Archive for January 20th, 2009

Some of my favorite user-inspired new features in Felix

Jan. 20th 2009

I’m a professional translator, and I use Felix in my work. Actually using the software you make is called “eating one’s own dog food” (or “dogfooding”), and it’s a great way to improve the quality and usability of software (you might also be surprised to find out how rare it is — or not surprised, depending on your cynical bent).

While dogfooding does help make software a lot better, it also has two main weaknesses/blind spots:

  1. You get used to doing things certain ways, so tend not to notice other ways of doing things that are buggy or inconvenient
  2. You get so used to doing things one way that you don’t think of better ways of doing them

This is why user feedback is so important. I actually love it when users tell me things that they don’t like about Felix, or things that need improving. Firstly, I know that if one person takes the trouble to send me feedback, there are at least 10 other users feeling the same pain. Secondly, getting a new perspective on my “baby” can help me see new opportunities for improvement.

I just got finished doing a fairly large (200-page) translation, and I noticed that three new Felix features inspired by users were really convenient and made my work easier. I’ll list them below.

F6 to toggle between match and concordance views
Inspired by: Charles Aschmann
This is such a simple feature, that I’m amazed at how much time it saves me. When a translation match is displayed in the Felix window, you can select some arbitrary text in the query or translation, and press ALT + C (for source) or CTRL + ALT + C (for translation) to get the concordance for it — basically, find out how that string is used in context in other translation memory entries. That’s easy, but before it was cumbersome to get back to the match view. Being able to press F6 to quickly toggle between the match and concordance views made this feature a lot easier to use — and thus I find myself using it more and more often.
Saving profiles
Inspired by: Sako Eaton
This is great when I’m working on two jobs in parallel. I can save all my currently loaded TMs, glossaries, and settings in a profile, and then when I switch jobs, I can load the profile for that job to close all my current TMs/glossaries, and open the ones for that profile.
CTRL + Up to correct translations
Inspired by: Charles Aschmann
This feature also saved me some time. Before, when working in Word and I needed to correct a translation in the TM, I would have to either do it directly in the Felix window, or switch to Review mode in Word. Now, I can just correct the translation, and press CTRL + Up Arrow to correct the translation in the TM.

To Felix users: keep that feedback coming, it’s very much appreciated!

Posted by Ryan Ginstrom | in Felix | 1 Comment »
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