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Let’s wipe TMX out July 20, 2010

Posted by globalizer in Tools, Translation.

The boilerplate TMX blurb sounds great: Vendor-neutral, open, tool-independent, flexibility, future-proof, control over TM assets.

What’s not to like? Well, in theory nothing, but in practice almost everything.

The basic problem is that unless you use vendor-specific and tool-specific values for a number of elements, the content in the TMX will be almost useless. And if you use vendor-specific and tool-specific values, then the whole point of the standard is of course lost.

A couple of examples:


Translation unit identifier – Specifies an identifier for the <tu> element. Its value is not defined by the standard (it could be unique or not, numeric or alphanumeric, etc.).


Property – The element is used to define the various properties of the parent element (or of the document when
is used in the element). These properties are not defined by the standard.

As your tool is fully responsible for handling the content of an element you can use it in any way you wish. For example the content can be a list of instructions your tool can parse, not only a simple text.

name:domain value:Computer science Computer science

It is the responsibility of each tool provider to publish the types and values of the properties it uses. If the tool exports unpublished properties types, their values should begin with the prefix “x-“.

That’s peachy if both the sender and the receiver use the same tool, but in that case there is of course also no use for an open standard.

So in effect you can exchange TMs via TMX, but you lose extremely important parts of that TM in the process – such as IDs or keys tied to each translation unit (enabling proper handling of homonyms by enabling “exact exact matches”).

I assume this sorry state is part of the motivation for OpenTM2, given the statement about it being a reference implementation of TMX. It would also explain this exchange from one of the OpenTM2 steering committee meetings:

Helena: I think we need to wipe TMX out and use OpenTM2 to create a reference around which to write the standard. This will serve as proof of concept to use as development.
Michael A: Arle, where are we with TMX 2.0?
Arle: I see OpenTM2 as driving the next generation of TMX.
Let’s hope that next generation is not too far off…


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