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Transware Plc

Is where I used to work.

Transware's main business function is localisation of e-learning courses, whether they be CBT or WBT. So they deal in all sorts of flashy multimedia, from Flash and Director, to streaming audio and video, to simple HTML, gifs and jpgs. Major customers include Microsoft, Smartforce, Oracle* and the U.N.

I've been with Transware since August 1999. I started out as a Technical Integrator, basically integrating localised files into the product, and doing innumerable QA and bug-fixing passes over the product. Transware localise into almost every language imaginable, from the familiar FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish), to every variety of Latin American Spanish and Portuguese, to extremely difficult languages like Traditional Chinese and Arabic, and fairly obscure languages like Tagalog. They have a few in-house linguistics people, for compiling glossaries and the like, but the actual translations are done, as far as possible, by translation vendors in the target country.

After several months as a TI, I moved to Transware's Sales Evaluation department. Transware have several sales offices in the U.K., Paris, and the U.S. The sales team deliver sample e-learning content to the Sales Evaluation team for quotation. The Eval engineer evaluates the courseware based on the complexity, wordcount, graphical text count, and content type (i.e. is it HTML, Director, Word docs, etc.), and generates a price quotation on a per-language basis. The usual languages requested are FIGS (see above), LASP (Latin American SPanish), Japanese, one of the two flavours of chinese (Simplified or Traditional), and occasionally Thai.

While in the Evaluation department, I worked on some "useful" tools; basically, a couple of perl scripts to parse html/asp/jsp files to remove javascript and comment out server-side directives, both of which would usually be untranslatable material. Another script would extract embedded javascript strings, and stick them into a text file. Later, I joined the Development department, and stuck all my scripts together with a pretty Tk interface. I was quite proud of it, considering the GUI was all hand-coded. Unfortunately, Trados, the word-counting and translation tool we use, soon caught up by learning how to deal with scripting in HTML files.

When I joined Development, the department consisted of a VP and a VB hacker named Ken. Now there's 16 of us, with several unfortunate layers of (mis)management, working on an Enterprise Application. We have all the buzzwords; J2EE, EJB, JSP, Servlets... plus I get to play with nice tools like Ant. Transware, as a rule, pays very much towards the lower end of the scale, and has never been a development company, hence my doubt that a *real* software company would run a development project quite so badly. Also, being a publicly quoted company, we have shareholders to think of, which is why being a developer here kinda sucks. But, hell, I'm learning!


*: Bitching time. Oracle are no longer a Transware client. Having signed a huge contract, worth an awful lot of money to the company, one of senior management decided that the first shipment of courses really didn't need external language QA. So the courses were awful, and Oracle dropped the contract quicker than... well, come up with your own metaphor.

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