Felix Memory Serves

Memory Serves manual online

The Memory Serves manual is now online.

The manual provides more detailed information about Memory Serves and how to use it. I’ll be adding to this manual continually, so if you have any questions about using Memory Serves, let me know!

Felix Memory Serves

Memory serves version 1.2 released

I’ve just released version 1.2 of Memory Serves.

Download the latest version here.

In addition to some minor bug fixes (like a problem adding records with non-ascii characters in the context field), version 1.2 of Memory Serves includes a new program called Memory Importer:

Memory Importer window

Uploading large memories or glossaries to Memory Serves would sometimes cause a time out error; you can use this application to import your translation memory (.ftm/.xml) and glossary (*.fgloss/.xml) files into Memory Serves, without worrying about time outs.

To launch Memory Importer, go to the Start menu, then select All Programs >> Memory Serves >> Memory Importer.

Next, simply select a memory or glossary file, then click Import. You can also edit the meta information about the memory, such as the source language, creator, or client, or add notes about the memory.

Note that you have to run Memory Importer on the computer where Memory Serves is installed. It can’t import memories over the network (yet).

About Memory Serves

Memory Serves is a free application that shares Felix translation memories and glossaries over a local network, allowing multiple translators to share their TMs/glossaries in real time. Translations added to the memory by one translator are available to the other translators instantly.

This is great when several translators are working on the same project, when you have a company-wide standard glossary, or any time you need to share a memory/glossary that is still being added to.

Memory Serves creates a Web server on your local machine using the open-source cherrypy framework. This server is visible within your LAN or VLAN only; it’s not visible to the entire Internet. The IP address it uses is that of your own computer.


How much information to collect from users

I’m starting to roll out a “check online for updates” feature for my various applications. So far, it’s implemented for TagAssist and Count Anything, and I’m gradually adding it to my other applications as I upgrade them.

I thus think that this is a good time to review my policy on collecting information from users. Right now, I use Google Analytics to track visitors to my site: things like what pages they visit, how long they stay on the site, what files they download, and what keywords they used to find the site. I don’t track individual users, but only trends to help me improve the site (like, a lot of visitors are searching for the keyword “PowerPoint”; I ought to add some content about translating PowerPoint files). I also never share this information with third parties (this is basically detailed in this site’s privacy policy).

I think that it’s pretty reasonable to collect this information, especially because I don’t track any individuals. At any rate, almost all the information I get through Google Analytics (and more) would be available from my Apache log files anyway.

But what about checking online? Even if Felix doesn’t send any information, the mere fact of connecting to my server tells me that somebody is running my software, and from the user’s IP address, I could tell a lot more (like link that IP address to the IP addresses of people who have downloaded the software — presto, download-to-install ratio).

So collecting that information could be useful to me, and it doesn’t violate my privacy policy. Even so, I’ve decided not to do it, because my users are checking online for updates: they’re not connecting to my server in order to feed me statistics, and I don’t think it’s reasonable for them to expect that.

Some other software makers are quite strident about “capturing” user information. Many will force you to give an email address before even allowing you to download their software, or make you contact them in order to get a price. They call people like me foolish to not grab every “lead” I can. I strongly suspect that most such companies are run by graduates of marketing or business programs, and not software developers.

But to me, it’s not about what you can do, or what will earn you the most money in the short term, or even what you can get away with. I prefer to be as open and transparent about my activities as possible, and if some action strikes me as sleazy or shady, I’d rather just avoid it.

Felix release

Felix version 1.4.5 released

I’ve just released version 1.4.5 of Felix.

Download the latest version here.

This release consists mainly of bug fixes, with a few changes to improve performance, and some new features.

For a full list of changes, see What’s New in the Felix manual.

Felix Other tools

Using Copilot to diagnose and fix problems on users’ computers

I just finished using Fog Creek’s Copilot for the first time with a Felix user, and I must say that I’m impressed.

Using Copilot, I was able to remotely control the user’s desktop from my own computer. In a few minutes, I was able to run through most of the possible issues, eventually finding the problem (the user had been using an older version of Felix, and the Felix interface for Word had apparently crashed, because Word had disabled the Felix add-in).

From experience with other users, running through the kind of checklist I just completed using email or the telephone would have been extremely difficult, if possible at all. Copilot made it very easy to get in, find the problem, fix it, and get out while the user went for coffee. Very nice!


Some of my favorite user-inspired new features in Felix

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!

Felix release

Felix version 1.4.4 released

I’ve just made a quick release of version 1.4.4 of Felix in order to fix two bugs: one had to do with glossary lookup, and the other had to do with a GUI bug in the Memory Manager dialog.

Get the latest version here.

Felix release

Felix version 1.4.3 released

I’ve just released version 1.4.3 of Felix.

Download the latest version here.

Below are some of the main changes and improvements in version 1.4.3.

  • Bug fix: When you edited a record, the match text sometimes got duplicated
  • Users can now customize user names (Preferences >> General tab).
  • Each translation record (or translation unit: TU) has a creator and modified-by field
  • Bug fix: Added .ftm and .fgloss file extension filters for Memory/Glossary manager dialogs
  • Bug fix: Cleanup Menus would fail if PowerPoint or Excel was not installed
  • Bug fix: The Save As dialog for the glossary window did not save glossaries in other than fgloss format.
  • Press CTRL + ALT + F9 to toggle shortcuts between enabled and disabled in Word. Each time the shortcuts are toggled, there is a system beep. Any other bindings to CTRL + ALT + F9 are preserved.
  • CONTROL+ALT+↑ corrects the current translation in Word, even in translation mode
  • Bug fix: The Office programs would sometimes stay in memory after quitting
  • Translation history is now disabled by default

For a full list of changes, see What’s New in the Felix manual.


What are these “.fhist” files next to my MS Word files?

If you’ve installed Felix version 1.4 or later, you might notice that “.fhist” files are created next to your MS Word or Excel files when you translate them. This is due to a new feature of Felix called translation history. Translation history makes it easier to revise your translations, and reflect your edits in your translation memory. For details about translation history, see here for Word and here for Excel.

If you don’t need this feature or don’t want these files to be created, then you can disable translation history in the preferences.

In Word, from the Felix menu select Felix Preferences, then go to the “Translation History” tab and clear the checkbox.

In Excel, go to Felix >> User Preferences, and do the same.

Felix release

Felix version 1.4.2 released

I’ve just released version 1.4.2 of Felix. This new version includes several improvements and new features requested by users, a few bug fixes, and improved support for some older Windows configurations.

Download the latest version of Felix.

The main new features and improvements are described below. See the manual for a full list of changes and improvements.

Separate file extensions for memories and glossaries

Felix translation memory and glossary files now have separate file extensions. By default, translation memories are saved with the “.ftm” extension, and glossary files are saved with the “.fgloss” extension. You can still use files with the old “.xml” extension, and save TMs and glossaries as “.xml” files.

New feature: profiles

You can now save user profiles in Felix. This is handy when you have multiple different sets of memories/glossaries, that you want to load in different situations (e.g. depending on the client).

Save your current profile
Select Tools >> Save Preferences.
Load an existing profile
Select Tools >> Load Preferences.

The following information is saved:

  • Translation memory files
  • Glossary files
  • User preferences
  • Window size and position
  • Text zoom level

New feature: improved zooming

With previous versions of Felix, you could control the zoom level of text using the CTRL + Mouse Wheel combination. Now there’s a zoom dialog box to give more fine-grained control over the zoom level. To display the Zoom dialog, select View >> Zoom… from the menu.

Using the zoom dialog box to control the text zoom level

When you start Felix, the last zoom level you used is restored.