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Translog 2000 tutorial

General product description

Translog2000 is a Windows-oriented (Windows95 and Windows98) program that allows you to record and study all kinds of writing done on a computer keyboard. It was originally developed to study writing processes in translation, hence the name Translog, but it can be used equally successfully with any kind of writing.

Without in any way interfering with the writing process, the program records all the keystrokes, including all changes, deletions, additions, cut-'n-paste operations and cursor movements made by a writer in the process of creating a text.

The program also logs information about the exact time at which each keystroke operation is made. This information allows you to replay a typing process any number of times using easy-to-use media-player buttons. It also allows you to create a linear representation of an entire typing event (including changes) with a graphic and/or numerical representation of the duration of any pauses occurring during the process of typing.

The software is very easy to install and no additional software is required.

Note: When run under Windows2000 and WindowsXP, the Wingdings used to create the linear representation are displayed inaccurately. This problem is currently being looked into, and as soon as the problem has been solved, information about this will be posted under What's new? Meanwhile users running Translog2000 under these operating systems can get the correct linear representation of logged data by saving a representation and displaying it as a Word .rtf file.

How to use Translog

The information given here will give you a quick overview of how to use Translog.

Translog2000 consists of two main components: TranslogSupervisor and TranslogUser. The two components are interdependent. TranslogUser requires files created in TranslogSupervisor to run, and some of the main functions of TranslogSupervisor can only be performed on log files created by TranslogUser.

The TranslogUser program is an interface for displaying and entering text. It is a text editor with normal editing functions. This is the program in which writing tasks or translations are carried out.

The main differences between writing a text e.g. in Word and in Translog is that Translog operates with two windows, a source text window, in which text can only be read, and a target text window, in which text can be entered. Another main difference is that while you are writing, information about your keystrokes and keystroke times is being recorded ('logged'). If you didn't know this, you wouldn't notice.

The logging function in no way interferes with your text-editing situation. You will only notice the difference at the very end, when you have done writing, and you are asked if you wish to save the log file. Since this is the file that contains all the information you will need to replay and study your writing process, it is important that you save this file.

TranslogUser works from project files that need to be available for TranslogUser to be operational. How project files are created, using TranslogSupervisor, is described in the next section.

Translog Supervisor has four main functions.
  • It is used to create 'source texts' (e.g. instructional texts for writing tasks or source texts for translation)
  • It is used to set up project environments (project files) to be used by the TranslogUser component.
  • It is used to display log file data created by the TranslogUser component in two different modes
  • It is used to count and analyse log file data
Creating a source text
To create a source text, all you have to do is click the appropriate icon and enter the text you want for your next writing task.

This can be just a brief note saying 'Today's writing practice' or it can be a text in a foreign language, perhaps an article from El País, that you are going to translate into English. Perhaps you found this text on the Internet, in which case you can simply paste the Spanish text into Translog's source text editor from the Windows clipboard.

Creating a project environment
Once you have a source text, the next step is to create a project environment. A project environment consists of a source text and information about how the source text will be displayed when appearing in TranslogUser.

In most cases, you will probably just want the text to appear in the source text window and remain there until your writing task is completed. For some purposes, however, e.g. for writing and translation experiments, it may be desirable to be able to display a text in smaller portions, e.g. one sentence at a time, and perhaps to automatically display each portion for a certain number of seconds only, or you my prefer to allow the writer to go on to the next portion of source text when ready to do so.

TranslogSupervisor allows you to set up the way in which a source text will be displayed in a large variety of ways. When you have decided on the configuration that will serve your purpose, and saved the information, you have created a project file that TranslogUser will interpret in accordance with your specifications.

Displaying log file data: Replay and linear modes
TranslogSupervisor displays log file data in two different modes, separately or concurrently.

You can get the program to replay the entire typing process as often as you wish and at the speed that you wish (accelerated or decelerated). This operation is managed by pressing easy-to-use media-player buttons. The replay can be paused at any point, e.g. if you wish to print the current version of the target text or if you wish to discuss a particular writing problem with a writer. When the replay stops, the final text version will be displayed.

Alternatively, you can get Translog to build a linear representation of all the keystrokes together with symbolic and/or numeric indications of pauses and hesitations.

You decide on the accuracy with which you want Translog to represent information about the time aspect of text processing. If you are mainly interested in text revisions, you may prefer to reduce temporal information to a minimum. If you are particularly interested in pauses, on the other hand, you may wish to maximize this information, in which case you will be able to study pauses as small as a few hundreds of seconds.

A linear representation, with minimal temporal information (a 'blue' representation) might look like this:

Here the time value of one asterisk equals 5 seconds.

A linear representation of a portion of the same data ('players and officials'), but maximizing the temporal information (a 'red' representation) would look like this:

Here the value of one asterisk equals .01 second.

A linear representation of the data with one asterisk representing a .20 second duration ( a 'mixed' representation) would look like this:

Different representations help visualize different information points and therefore serve different purposes. The important point is that Translog can quickly calculate the representation that you find most suitable for your particular purpose.

Counting and analysing keystrokes
Translog not only keeps track of every keystroke used in creating a text, it also counts the total number of keystrokes and gives a measure of the overall speed with which a text was produced. Furthermore, keystrokes are analysed into relevant subcategories such as text production keystrokes, cursor navigation keystrokes, mouse clicks, and others, so that it becomes possible also to get a measure of text production efficiency.

Applications of Translog

Translog was originally created for research purposes, but it was soon found that the program was also highly suited for teaching and learning purposes. The main feature for all these purposes is that Translog is able to recreate all the details of the entire writing process.

Specific applications of Translog

Using Translog to track your writing

By simply watching your own writing process being replayed, you get valuable feedback on things like 'Where do I seem to get stuck or pause for long periods?', 'What typing errors do I keep making, and should I improve my overall typing speed?', 'What is the rhythm of my text production? Is it smooth or spasmodic?' 'Do I seem to plan ahead when I write, or do I seem to produce only a few words at a time and go back and revise a lot?' 'Do I spend too much time altogether on revising my text?'

A different way of using Translog for self-improvement purposes would be to compare a replay of your own writing with either a replay of one of your own earlier writing processes or with a replay of something written by a true professional in the field. Both of such comparisons would help you get a more accurate picture of the current level of your own performance.

Learners interested in getting more detailed feedback will quickly learn how to create relevant linear representations of writing processes and how to read the information represented there. They will also be able to benefit from the statistical information created by Translog. They will be well on the way to engaging in writing research!

Using Translog to track your translation work

Watching a replay of how you translated a certain text will not only help you answer the general writing questions listed in the previous section. It will help you remember the exact nature of your problem in places where you got stuck or hesitated and thereby help you identify areas in which there is still room for improvement.

If you wanted to create a list of all the places where you paused, say, for more than six seconds, you could easily do that by creating an appropriate linear representation and simply copy all the relevant passages into a document for separate reference.

The statistical information would also be very useful to you as a translator, and you could also benefit from comparison with your own earlier translation processes or with Translog recordings of the work of professional translators.

Using Translog to teach writing and translation

You are employed at a university or at a translator training institution. You have a class of students, all with their individual characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. Some are monolingual, others are bilingual; some are linguistically competent, but lack writing and/or translation strategies, or vice versa; some are daring, others are timid; some are planners, others are doers; some use dictionaries and browse the Internet, others rely more in their own resources; some rewrite and revise constantly, others don't alter a syllable. The combination of these different personalities and capacities are all contained within one and the same class, and you have to teach them to write or translate. Not an easy task, and Translog certainly will not do it for you, but there are at least two important ways in which Translog can help you meet such a teaching challenge.

Instead of teaching everybody in the same way by using the traditional methods of setting an assignment and asking students to hand in a text, which you subsequently mark and hand back and discuss in class, you can use Translog to teach collectively with an individual emphasis and you can teach writing and translation in a process-oriented way. At the beginning of the course, each student gets a copy of the TranslogUser program containing all the assignments for the course with a brief instruction in how to operate the program and how to submit assignments as log files. You then proceed to look at the creation of the text with each individual student focussing on processing aspects as well as on final solutions. Each student's particular learning needs are addressed, and all problems are addressed from a process-oriented perspective. How long this takes obviously depends on the size of the class, but it is well worth the effort.

Using Translog to research writing and translation

This is the purpose for which Translog was originally developed. Computer logging is an easy way of getting perfectly accurate information about all the typing that goes into a writing or translation task. Since data is recorded right from the start of a writing/translation task, it gives the researchers a chance to know all the stages a text went through before the final stage. A researcher is no longer confined to guessing about the process of composition on the basis of the finished product, but can observe every step taken along the way. Examples of more specialised research applications: The detailed real-time information recorded by Translog makes it possible to empirically test hypotheses about a correlation between cognitive processing and time lapse. Translog's replay function is a powerful instrument for eliciting rich and accurate process information in retrospective interviews. The various ways of controlling text display makes it possible to know accurately what a subject's attention is focussed on at any given time during an experiment and to study latency. Translog can be used in combination with other methods, e.g. Think-Aloud, either as a supplement or as a control. To find out more about these and other research applications, please join us at the User Forum.

What's new?

New Translog version

Translog.dk online

IST 2002 Event in Copenhagen
Translog - mail@translog.dk