as inserting an ‘edit’ into my blog entry to make this clear.

      I agree, I know a lot of people prefer to type over the ST when translating – perhaps I should have emphasised this was a personal preference. With software it’s also more common for a segment to be identical in the ST and TT. But perhaps, as you suggested, making this optional might be a good future tweak to the software.

      Thanks again for reading.



    2. Daniel – if I were to remark that Passolo originally did not work with TMs because the software was developed before they had really come to the forefront of CAT technology, but that now it is possible (for the reasons you explained below), would you consider that to be accurate?

      All the best



      1. Hi Kirsty,

        I would probably say that that would not be entirely accurate. Rather Passolo actually has an internal TM, but it has always been called ‘glossary’. So you could argue that this is confusing matters somewhat as the terminology used in the product is not fully consistent with the concept of ‘TM’ used in other products. When development on Passolo started, TM technology was already pretty commonplace but in the software localization world, the term TM was not used; this came later when connectivity to TM products was introduced. In summary, both Passolo internal glossaries as well as CAT tool TMs can be used and live happily side by side.

        Hope this clarifies,

        Liked by 1 person

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