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Is Trados worth buying?
Thread poster: Juan Fern�ndez
Juan Fern�ndez
Local time: 08:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 17, 2005

I am considering whether to buy a Trados license. However, I have never been exposed to it, and I don't know if it is worth buying it. I would like to hear from those of you who have actually bought it, and tell me if it is an excellent tool as they claim it is.

My other inquiry is if the original documents need to be scanned and converted through OCR into text in order to use Trados. The reason why I ask is because I get a lot of photocopies of the original documents (certificates, transcripts, letters) that were not created in a Windows program.

Thank you for any information you may provide me with, regarding this subject.


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Ron Tischler  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:22
Japanese to English
Trados is a mixed blessing. Jun 17, 2005

It makes sense for agencies to use Trados, because it provides a way to make translations done by different people come out consistently. One person creates a "translation memory" that another person uses, and the second person can see exactly what words the first person used for the same thing. As an individual translator, your reason to buy Trados is to get jobs where the agency requires that you have it. That makes sense, too.

To do its job, Trados makes a lot of new tasks for you, and it makes some things take longer, such as copying over large blocks of text that are nearly identical, or proofreading your work and correcting it afterward. That's because Trados makes you deal with bilingual files one sentence at a time, where is it more difficult to see what the translation actually looks like. On the other hand, Trados automatically recalls for you how you translated something before, so that saves you some time. Of course, such automation helps with the tasks that were easiest to start with, not the ones the require thinking and are the real job of the translator. And using Trados can also be tricky, where it suggests things that are not right, and you have to be careful not to accidentally accept them, a mistake that can have many harmful consequences that you only realize later. In summary, you can make large jobs come out more consistently by using Trados, but you have to be willing to do the extra work involved, and you usually should get paid more for doing so.

Agencies use the statistics produced by Trados to come up with a complicated way of paying for jobs. Whether that's fair or not depends on the way they do it. There certainly are cases where Trados saves you time, but it depends on the kind of job. Usually, I think that Trados doesn't save you time, but just saves you the trouble of doing some simple tasks in exchange for having to do other ones. If you get paid less per word, and that is reasonable to you because you spend less time per word, it might be because in fact it did save you time, but it's also possible that it just encouraged you to do less thinking, and the quality has gone down. That may be a reasonable trade-off, but people should understand that this is what they are getting.


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xxxTekkie
English to German
+ ...
Q: Is Trados worth buying? A: No. Jun 17, 2005

Download SDLX 2005 and use this uncrippled version for 30 days:

http://www.sdl.com/products-translation/products/sdlx/products-downloads-sdlx/downloads-sdlx-evaluation.htm

I'm a TRADOS user for many years but TRADOS does not only contain many programming flaws but its concept is totally wrong (requiring OLE communication between two programs such as TRADOS Translator's WorkBench and Word or TRADOS Translator's WorkBench and TRADOS TagEditor).


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Juan Fern�ndez
Local time: 08:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Ron Jun 17, 2005

From your explanation it sounds like it is not worth it, and I gather that it requires people to give you electronic files rather than paper copies. For that matter, might as well have a nice database in Access with the most common phrases/words you use and plug them in. That way, you still think and your translation work will not suffer in quality. Besides, I believe that a translation needs to have high quality standards because if something is not properly translated, it can cause a lot of problems for the client. It is best slowly but surely, than fast and sloppy.

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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
mixed blessing Jun 17, 2005

Ron Tischler wrote:

..... One person creates a "translation memory" that another person uses, and the second person can see exactly what words the first person used for the same thing.


Which means error is perpetuated too!

Ron Tischler wrote:
As an individual translator, your reason to buy Trados is to get jobs where the agency requires that you have it. That makes sense, too.


Usually this means a reduced rate that doesn't really compensate for the work involved.

Ron Tischler wrote:
And using Trados can also be tricky, where it suggests things that are not right, and you have to be careful not to accidentally accept them, a mistake that can have many harmful consequences that you only realize later.


For example, if you have similar texts with different numbers, you'll possibly end up having to do a very careful double-check to ensure that the numbers are right. That wouldn't happen without Trados, cos you simply overwrite the text.

Ron Tischler wrote:
Usually, I think that Trados doesn't save you time, but just saves you the trouble of doing some simple tasks in exchange for having to do other ones. If you get paid less per word, and that is reasonable to you because you spend less time per word, it might be because in fact it did save you time, but it's also possible that it just encouraged you to do less thinking, and the quality has gone down. That may be a reasonable trade-off, but people should understand that this is what they are getting.


I agree wholly:-)

All in all I avoid doing work involving poor fuzzy rates, simply becuase using Trados doesn't cut your work in proprtion to the level of repetition. What's more, I think it can really affect quality using other memories...I personally like to do a 'whole' job, not just patch up a text.

For someone who doesn't do a lot of highly repetitive work, I find the concordance feature to be useful, as you can search your memory for previously translated words and expressions to ensure consistency.

Finally, I don't think it's widely considered an 'excellent' tool, it's actually quite cumbersome in some ways (and as said, it potentially affects translation quality).

If you are uncertain, a good alternative, and a lot cheaper and user friendly is WordFast, with a memory format that is interchangeable with Trados.


Just to add: I have just completed another text containing a lot of repetitions and near repetitions. The time I saved in actually re-translating I used up entirely - and more irritatingly - in having to ensure absolutely that both translations of terms and concepts were identical....aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhh!

[Edited at 2005-06-19 23:09]


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 06:22
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a long term investment Jun 17, 2005

My agency is still small, but I believe that Trados is a long-term investment for those who are constantly working with the same sort of material. Our glossaries are in constant development, but of course we have to really research the terms and make sure the translation is correct before entering them on the MultiTerm glossary; otherwise, the mistake will be propagated...

But using Workbench for the past three months has been really helpful because we don't have to spend time looking for the term that has been previously used within the translated document and whenever the same sentence comes up on further paragraphs, Workbench displays the translation you've already entered in order to save you a lot of time typing or re-researching it.

Anyway, I believe that down the road, let's say, in five years, we'll have a good library available to the agency and be able to cut down our time, delivering consistent translations within a reasonable deadline.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other CATs Jun 18, 2005

In answering your question, remember that Trados is not the only translation tool. Those who have bought it, but have never tried any other of the options, will not be able to give you a well-rounded viewpoint. WordFast has already been mentioned. Déjà Vu and SDLX have loyal followings, and few translators who have tried Trados and either of these still prefer Trados. For those with more computing expertise, OmegaT is a free open source program.

[Edited at 2005-06-18 02:58]


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 15:22
English to Czech
+ ...
CAT tools Jun 18, 2005

I recommend reading past threads on this topic, it has been already discussed several times.

I don't know if it is worth buying it.


It depends on your needs. If you translate a lot of repetitive material, then it's definitely worth buying. You will also need it if you work for agencies that require a CAT tool. If your documents are always different without repeating or similar sentences (eg. literary translations), then it won't be so useful.

You can download a trial version of any major CAT tool (Trados is not the only one) and find out for yourself.

I would like to hear from those of you who have actually bought it, and tell me if it is an excellent tool as they claim it is.


Trados is indispensable for me, because my jobs are highly technical and repetitive.

My other inquiry is if the original documents need to be scanned and converted through OCR into text in order to use Trados.


Absolutely. CAT tools only work with electronic documents.

The reason why I ask is because I get a lot of photocopies of the original documents (certificates, transcripts, letters) that were not created in a Windows program.


See above. I am afraid a CAT tool won't be of much use here, especially when converting through OCR is needed. But still, in some cases using OCR + CAT could be more efficient than translating from a hard copy.

Besides, I believe that a translation needs to have high quality standards because if something is not properly translated, it can cause a lot of problems for the client. It is best slowly but surely, than fast and sloppy.


You are getting a wrong idea here. CAT tool doesn't mean low quality (unless an agency wants you to use their translation memory with low-quality translations). Besides, you should always check the segments offered by the CAT tool and correct them if necessary.

You should really try a trial version to find out what using a CAT tool is like. Then you will be able to assess if it helps you or not.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Still worth it Jun 18, 2005

Juan Fernández wrote:
From your explanation it sounds like it is not worth it, and I gather that it requires people to give you electronic files rather than paper copies. For that matter, might as well have a nice database in Access with the most common phrases/words you use and plug them in.


Many translators find their CAT tool so useful that they also decide to invest in an OCR program to convert paper copies into electronic copies just so that they can use their CAT program. The "database in Access with the most common phrases/words you use and plug them in" is, in effect, a good description of CAT tools (though the details may differ). When you use these tools, the programmers have taken care of all the details of implementation; all you have to do is read your text into the program and translate.

Besides, I believe that a translation needs to have high quality standards
quote]

The program doesn't work against maintaining high quality standards; in fact it can help you do so, because you don't have to take extra time searching for how you translated a particular term or turn of phrase in the past. The program automatically presents you with all the options you used before, and you can then decide according to the present context whether to use one of them, modify any one of them, or think up something new.

[Edited at 2005-06-18 13:55]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:22
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Why not try it out, then? Jun 20, 2005

Juan Fernández wrote:
I am considering whether to buy a Trados license. However, I have never been exposed to it, and I don't know if it is worth buying it.


AFAIK you can download a trial-limited version of Trados. Download it and see what it does.


My other inquiry is if the original documents need to be scanned and converted through OCR into text in order to use Trados.


Yes. Trados feeds you one sentence at a time, which you then translate. But for Trados to feed you the sentences, Trados needs to have the sentences in machine readable format.


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Ian M-H
United States
Local time: 09:22
German to English
+ ...
It depends ... ;-) Jun 21, 2005

Juan Fernández asked:
Is Trados worth buying?


Like most people, I can't give you the definitive answer. I tried Trados very briefly and just didn't get on with it. Possibly just a matter of personal taste, as lots of people have climbed the Trados learning curve and are very positive about the products.

In my case, no client or agency was pushing me to use a particular CAT tool so I shopped around. The one I ended up buying earlier this year was SDLX and I'm very glad that I did so. I'm not raving about SDLX or slamming Trados, just telling you that SDLX is certainly worth looking at.

I don't start the program if I'm translating an art catalogue or a personal letter, which would be the same with any CAT tool. But with most other assignments I find that it saves me time and improves the consistency of my work. The larger the job, the more helpful it is - rather than remembering that you translated a term or phrase a few pages ago (or in another job for the same client a few months ago), and searching for it, the software reminds you and suggests the translation you used last time.

As others have suggested: search the forums and test different CAT tools.

Regarding Trados specifically, also have a look at the thread about SDL's proposed purchase of the Trados company. Opinion (=speculation) differs about what it will mean for Trados users, but anyone considering buying Trados should certainly be aware of the move before parting with their cash. See:

http://www.proz.com/topic/33572


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