Translation is constantly evolving. Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, as well as digitization, have created a new dynamic in the field of translation.

Currently, many CAT tools are used around the world by translation agencies, freelance translators and companies alike. Some of the leading CAT tools today are SDL Trados, STAR Transit, Wordfast and MemoQ.


The quest for a universal translation file format

The industry standard for file formats is currently the .xliff. This tag-based format was created in 2002 by OASIS to standardise the way localised data was exchanged.

Since then, every CMS (Content Management System) and TMS (Translation Memory System) has adopted this .xliff format for its own software. As a result, one system's format may not be entirely compatible with another's.

What this means is that each CAT tool has its own method for creating projects and using the .xliff format. Currently, exchanging data between the different translation intermediaries like agencies, translators and companies, becomes complicated when each uses different software.

Every side can agree that the inconveniences that arise can result in translation memory incompatibility, lost data and different segmentation, among others.

The TAPICC initiative aims to offer a standard that is compatible with all of the CAT tools. The quest for a universal file format has begun.


TAPICC, a revolutionary project

The project was launched a few months ago by the Globalization and Localization Association and has been applauded by those in the field of translation.

Right after its launch, the Technicis teams were eager to contribute to this ambitious project. "Why make things so difficult when it can be quite simple! Thank you TAPICC for reintroducing this idea into the field!" stated Alexandre Cazenave, a volunteer contributor to the TAPICC initiative and part of the Production Department at Technicis.

TAPICC stands for Translation API (Use) Cases and Classes, and it has three objectives:

  1. Implement a standard Internet-friendly file format, that could replace the current .xliff, which is too large for web technology (remember that most CAT tools are offered as a SaaS).
  2. Establish a standard project format which would be compatible with all other software once downloaded.
  3. Develop a universal API to simplify file exchanges between all parties and which is based on the COTI standard, a previous initiative.

Philippe Brissard, a voluntary contributor to the TAPICC initiative and an employee in the Production Department at Technicis, stated "It's rare to have the opportunity to participate in the future of your profession, and the TAPICC initiative does just that: creating the foundations of future professional translation tools. This is a golden opportunity!"

The first phase of the initiative has already started and will be completed on 31 December 2017. Alexandre Cazenave and Philippe Brissard are currently working on defining the future translation file format to replace the .xliff. Working in a group of 15 professionals from across the globe, they will be tasked with masterfully finding a solution to this great challenge!

We'll be sure to follow them closely over the next few months. Stay tuned for updates!