Adam Thomson wrote:
What are people's experience of Trados, Wordfast and other programmes? How are they helpful (or not)?
*** Over the last year, I have had experience with four different programs - SDLX, Deja Vu, Wordfast, and Trados.
I do find that using a TM tool (once you get used to their quirks and tricks) is very, very helpful for the day-to-day translation process. The biggest benefits, IMO, are:
1. You're less likely to miss bits out, as the TM tool breaks your source text into "segments", usually on the basis of each sentence, and shows you an empty matching segment into which you type your translation. Because of this, I will now always use a CAT tool even in non-repetitive texts.
2. The memory: as you'll know, especially with technical texts, there are often lots or repeated, or very similar sentences, or headings or passages. Once your TM tool has "remembered" a particular sentence pair, it will then offer you a ready-made translation for a repeated or similar source text sentence later on. This saves massive amounts of time in some texts, though you have to watch out for small differences, of course.
3. You can get more work. Many agencies insist that you use a CAT tool, as they may have a previous "memory" from work done for the same client, and will want you to use that on a new job, so as to guarantee consistency.
Trados gives the impression of being the "industry leader". I understand that some clients make having Trados a condition of a translator getting business.
Wordfast claims to be much cheaper and seems to imply that it can do just as good a job as Trados can.
You're largely right on both of these points. I used SDLX first, simply because it was available at the university where I did my MA in translation. However, I didn't find it very user-friendly, and it was very "buggy" when producing a glossary - a special task I was doing at the time. Having looked at the ProZ CAT fight and other sources, I therefore thought I would try Deja Vu, as lots of people rated it very highly and at that time you could download an almost fully-functional version for a free month's trial. (Maybe you still can - see www.atril.com
) I found it relatively easy to use, and I successfully completed some real client translations with it with good results, with a range of different file formats. I therefore purchased a new copy of it.
Since then, however, I did notice that there was much more demand, say on the ProZ job board, for translators with Trados, but also had heard good recommendations for Wordfast.
I therefore downloaded the free version of Wordfast (www.wordfast.net
), and found this even easier to use and more pleasing to the eye than Deja Vu. Even the free version (which is you can use for as long as you like) produced very good results, at least for straightforward Word documents.
I have since used it with some clients I know well for Trados jobs, but there are major limitations, I believe, as to the compatibility. It cannot, for example, open the latest "TMW" memories produced by Trados. This caused me major difficulties on a rush-job for a new client a few weeks ago, as even the very old version of Trados I had bought could not help. I also found that Wordfast can disrupt some regular MS Word functions in unpredicatable ways.
For these reasons - mainly because of the high volume of technical translation work out there that does specify Trados - I recently bought a 2nd hand copy of Trados 5.5 Freelance after advertising on the Smart Shoppers forum here (for less than half of the price of a new version). I believe that any version from 5 onwards should be acceptable for most agencies.
So my advice for you in the short term would be:
1. To get used to using a TM, download and install Wordfast from www.wordfast.net.
Try this on a few straightforward Word documents - this also gets you use to a similar screen format to that used by Trados. A nice guide to getting you started is given on www.your-translations.com
I would also suggest you try the free download of Deja Vu for a month - this has its own special user interface which sits outside Word. (See www.atril.com
You could also download the month's trial of Trados, but I find the restrictions they place on memory size, etc for the demo version just too restrictive.
And then finally, make your decision based on your preference and on your likely clients' requirements.
If you have mainly end-user clients, then buy the full version of whichever one you prefer, as they will be unlikely to specify a particular CAT tool, but it will still speed up your work
If you deal with agencies, then discuss this with them. I suspect that you will find that most of them specify Trados, and if this is so, then bite the bullet and buy it (but 2nd hand!). As mentioned, I personally have found that neither Wordfast or Deja Vu are really truly compatible enough with Trados to act as a subsitute.
Hope this helps!
Finally, note that this is all personal opinion, and some people swear by SDLX, or other tools not mentioned, or insist that Wordfast or Deja Vu are sufficiently compatible with Trados as long as you communicate properly with your client.