The way in which the user communicates with the program is by far the most significant characteristic of the interface. Contemporary applications have a wide array of available means of communication. These include typed commands, function keys, traditional menus, pull-down and pop-up menus, dialog boxes, icons, clickable buttons, and wizards. All these elements can be used separately or combined e.g. the same task may be completed by striking a hotkey, selecting the function from a menu or clicking a button.
In most terminology management tools it is possible to manipulate the taskbars, menus, as well as the size and arrangement of the different panes. Also the color-coding of different fields in termbanks and glossaries, as well as translation memories can be customized. It is vital for instance, if the user finds it difficult to read the text from a brightly colored background, which was the case in the earlier versions of De'ja` vu9.
3.4 On-screen display
On-screen display is usually definable by the user. Using different techniques in different programs, the users may easily resize and rearrange the taskbars and windows. Also the coloring of the field status indications can be customized. All the changes made by the user in the default display are usually clearly visible or are indicated with a tick on the menus and can be easily reset to default if needed.
In some applications the contents are displayed in the what you get is what you see (WYGIWYS) manner, meaning that the users can see the effects of their work in the way it will look in the target format. However, in many CAT tools a translation grid is used instead, which shows both the source and target language together in a tabular form (Asse'natFalcone 2000). In order to see the final effect, though, it is sometimes possible to activate a preview function, also referred to as `external view', which can indirectly display the working file in a final format without the need to conduct the full export procedure.
Most terminology management tools have a default display layout at their disposal and a possibility to modify it and save as custom layouts for later use. Other tools, like De'ja` vu X, offer a number of fixed layouts characteristic of particular terminology collections or termbanks.
3.5 Data management
When describing terminology management tools, we should definitely discuss the issue of language support. The list of languages supported by the tool is most certainly the first piece information considered by a prospective user of the application. Another question is whether all the languages supported by the tool can be used both as source and target languages. In some cases also the support of language varieties is crucial. Moreover, it is sometimes essential that the tool supports bi-directional languages10 and double-byte character sets (DBCS).
Another question of great importance is whether the terminological entries may only contain textual data. Most terminology management tools are designed to contain textual data exclusively. However, recent innovations enabled the users to store multimedia files including images, audio and video files in Multiterm iX termbases.
9In De'ja` vu 3's brightly colored background in the translation grid indicated different match status or damaged formatting e.g. formatting changes caused the whole field to be marked with a bright red background.
10Bi-directional languages - typical of the Middle East - are characterized by the bi-directionality of the different elements of the text, e.g. in Arabic the text is directed right to left, while numbers left to right.