Last February, for almost 1 (one) month I took a part in a huge technical translation project that involving EPS files. EPS is one of the output files produced by Adobe Illustrator that cannot be directly processed in CAT tools such as SDL Trados. To process EPS files in SDL Trados, we will need a special plugin called “Sysfilter” that costs up to 400 USD!

Actually, I was positioned as an editor on that project. And the client’s main request to the translator team was to translate the EPS files directly in Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately, none of the translators owned and were able to operate Adobe Illustrator. So, they would prefer to process the files in the CAT tool. Then, knowing that in the past I was learning graphic design and multimedia, the lead translator asked me to convert the EPS files into Trados-ready format.

So, what did I do so that Trados could recognize the EPS files without Sysfilter plugin?

The first step that I did was searching references in forums such as in Proz and SDL Community forum. But unfortunately, I found no specific tutorial on how to handle EPS files in Trados without an external plugin. Most of the tutorial was about handling AI files (native file format of Adobe Illustrator) that needed Sysfilter, while the other suggested converting the EPS files to SVG format and then process the files in memoQ—and finally, this suggestion was the one I chose.

1. Converting and Translating EPS Files in memoQ

Generally, the workflow that I ‘imagined’ was:

EPS files → Convert to SVG → Import and translate in memoQ → Import SVG from memoQ (the target file) into Adobe Illustrator → Save as back to EPS.

But, did this work perfectly?

Converting EPS to SVG

I finally tried to convert some of EPS files from the lead translator by saving as the files directly in Adobe Illustrator (File – Save as – SVG). Then, I imported the SVGs to memoQ and tried to translate some segments. Unfortunately, after translating and exporting back to the SVG and opening it in Adobe Illustrator, the target text didn’t appear (only the source text). In fact, when the SVG file was opened in other applications (such as in web browser), the texts were already changed into the target.

Converting Back to EPS

Because the SVG file from memoQ couldn’t show the target text when it was opened in Adobe Illustrator, while the target text would appear when the file was opened in other applications such as in web browser, I was finally “forced” to find another way out.

object coordinate

Object coordinates in Adobe Illustrator.

The fastest way that I could do that time was opening the SVG file in Adobe Illustrator → did grouping → wrote down the coordinate of the grouped object → deleted all the objects → imported the same file by using File – Place menu. Then, I placed the imported objects according to the original coordinate and saved back the file to EPS format using Save as.

Unfortunately, by using this method, the structure of the layers became so different with the original EPS. Again, I had to find another way out.

2. Converting and Translating EPS Files in SDL Trados

Because I failed to process the files using memoQ and my team prefers to use SDL Trados, so I tried the following steps:

Converting EPS to SVG to XML

Besides didn’t directly support EPS files, SDL Trados also didn’t support importing SVG files. Then I remembered that SVG was basically an XML file, so after I saved the EPS as SVG I changed the file extension (the <.svg>) to XML. Example: the original file name was setting.svg, then I changed it to setting.xml. After changing the extension, then I tried to translate it in SDL Trados.

Converting Back to EPS

After generating target translation, I returned the file extension to SVG so I could open it in Adobe Illustrator and then saved it back to EPS. Unfortunately, again, the layer structure of the EPS had changed (became different with the original one).

The Last Trick

Actually, I had succeeded in processing a few of the EPS files by converting them first, both to SVG and XML. At least I could handle them in Trados 2014 and memoQ 2014 R2. But unfortunately, when the output file was opened in Adobe Illustrator, the layer structure became a mess. For example: the original file had 4 layer groups consisting of 3 or 4 objects per group. After translation, the output file had 1 or 2 layer groups consisting of many objects at once.

This would be totally time-consuming if I had to reconstruct the whole layers, and then moved the objects one by one according to their original layer(s). So, because basically, the client asked the translators to translate directly in Adobe Illustrator, I finally took the following steps (the steps that actually time-consuming and a bit inefficient):

  1. I converted all the EPS files to XML and let the translators translated them. Once the files were returned to me, I checked the translation and converted them back to SVG;
  2. I opened the SVG in web browser one by one to see the translation result;
  3. I opened the original EPS file in Adobe Illustrator;
  4. I copied the target text from the SVG file that I opened through a web browser, then I pasted the text onto the EPS file that I opened in the Adobe Illustrator;
  5. I saved the EPS using Save as so that the original file remained intact and could be used for future reference.

The five steps above were actually inefficient because it just the same as I translated the files by myself. If only the translators could translate the files directly in Adobe Illustrator, this project would have finished faster and I didn’t need to handle the layering problems. But, even if the translators could finish the translation faster, they still had to face one problem: inconsistencies of the translation, especially in repetition and the use of termbases as determined by the client. It would be impossible for the translators to translate while guessing or exploring the termbases one by one. By this consideration, the translators insisted to use CAT tool and then let me checked the translation and fixed the layering problem.

Luckily, with those inefficient and ineffective technics and methods, we could finish the project timely as scheduled.

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