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Advice on CAT tools
Thread poster: Nicky Over

Nicky Over  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:51
Member (2003)
French to English
Sep 29, 2006

I know nothing about CAT tools, and I am planning to learn about them at the Edinburgh conference. I have signed up for the 'extra' Trados day workshop, but I have no idea if Trados would be the one I would choose. Are CAT tools all so different that I should go to sessions on as many as possible to find out which one suits me best, or is one session enough because they are all similar? Any advice would be very welcome - thanks in advance.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:51
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
A rough overview Sep 29, 2006

Some CATs are used as an addition to MS Word, these are Wordfast, Trados and some others.
Others come with a special editor, like SDLX. DejaVu and Trados Tageditor (Trados works both in Word and in Tageditor). Then there is Transit, which uses also an own editor, but the translation memory technique is different from all other tools.
If you are used to Word, you could try out Wordfast, which is easy to learn (to my mind). Also most other tools have evaluation packages, which allow you to try them out without charge.
Trados has excellent demos for download.


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Nicky Over  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:51
Member (2003)
French to English
Thanks for the info Sep 29, 2006

Thanks very much for this. Do you think I need to learn about the different programs to choose between them, or are they so similar that is just a question of learning about one and then choosing on the basis of cost/ease of use with Word etc?

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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:51
German to English
+ ...
Make yourself unpopular Sep 29, 2006

Nicky Over wrote:
I know nothing about CAT tools, and I am planning to learn about them at the Edinburgh conference. I have signed up for the 'extra' Trados day workshop, but I have no idea if Trados would be the one I would choose. Are CAT tools all so different that I should go to sessions on as many as possible to find out which one suits me best, or is one session enough because they are all similar? Any advice would be very welcome - thanks in advance.

I would suggest you collect all the information you can about all of the programs available, and if possible make yourself unpopular by asking awkward questions (all of the programs have a fly or two in the ointment somewhere).
It is also worth considering what type of work you do. Do you get lots of repetition at the sentence level, heavy prose, literary, technical or legal texts etc.?

For the record, I landed with DV (now DVX) almost 7 years ago and have been a happy camper since then (although I have continued to ask awkward questions when I felt it necessary). My texts usually contain little repetition at the sentence level, but plenty of terminology and standard phrases (mainly law & architecture).

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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:51
German to English
Choice of tools... Sep 29, 2006 often dictated by the client, so you might find yourself working with one that you aren't too familiar with.
Wordfast is very easy to get started with. I also use SDLX in the 'Lite' version (free project editor for translators - it's the agent who needs the full version) occasionally when the need arises.
Try out as many as you can during their evaluation periods, as suggested elsewhere, I think.
Good luck

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Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:51
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Trados, SDL, MetaTexis etc. Sep 29, 2006

I bought Trados and SDL as a combi pack. And now find myself using mostly MetaTexis (, because it is so much easier to use while at the same time being compatible with Trados and Wordfast - no agency/client has every noticed...

It is so easy to import and export these files and TMs from/into Trados and Wordfast. MetaTexis costs a fraction of Trados, pocket money in comparison. And they let you try it out for free for 60 days. I also appreciate the very fast response from MetaTexis when I have a query.

I still use Trados for original Trados documents with footnotes, as Trados has a funny way of dealing with them. But I have been told there are ways around it. I don't use SDL much, but want to remedy that by attentind the workshop at the Edinburgh conference.

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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:51
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
OmegaT Sep 29, 2006

For someone who is just trying the water I'd advise OmegaT. You get a functional piece of software for free. However, I must warn that OmegaT may be not good for your work if your client(s) require Trados (and that happens).

Anyway, here's an extract from the current readme.txt to give you some thoughts:

1. Information about OmegaT

The most current info about OmegaT can be found at:

More information can be found on the following pages:

User support, at the Yahoo user group:
Where the archives are searchable without subscription.

Requests for Enhancements, at the SourceForge site:

Bug reports, at the SourceForge site:

2. What is OmegaT?

OmegaT is a Computer Assisted Translation tool. It is free, in the meaning
that you don't have to pay anything to be able to use it, even for
professional use, and in the meaning that you are free to modify it and/or
re-distribute it as long as you respect the user license.

OmegaT's main features are
- ability to run on any operating system supporting Java
- use of any valid TMX file as translation reference
- flexible sentence segmenting (using an SRX-like method)
- searches in the project and the reference translation memories
- searches in any directory including OmegaT-readable files
- fuzzy matching
- smart handling of projects including complex directory hierarchies
- support for glossaries (terminology checks)
- easy to understand documentation and tutorial
- localization in a number of languages.

OmegaT supports OpenDocument files, Microsoft Office files (using as a conversion filter), or StarOffice files, as
well as (X)HTML, Java localization files or plain text files.

OmegaT will automatically parse even the most complex source directory
hierarchies, to access all the supported files, and produce a target directory
with exactly the same structure, including copies of any non-supported files.

For a quick-start tutorial, launch OmegaT and read the displayed Instant Start

The user manual is in the package you just downloaded, you can access it from
the [Help] menu after starting OmegaT.

3. General notes about Java & OmegaT

OmegaT requires the Java Runtime Environment version 1.4 or higher be
installed on your system. It is available from:

Windows and Linux users may need to install Java if it is not already done.
MacOSX users have Java already installed on their machines.

On a properly installed machine, you should be able to launch OmegaT by
double-clicking the OmegaT.jar file.

After installing java you may need to modify your system path variable so that
it includes the directory where the 'java' application resides.

4. Contributions to OmegaT

To contribute to OmegaT development, get in touch with the developers at:

To translate OmegaT's user interface, user manual or other related documents,

And subscribe to the translators' list:

For other kind of contributions, subscribe first to the user group at:

6. Release details

Please see the file 'changes.txt' for detailed information about changes in
this and all previous releases.

New UI features (comparing to 1.0 OmegaT series):
- Find interface rewritten with enhanced functionality
- Main interface improved
- Ability to select a display font
- Full localization support
- Ability to jump to the next untranslated segment
- Rich customization of Format Filters behaviour
- User-customizable Segmentation
- Match/Glossary Window is united by a draggable split pane

File formats supported:
- Plain text
- OpenDocument /
- Java resource bundles (.properties)
- INI files (files with key=value pairs of any encoding)
- PO files
- DocBook documentation file format

Core changes:
- Flexible (Sentence) Segmentation
- File format filters may be created as plugins
- Refactored code with more comments
- Windows installer
- Attributes of HTML tags are translatable
- Full TMX 1.1-1.4b Level 1 compatibility

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Nicky Over  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:51
Member (2003)
French to English
Food for thought - thanks Sep 29, 2006

Thanks very much indeed to everyone who has contributed to answering my query. I shall look at all the replies, and decide what to do!

[Edited at 2006-09-29 19:08]

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Ehab Tantawy  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:51
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I think this will be very helpful for you ;) Sep 30, 2006

Hi Nicky Over

Please could you try this link it is very informative and comparative page to give you a collective overview for all types you heard/did not hear about yet.

Good Luck


[Edited at 2006-09-30 01:30]

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Tony M  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:51
French to English
+ ...
Sceptic! Sep 30, 2006

Nicky, here are a few of my thoughts, for what it's worth:

I tried to use SDLX once (an earlier version), but it was so un-intuitive, I now use the CD-ROM as a coaster for my tea mug — in which rôle it has proved indispensable!

I have been experimenting with Wordfast ever since quite early versions (its constantly-evolutionary approach is laudable, if somewhat disconcerting!), and I found it much more user-friendly and intuitive — I was able to get going and make it work right away, with minimal reading of the handbook.

BUT I found it unutterably slow, even on my quite fast PC, and especially with large documents; and in any case, I found the way of working slowed me up enormously compared with my normal method — it has to be said that the kind of work I do involves little or no repetition, but often quite complex sentence structures that do not lend themselves readily to segmentation.

I also found that, whilst it was very helpful for certain, fairly facile repeats, it also had all sorts of odd little quirks which were really irksome and time-wasting.

As a proof-reader who is very often asked to clean up other people's litter-trays, I have noticed a pattern of translations emerging that have been CAT-ted, a whole new style of English based on (in my case) French structures!

The proof of this in reverse is that my 'cleaned up' TMs have been used for subsequent translations — with grotesquely laughable results. The translation process is not as reciprocal as mere software might like to have us believe, in their reductio ad absurdum.

So, on the basis of admittedly only 2 experiences, plus a great deal of proofing on both tagged/segmented and cleaned files, I have to say that I am not impressed, and for the type of work I do, I have not considered the investment worthwhile. There are service providers who offer exports of segmented files for working on, and I find this gets me out of trouble for the few occasions when a client insists for some reason on the use of CAT; but mainly, I just refuse such clients anyway, they are usually looking to do things "on the cheap" and avoid paying for repetitions — not to mention the ethical issue of using me as an expensive translator to create a TM, and then giving it to other, cheaper translators for subsequent jobs. Oh yes, believe me, it does happen! But at least I get the proofing later...

Just one last point: I have had some clients argue that using CAT is essential for consistency; in my experience, this has not been born out in practice for 2 reasons:

1) The quality of most of the original FR texts I get is far from impeccably consistent in itself, and despite the joys of 'fluffy matching' (sick!), even the odd misplaced comma or semi-colon can throw the system into paroxysms of confusion (and bang goes the repeat count!)

2) My own natural, brain-based consistency is superior to most input — and the proof of this is that I have often been asked to correct CAT-processed texts specifically to improve the consistency!

So there you have my rather jaundiced view, FWIW

[Edited at 2006-09-30 09:59]

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