SDL Trados

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SDL Trados
SDL-Trados-Technologies log.png
Developer(s) SDL Trados
Stable release SDL Trados Studio 2014 / September 2013
Operating system Windows
Type Computer-assisted translation
License Commercial

SDL Trados is a computer-assisted translation software suite,[1] originally developed by the German company Trados GmbH and currently available from SDL International, a provider of translation management software, content management and language services. It provides translation memory and terminology management.


Trados GmbH was founded as a language service provider (LSP) in 1984 by Jochen Hummel and Iko Knyphausen in Stuttgart, Germany.[2] The company began developing translation software in the late 1980s, and released the first Windows versions of two of the suite's major components in the early 1990s – MultiTerm in 1992, and Translator's Workbench in 1994. In 1997, the company received a major boost when Microsoft decided to use Trados for its internal localization needs.[2] By the end of the 1990s, it had become the clear market leader in desktop translation memory software.[citation needed]

Trados was acquired by SDL in 2005.[3]


As of 2014, the freelance and professional edition of SDL Trados contained four principal components:

SDL Trados Studio
An application for translating files, creating and managing translation memories, for automated project creation and automated translation.
SDL MultiTerm
A terminology management tool (separate application) that interacts with SDL Trados translation environments.
SDL Passolo Essential
A software localization tool that enables the translation of user interfaces.
SDL Trados 2007 Suite
This is an older tool set based on other interface paradigms. Since the launch of SDL Trados Studio 2014 it is no longer included in the SDL Trados Studio product, but remains in widespread use.

Studio also contains a specialized tool for translating graphic interfaces and one for aligning source documents with existing translations. Additional functionality, such as further file format support, task automation and connectivity to automated translation is provided through apps accessible through a platform called SDL OpenExchange.

Supported source document formats[edit]

SDL Trados Studio 2014 supports over 70 different file types,[4] including: various markup and tagged formats such as SGML, XML, HTML, XLIFF, SDLXLIFF (Studio's native format for translation), OpenDocument files; straight text files; source code files, such as Java and Microsoft .NET; Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; and some Adobe file formats, such as PDF, FrameMaker, InDesign, and InCopy.

Handling of translation memories and glossaries[edit]

The translation memory (TM) format of Trados is SDLTM, which consists in a particular SQLite database.[5]

When creating a new (file-based) translation memory, SDL Trados Studio creates a database file in which all translation units are stored. The translation memory also stores structural and context information to link all the different segments and their position in a document. This allows the tool to select the most relevant translation memory segment.

  • Main translation memory database file: .sdltm

In previous version of Trados a neural network of files that enable fuzzy search capability was also created. A new translation memory consists of five new files:

  • Main translation memory database file: .tmw
  • Neural network files: .mdf, *.mtf, *.mwf, *.iix

When copying a translation memory, you must copy all five translation memory files. Otherwise, Translator's Workbench displays an error message when opening the copied translation memory.

Trados can also work with server-based translation memories.

Glossaries are handled by the MultiTerm application. Glossaries can be bilingual or multi-lingual.

Integration of Machine Translation and Post-Editing[edit]

Trados Studio 2011 has integrated machine translation and postediting into its translation workflow. If the appropriate parameter setting is made, Trados will insert a machine translation of a translation unit (TU) if no match is found in the translation memory. The translator can then post-edit the machine translation for added clarity. SDL Trados currently supports the following MT systems: Language Weaver, SDL BeGlobal, and Google Translate. Trados also supports the integration of Microsoft Translator and other MT system through its open API and plugin architecture on the SDL OpenExchange.

SDL OpenExchange[edit]

In December 2010 SDL launched the SDL OpenExchange, a web portal allowing independent developers to leverage the software's open architecture to create applications and plug-ins for SDL Trados Studio.[6] Apps can be downloaded to add functionality missing from the base product, such as legacy file support and new machine translation plugins.[7] As of 15 December 2011 over 25,000 apps have been downloaded.[8]

Market share[edit]

According to a 2004 survey by the World Bank, Trados held an estimated 75% global market share with SDL holding an additional 10%.[1]

According to the ICU Translation Memory Survey from 2006, SDL Trados is used by a total of 75% of surveyed users - 51% used Trados with a further 24% SDL Trados (See table 21).[9]

Documentation and help[edit]

SDL Trados manuals can be downloaded online from the company's website. Basic training is available in the form of webinars delivered free of charge on a monthly basis, while there is also onsite training at SDL and partner (Authorized Training Center) locations. A calendar can be found on in the Event section. Educational videos can be found on


SDL Trados has been criticized for various issues such as lack of backward compatibility.[10]

A number of solutions have been created to be able to handle the different versions of Trados file formats,[11] but the process is not foolproof. SDL did apparently respond to user complaints of licensing complexity and problems by simplifying the licensing scheme used in the SDL Trados Studio 2011 Freelance release.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Translation Memory Survey 2004" (PDF). Localization Industry Standards Association (registration required). Retrieved 19 January 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b Garcia, Ignacio. "Long term memories: Trados and TM turn 20". The Journal of Specialized Translation. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  3. ^ DePalma, Donald A. (July 2005). "SDL-TRADOS: Language Service Provider Reaction to SDL’s Purchase of TRADOS" (PDF). Globalization & Localization Association. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 
  4. ^ "SDL Trados Studio 2011 Languages and Filters". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  5. ^ SDL SDK API Help files
  6. ^ SDL Plc. "Third-party Applications Arrive on SDL OpenExchange!". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  7. ^ SDL Trados. "Introducing the SDL OpenExchange". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  8. ^ SDL Plc. "Successful First Year for SDL OpenExchange Recruiting 300 Developers and Surpassing 25,000 Downloads". Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  9. ^ "Imperial College London Translation Memories Survey" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  10. ^ "How to run SDL Trados 2006 on Windows Vista and Windows 7". Trados How-To. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  11. ^ "Using & Installing Multiple Versions of Trados on the Same Computer". Trados How-To. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  12. ^ "SDL Trados Studio 2011 Freelance: What's New?". "bottom of page". Retrieved 2012-05-25. Faster installation and simpler licensing - Designed to get you up and running quicker, plus you can now activate either online or offline. 

External links[edit]