SDL Trados Studio 2019: Avoiding Featuritis

Thanksgiving in 2019
6th November 2019
SDL Trados Studio features in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017
9th November 2019

SDL Trados Studio 2019: Avoiding Featuritis

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has just been released and I’m delighted to announce that it’s not full of new features! Most improvements focus on refining existing functions and enhancing accessibility. In short, it’s all about making Studio easier for beginners and experienced users alike.

Splash screen

The very first time you open Studio 2019, you’ll see a welcome screen with two buttons: Get Started (a 10-minute video for beginners) and See What’s New. That’s cool – Studio tells you what you need to know, just when you want it.

Useful Tips

What’s New is just one of a series of Useful Tips or pop-up cards that give you a nugget of information about one particular feature. They’re short and to the point: just two or three sentences, a few words in bold and a link, sometimes, to a pdf or a video.

Useful Tips are displayed in the language you’ve chosen for your Studio interface (select DE, EN, ES, FR, KO, IT, RU or ZH in View > User Interface Language). Many of the videos have also been localised.

Access to Useful Tips 

To access these tips at any time, go to the Help tab and click the Useful tips collection icon in the ribbon. You can browse through all cards here by selecting See All and then clicking the right arrow. If you prefer to read the tips in context, go to a specific window, such as the Welcome window, click the Useful Tips pop-out on the far right and see the relevant tips for that part of Studio:

I’d like to see this functionality expanded to shorter bite-size tips that appear at random on start-up. Pop-up tips are a great way of discovering more features in a program, as long as there’s an option to turn them off for people who don’t want too much noise. In the meantime, you can find a pretty comprehensive list of Studio’s features here.

Tell me what you want to do

The idea of the Tell Me function is to give users quicker access to Studio’s huge range of 700 commands and 1300 settings. (See why we didn’t need more features in this new release?!) You may already be familiar with “Tell Me” if you have the latest version of MS Office, where it was introduced in 2016.

If you’re not sure how to create a project, add a file, change font size, save a document, filter for a word or merge segments, now you can click  at the top right above the ribbon (or press Alt+Q, the same shortcut for Tell Me in Word 2016) and start typing a keyword. Studio will offer you relevant commands or settings to point you in the right direction. There’s even a direct link to the Help files at the bottom of the window, which will take you straight to the relevant Help section for more details.

If you use a German, French, Spanish, Japanese or Chinese interface, you can type your keywords in that language or in English to get suggestions.

Tell Me is smart, too. It offers suggestions in context, so irrelevant ones will be greyed out. Tell Me also offers options for your current project (and no others), as well as general settings. And it’ll do fuzzy searches too:

Tell Me isn’t only useful for beginners. Advanced users can save time clicking through options. For example, to update a field in a TM in a current project, I used to have to click Project settings>Language Pairs>All Language Pairs>Translation Memory>Update. Now I can just enter “update” in the Tell Me box and select the right option.

Tell Me isn’t perfect yet. Sometimes options are greyed out when they should be available. (You can’t add a comment through Tell Me because it’s greyed out by mistake.) Also, some language-specific options buried deep in options (e.g., measurements and dates) aren’t accessible.

Finally, you need to be fairly familiar with Studio jargon, so if you want to increase font size, it’s no good typing “zoom”. It’s worth noting that if SDL sees a lot of people typing a certain word into Tell Me, they’ll be able to add that to the search list results. How will they know? Click the Customer Feedback icon in the Help tab and agree to let SDL collect  anonymous information to help solve bugs and expand the Tell Me dictionary!*

* Thanks to Paul Filkin for this info.

Redesigned project wizard

Before, creating a new project was quite time consuming, with endless windows appearing one after another and lots of settings to decide on. Now, as soon as you click Ctrl+N or “New Project” on the ribbon, you’re offered a one-step window and you can simply add a file for translation and click Finish. Simple! All the settings are carried over from your general options (so before you do anything else, make sure they’re defined to suit your workflow – check them under File>Options).

(Click the image to see an enlarged version)

You can of course tweak settings before clicking Finish. Make any changes you need in the one-step window. For example, change the project name or path, source or target language. To change the target language, click the pencil icon and use the dropdown menu or type in the language with autocomplete or the ISO code (e.g., EN-GB).

You’ll see a 9-stop metro map along the top. Click any “station” to change the relevant setting. After clicking Finish or Preparation, the new project will be prepared behind the scenes and a success message will appear. Don’t worry if not all steps are marked as complete; Studio just reports the stations you stopped at.

The metro map design has been implemented in most wizards in Studio, so you’ll see it when you create a new TM or autosuggest dictionary. In the future, I’d like to see a one-step termbase creation wizard in Multiterm, because termbases are still beyond the comfort zone for many users and the simplified metro map design could help solve that.

SDL has calculated that it takes 28% fewer clicks to create a new project in Studio 2019. I suppose that depends how much you tweak the streamlined wizard, but I certainly agree it’s much faster and user friendly!

Project updates

If, like me, you keep several projects on the go for different subjects or clients, you’ll add new files to a project almost every day.

Quick add new file

Before, adding a new file to an existing project took multiple clicks. It was tricky too, because you had to decide which batch task to run and then check you were in the target language view to start translating.

Now, simply click the Add File icon in the ribbon, add one or more new files and the whole process will run in the background.

If you want to tweak the default batch task settings, click the dropdown arrow beside the Add File icon in the ribbon and select Add files and Run Custom Batch Tasks.

Update file

Quite often, you’re already busy working on a translation when your client sends you a new version of the file. Before, I used to add the revised version as a new file and pretranslate it with the TM. Now, you can close the original file version in the Editor window, go to the file in the source or target language list, right click and select “Update File” (in the screenshot you can see I’ve added a customised shortcut, Ctrl+U).

The Update File is clever because PerfectMatch runs in the background, so any draft segments in the sdlxliff file will also be remembered.

Note that a new version of a file often has v.1rev or someone’s initials appended to the file name. Studio will not rename the source or sdlxliff file in the project, but will keep a back-up of the original version and append (1) to it. So when you save the final target file, remember to rename it accordingly if you want it to reflect the updated filename.

Improved quality assurance

QA checks always used to be set indistinctly for all languages. Now, you can define these settings for specific language pairs. Change these settings at a global level (File>Options>Language Pairs>[specific pair]>Verification>QA Checker 3.0) or in a current project (Project settings> Language Pairs>[specific pair]>Verification>QA Checker 3.0).

Note that only language-sensitive parameters (punctuation, numbers, word list and regex) are offered in the language pair section.

 Verify Files

You can run a QA check on translated files in the Editor by clicking F8 (Verify Document) or by creating a QA report in the Files window by right clicking the file(s) and selecting Batch tasks>Verify Files. Those two options still exist in Studio 2019, but now the QA report also displays the source and target segments where each error occurs, making it easier to identify real errors and ignore false positives.

Double click any segment number to correct that segment in the Editor window.

I’d like to see the source-target info displayed not just in the Report view but also in the Messages window in the Editor, because running Verify Files is now an extra step in my workflow, which entails leaving the Editor and having Studio re-open the file to correct any errors if necessary.

Still, we now have an extra safeguard before delivering a translation; it just needs to be in a more accessible place to be really useful.

Translation Memories window navigation

In the Translation Memories window, new buttons have been added to the ribbon to improve navigation:

  • Browse to the last page
  • Browse to a specific page
  • Display up to 1000 translation units (TUs) per page
  • See total number of pages in the TM

We’ve been asking for a “last page” navigation button in the Translation Memories view for years. Studio 2019 now has one! This is now the quickest way of reaching the most recently-added segments in a TM.*

The new 1000-TU display is also useful for find and replace operations. Up to Studio 2017, a maximum of just 200 TUs were displayed. On my machine, however, Studio is sluggish moving from page to page with the maximum 1000-TU display, and I find a 500-TU display works best for me.

One benefit of the total page number information is that you can see at a glance how big a TM is by multiplying the total page numbers by TUs per page. In the screenshot above, I can see that my TM has 102,000 segments.

*Good news for Studio 2017 users too: you can now add the Last Page button to the Navigation Group on the ribbon yourself (go to Translation Memories>View>Ribbon Customization).


Here are a few bits and bobs that are new or reworked in Studio 2019:

  • In project settings, the wording to allow segment merging has been improved. Until now, ticking “disable merging segments across paragraphs” was confusing. Now, ticking “enable merging” is much easier to understand:
  • For upLIFT Match Repair, termbases can now be excluded as a provider. To change this setting, go to General Options or Project Settings, Language pair>Match Repair.
  • An MS Visio file type is now available out of the box (previously available as a plug-in)
  • Some Studio icons have a clearer presence than before. Others, such as the termbase, help and info icons, have been redesigned. 

For a full list of improvements and changes, see the SDL Trados Studio 2019 Release Notes

Backward compatibility

Studio 2019 is fully compatible with older versions and vice versa. I’m using translation memories, bilingual sdlxliff files and termbases created in 2017 in the new version without problems, and have created and processed Studio 2017 and 2019 packages in both versions. In theory, you can also transfer legacy projects and your user profile to 2019, but I prefer to start with a fresh installation, so can’t confirm how they respond.

Studio apps

As always, you’ll have to re-install any plug-ins in your new Studio version. In fact, this time round, Studio apps have had to be adapted to run in Studio 2019, so make sure you download the right version from the SDL AppStore and don’t try to cut corners by copying legacy downloads into 2019 file paths. Scores of apps have been updated already, but others won’t work yet in Studio 2019. I’m eagerly waiting for the Glossary Plug-In and Regex Match Autosuggest Provider to be updated.

Upgrading to Studio 2019


I recommend downloading SDL Trados Studio 2019 and running it in demo mode for 30 days. That will give you time to finish projects in your old version and set up fresh projects in the new version. Studio 2019 will be available in the Downloads area of your account even if you haven’t upgraded your current version yet. Don’t forget to download Multiterm 2019 too.


If you have a support agreement or bought Studio 2017 after 31st March 2018, the upgrade will already be in your account, waiting to be processed. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase an upgrade. To process the upgrade to Studio 2019, go to the Licenses area of your account and click the blue banner: “You have 1 upgrade available”.

If you have a freelance version, don’t deactivate your current Studio 2017 license! The old version will continue to work if you don’t deactivate it or change computers. In fact, with the upcoming Studio 2017 SR1 Cumulative Update 12, which will be released in a few days, you’ll even be able to reinstall Studio 2017 on a new computer alongside Studio 2019.

If you have Studio 2015, I understand you won’t be able to run it side by side after upgrading, so running Studio 2019 as a demo for a month before upgrading makes even more sense. If you have Studio 2014, I understand you will be able to run it side by side after upgrading. (Check the SDL Trados Studio 2019 Release Notes to make sure.)

Upgrades aren’t available for Studio 2011 and earlier; upgrades from Studio 2014 are available only until 31st December 2018 (end-of-life date for Studio 2014).

All in all, It is recommended upgrading to Studio 2019. The redesigned project wizard alone makes it worthwhile for all users, beginners and advanced alike. Enjoy!

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