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Which CAT to purchase?
Thread poster: Whitney Bryan

Whitney Bryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:58
Italian to English
Nov 24, 2008

Hello, everyone!

I'm sure this has been asked and debated numerous times, but new versions have become available since most of the previous posts. I am finally going to invest in a CAT tool, but I am unsure which is best. Most agencies ask for TRADOS, but I assume that this is partly due to name recognition. I am only familiar with TRADOS, Wordfast, and Metatexis by name, and I am certain there are others. With which do you prefer to work, and why?

Thank you,

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Spiros Doikas  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
Member (2002)
English to Greek
+ ...
Trados is the industry standard Nov 24, 2008

As you said, most agencies ask for it but it all depends on the kind of clients you have and kind of texts you get. For example, if you get DTP-type texts exported for Trados (or other texts prepared for Trados) then it is convenient to stick with it if you do not want to start juggling with different CAT tools and conversion processes. Saying that, most tools can accommodate Trados-prepared documents.

On the other hand, both Metatexis and Wordfast have very good demos. You could start with these, and if you see that your clients are growing and increasingly ask for Trados (and it is hard for you to adapt the workflow with other tools), then go for Trados.

DVX is a great tool and can do a lot of stuff in a single interface, but it is considerably more expensive than Trados.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
Member (2003)
German to English
Not really Nov 24, 2008

Spiros Doikas wrote:
DVX is a great tool and can do a lot of stuff in a single interface, but it is considerably more expensive than Trados.

The price differential isn't that big, and when you consider the differences in real productivity, the higher ROI of DVX makes Trados far more expensive. Working in TagEditor is akin to getting one's pocket picked when there are far better alternatives that can do the same work in most cases and produce the same deliverables. You get what you pay for (except when you when you pay for Trados. If you're seriously pinched for money but want a first-class tool, look at MemoQ. It has matured very nicely, it has generous free trial conditions, and the free versions are not bad for getting work done. The last version I worked with still lacked some of the features that I depend on heavily for QA and feedback in DV (especially the External View export of comments), but there are other features I really wish my favorite tool had.

[Edited at 2008-11-24 00:54 GMT]

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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
OmegaT is free and open source Nov 24, 2008

I don't know whether it's the best CAT tool in the world or not, but the price is right, and it works for me, as a non-expert in CAT tools. There's an OmegaT forum on ProZ you might want to look at.
See also


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:58
Member (2005)
English to Polish
+ ...
Swordfish Nov 24, 2008

Swordfish from Maxprograms is compatible with the Trados formats (Workbench RTF, which it calls Tagged RTF; and TagEditor TTX format) and won't cost you an arm and a leg.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Trados if you can afford it, Transit if you are better off Nov 24, 2008

Its a bit like the computer industry in the past. Nobody ever got sacked because s/he bought IBM, though the alternatives might have been better.
So even if Trados is not the best software technically, you will get along with it. And if you don't get along, your customers will understand, that not you are to blame, but Trados. With other tools its the other way round.
Transit is technologically the most perfect solution, but the price tag is high. You have to ask your local representative how high.
If you prefer to work in Word (XP), Wordfast has enough muscle, but the time may come where Word will be obsolete.


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Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:58
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
open source options Nov 24, 2008

You actually have several FREE/open source options.
All of the following are, to my knowledge, fully cross-platform, functioning in Linux, Windows and Mac environments.

Someone has already mentioned OmegaT ( which I use as my primary CAT tool.
It works with a broad spectrum of file formats and has numerous handy and nifty features.
Great stuff. I highly recommend it.

Another option is Anaphraseus (, which works similarly to older versions of Wordfast, as a plug-in to I use this tool occasionally, and also believe it is a viable and excellent option.

With these two tools, I am able to manage all major industry standard document formats for my work (largely legal documentation, patents, contracts, but also software localization, websites, etc.), and provide even my "Trado$ only" clients with appropriate target documents and translation memories (when requested).

Additionally, there are Esperantilo, Transolution, and Java Open Language Tools, all of which are free/open source software.
I've experimented with these last three, but do not use them regularly.
I think it's kind of gro0vy that three open source, cross-platform, interpreted (computer) languages are represented by this trio, Esperantilo being written in tcl/tk, Transolution in python, and JOLT in java.

OmegaT, and Anaphraseus to my knowledge, are both written in Java.

[Edited at 2008-11-24 14:36 GMT]

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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:58
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Only OmegaT Nov 24, 2008

OmegaT, and Anaphraseus to my knowledge, are both written in Java.

Anaphraseus is purely in StarBasic (aka OOo Basic) and does not require Java (although OOo does for some of its functionality, but Anaphraseus will work without Java anyway).

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Blanca García-Puente  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
No word of Wordfast? Nov 24, 2008

I've recently starting offering my services as a freelancer (just starting!). I am considering purchasing my first CAT. I thought I'd start with Wordfast. Is this a good idea for a first timer?

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Ulf Samuelsson  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:58
Member (2007)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Preference for Wordfast Nov 24, 2008

Blanca asked about Wordfast, and I thought I would post my reasons for preferring Wordfast.

Many agencies demand that Trados is used in situations where it really wouldn't make a difference if Wordfast was used. And you might even say that all jobs that require Trados can be translated with Wordfast – all you need is the demo version of Trados.

OK, I have a fully licenced version of Trados, but I prefer to use Wordfast for a number of reasons:

1. In Wordfast, there is a quality control function that you can customize (it can warn you for double spaces, deviation from a customer-specific glossary, certain style errors or changed numbers/tags, and you can even set it to check the spelling before moving to the next segment). You can also use a list of unwanted terms as a blacklist so Wordfast will warn you if these words are found in the text. This is useful when a client has made changes in the terminology - just put the old and now unwanted term in the blacklist, and you'll be warned if it is still in the text when you try to go to the next segment.
2. You can use several memories at the same time, e.g. a customer-specific main memory and a general background memory, and receive suggestions from both (and you can decide which of these memories which is to take precedence if the same matching is found in both memories. You can also add a third memory that is only used for 100% matching and searching.
3. You can use three different glossaries (in text format) with direct automatic translation of these terms in the target segment if no match is found from the memory. You can also copy the translation for the glossary terms to the target segment with the same function that you use for copying of tags and numbers. It is very useful to set Glossary 1 to a glossary with customer-specific terms that have to be translated in a certain way (and then also activate the quality control function for that glossary so that Wordfast will warn you if a term in that glossary hasn't been translated correctly). Glossary 2 can then be a subject glossary and Glossary 3 a general glossary.
4. You can link to your favourite dictionary program and press Alt+Ctrl+D to look up a term directly in Webster's, WordFinder or Oxford, depending on which dictionary you have linked to.
5. You can use Alt+Ctrl+F to start any program of your choice – another dictionary or e.g. Internet Explorer to start searching directly in Google (or any Internet site with a search box).
6. You can search in several reference files at the same time with the keys Alt+Ctrl+N. These files don't necessarily have to be memory files, but can be glossaries or other references in various formats (.doc, .rtf, .xls, .txt, .bak, .htm). You can even set several different folders to be searched.
7. You can set Wordfast to automatically correct the quotation marks to the style used in your language (you don't have to change them manually every time).
8. You can (and should) save each project setting as a separate .ini file, which means that you can have a separate .ini file for each client, with all customer-specific settings (memories, glossaries, reference files, quality control, etc.). This also means that you can easily do a small job while working on a large job. You just switch .ini file while doing the smaller job and then switch back again to resume your large assignment, without worrying about changing memory and other settings.
9. If no matching is found in the memory for a complete segment, then a partial match can be proposed (five or more words in a row that is found in the same sequence in a segment in the memory). Very useful if a manual have been re-written and large sentences been broken up or shorter ones been joined.
10. You can easily select any text as a segment and press Alt+Shift+Down to use that selected text as a segment (it is useful if you want to use a longer or shorter segment than what is opened when you go to the next segment as usual).
11. You can mark any text that should not be translated with a temporary text attribute (e.g. marching red ants or double strikethrough).
12. It is possible to delete the suggested segment from the memory (Alt+Ctrl+Backspace) if you notice that it contains errors (you then do not have to make a note of the error so that you can edit the memory afterwards manually).
13. The memory file is in text format (*.txt) and this means that it is very easy to make changes in a memory if you find that you need to change the terminology (or if the client requests that certain changes is to be done to earlier translations). You can either open the memory in any text editor or use the included memory editor (it is recommended that you use the memory editor as it has many useful maintenance functions and it is possible to search and replace only in the translation if you change untranslated terms into a new translation).

I've probably forgotten something, but these are my reasons for preferring to use Wordfast.

If someone else know of a better tool, then I'm interested in hearing about it. My favourite functions in Wordfast are the automatic glossary translations and the quality control functions, and I haven't yet found any other tool that offer both of those functions.


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