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How to choose CAT Tools at the beginning?
Thread poster: Lidia Matei

Lidia Matei  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:10
Italian to Romanian
+ ...
Sep 20, 2007

Dear colleagues,

I have started to translate in 2001, but I've worked at the beginning as a freelancer and as an employee as well. I have decided to work only as a freelancer translator this year.

I have heard in various situations about CAT Tools, but I haven't the possibility to work and to try them.

Can you advise a beginner in CAT Tools, which CAT Tool is more adeguate? How to choose a good CAT Tool?

Thank you in advance,
Lidia


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Wilmer Brouwer
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
What do you want to use it for? Sep 20, 2007

- Do you just want a good CAT?
A CAT tool can be very helpful if you want to improve your speed and the quality of your work. In this case my preference is to work with Wordfast. It's not very expensive and it does more than most other CAT's I have seen. MemoQ also looks very promising. You can try both for free.
- Do you want to receive more work?
However, if you don't have enough work/clients at the moment and work for agencies a lot, I think that you really only have one option: to invest in Trados. Not because Trados is better than others but because many agencies/clients want you to use it. Wordfast/MemoQ are not totally compatible with Trados so you will need it. It's quite a lot of money but for me it was worth the investment though I still use WF whenever I can. I first bought Wordfast and after a few months needed to buy Trados as well, you may want to avoid that mistake


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 14:10
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Trial versions Sep 20, 2007

Trial versions are available for most CAT tools so you can download and try for free.
I also agree with Wilmer - for many jobs posted here, Trados is a requirement.
I joined proz. in may this year, and had never heard of CATs.
Downloading a trial version of Trados was one of the first things I did, and I later participated in a group buy here. It is quite a lot of money, but without it I would never have got half the jobs I have, and in my field, where consistent, and sometimes even prescribed vocabulary is important, it is a great help.


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Alan Halls
Germany
Local time: 14:10
German to English
A general purpose tool for all formats Sep 20, 2007

Hello Lidia

I experimented with several CAT tools about 12 years ago. In those days there were not many to chhose from - today there are many. I have tried Trados, Wordfast and Transit intensively and decided on Transit for a number of reasons. Firstly, it handles all formats such as Word, PowerPoint Excel, Quark, HTML etc. etc. in the same interface. You never have to get used to working with a tag editor for one, fumbling around in word tables for another. Only about 70% of my jobs come in Word format and the rest are split between Excel, Powerpoint and HTML. Secondly, it is document based, rather than being database orientated. This means that, if you remember using a key phrase in the past and search for it via the concordance function (source or target language!!), you can then browse the entire file to check the context. Also, because of the way the reference files are handled, you do not have to recreate "TMs" every time you change the direction of translation. The files are simply used the other way round. Also, if you organise the reference files in folders for each key customer or field, you can guarantee that a 100% hit really is a 100% hit. In a comparison of CAT tools, I once read that if you like Transit you get obsessed with it. Sure did! It has increased my output by at least 20% and the dictionary function is also a dream. Ensuring consistent use of terminology is dead simple (with graphics if you wish). If necessary, you can also export a project im TMX format, which is a standard format that can be read by other CAT tools such as Trados, Wordfast. Of course this function works both ways. So if an agency or customer sends you a TMX file from Trados, you can still process it and return in the same format. Another key aspect is support. I have found Transit support to be unbeatably quick and capable. Mind you, I do pay the 300 euros a year extra support fee. Even if you don't they are still very good. Details, prices etc. are available from http://www.star-group.net/star-www/home/all/star-group/eng/star.html


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Tried a few- ended up with Trados (and sometimes Transit) Sep 20, 2007

Hi Lidia,

I've tried a few CAT-tools (trial versions!) and found there are really two kinds of CAT tools; those that allow you to work with already standard formats (like Word docs, etc) and those that require their own formatting.

In the first group, I ended up with Trados. I like it, I got used to it, and it seems to be almost industry standard. Lots of outsourcers ask for it. The 2007 version also comes with Tag Editor, which is a useful tool for working with RTF and HTML documents.

Second, there's Star Transit. This tool has its own formatting. Some outsourcers like to work with it, because it gives them more control. The project has to be prepared for you, and all the relevant information is then sent along with the text, as a complete project file that you have to import in Transit. It is not industry standard, and it is not compatible with other CAT tools. Some of the jobs I get are offered to me because in my language pair there are not a lot of people who use Transit, so the outsourcers' choice is limited.

If I were you, I'd go for Trados. And if you have the time, check out whether a tool like Transit is populair in your language pair. If there are only a few colleagues who use it, it might be worthwhile. Perhaps you could search through old jobs posted here on ProZ, see what requirements there have been in the past.

You can also read the fora on Trados, Transit and the other CAT tools (they all have their own). Gives you an idea of what it's like to work with them.

With regard to the money: I've worked with trial versions for about a month. After the first few projects, I had plenty money to spend on the full versions. There have been slow periods after that, but well, that's the life of a freelancer, isn't it.

Good luck!

Margreet


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Sandeep Kumar Talla
Local time: 14:10
English
+ ...
Try Trados and other trial version Sep 20, 2007

Hi,

You can try trial versions before you know which CAT is best for you. Also Trados is good.

Regards,
Sandeep


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Mulyadi Subali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 20:10
English to Indonesian
+ ...
omegat Sep 20, 2007

you can also try the free, opensource tool, omegat: http://sourceforge.net/projects/omegat
i use trados and omegat. nowadays, more and more of my (new) clients don't specifically ask for trados, so i use omegat extensively now.
aside from being free, omegat is also portable, choose the one with jre in the download section. portable means that i put it in my usb and use it in any idle computer i can get...


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Alan Halls
Germany
Local time: 14:10
German to English
Transit compatibility Sep 20, 2007

Just a quick note for Margreet.

Transit can import and export TMX files - i.e. TMs in an exchangeable format. This makes it fully compatible with Trados, Wordfast etc. You are, I think, referring to the free Transit Satellite version. Star have a simple and, I believe, unique system, which enables a translation agency with the full ("professional") version to generate "projects" which can be translated by the translated with the free version and returned to the agency as a returned project. That way the translator does not need to pay anything and can benefit from the dictionaries, reference files attached to the project. On the other hand, the Satellite version does not allow you to create any projects, do exports or any of the other nice things that the full version gives you. At our modest little agency in Germany, we use this function almost daily. We send out multilingual projects to colleagues who use the Satellite version to translate them. We then do the rest. That way we all win. If my customer actually thought we were working in Trados, I could then do a TMX export and send that to the customer as a project TM. Transit has the added advantage that it is not restricted to only a few languages.
Alan


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Antoní­n Otáhal
Local time: 14:10
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
Wll, not the whole truth Sep 20, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:

Second, there's Star Transit. This tool has its own formatting. Some outsourcers like to work with it, because it gives them more control. The project has to be prepared for you, and all the relevant information is then sent along with the text, as a complete project file that you have to import in Transit. It is not industry standard, and it is not compatible with other CAT tools.


I am afraid you have somewhat mixed things up about Transit.

With the free version, you have to be sent a prepared project; with the paid versions you can import and prepare projects yourself. It is as compatible with other tools as the rest of them. (Of course, it is not clear what you mean by "compatibility" here.)

For example, you can process Trados ttx files in it and this work is much more flexible and pleasant than in TagEditor.

Antonin


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
A good tool is a tool that suits your needs Sep 20, 2007

so first try to identify exactly what you need (types of files to process, languages, need/possibility of TM exchange etc.). And compare it with the features of different CAT tools.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 15:10
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Restrictions Sep 20, 2007

I believe Transit can be a very good tool, if you own a licensed version (they seem to be more expensive than most other tools). But if you have only Transit Satellite, you are restricted to the project files the customer sends you. I have yet to see a project file for Transit which is prepared so that the database is of any help for the translater. And segmentation cannot be changed.
I just wanted to mention this here.
Very often it is of great advantage if you can decide on the fly, where you want a segment to begin and end. In this respect Wordfast for Word-files is very convenient.
Cheers
Heinrich


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
English to Dutch
+ ...
Thanks Alan, and Antonin Sep 20, 2007

I used to have Satellite, but found it missed certain features. I'm now using Transit XV Workstation. As far as I know, I still need files the agency has prepared for me. Professional version is rather expensive, so I didn't try that.

Don't get me wrong, I like Transit. However, I get a lot more work in Trados. But Transit is very easy to switch to, it's quite user friendly. So even if I haven't worked with it for a while, I'm back on track in no time.

Thanks for your comments, I'll go and read the manual again, it seems I've missed a few points....

Antonin, by compatibility I meant that if a number of translators are working on the same file simultaneously, you can't exchange bilingual ('unclean') file versions during the project if one is working in Trados and another in Transit. Unless I've missed that too...

Thanks again!

Margreet


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two options Sep 20, 2007

Lidia Matei wrote:
Can you advise a beginner in CAT Tools, which CAT Tool is more adeguate? How to choose a good CAT Tool?


You have two approaches: 1. Choose a CAT tool that fits the type of work you currently do, or 2. Choose a CAT tool that fits the type of work you are hoping to get.

So the question is... what types of files do you currently translate or do you hope to translate mostly soon?

[Edited at 2007-09-20 17:45]


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Antoní­n Otáhal
Local time: 14:10
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
It depends Sep 20, 2007

Margreet Logmans wrote:

Antonin, by compatibility I meant that if a number of translators are working on the same file simultaneously, you can't exchange bilingual ('unclean') file versions during the project if one is working in Trados and another in Transit. Unless I've missed that too...

Margreet


For the most frequently (or so I believe) used optoions, i.e., Trados ttx files and the Word+TradosWokrbench combination, Transit can be used as a tool for processing these Trados files, which can be sent out / put in at any stage of your work. Of course, I refer here to the Smart or Professional version.

Above Transit XV Workstation there are Smart and Professional, which both admit importing and sending projects. The former is about the price of Trados, I think, and Professional costs about twice as much. But IMHO it is worth the investment.

Antonin


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Forget CAT Sep 21, 2007

Use your own brain, train it right and it will carry you through life. You don't need CATS.

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