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Your opinion on Wordfast needed
Thread poster: myska
myska
Local time: 21:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 8, 2009

Hello,

my name is Martina Novotna and I am a postgraduate student of translation at the University of Bristol (England) currently working on a comparative analysis of two translation memory tools: Wordfast and Across. I very much hope that you would be willing to provide some opinion on this program. I would appreciate it very much.

Please feel free to be as descriptive as you like.

It should take only few minutes of your time while it would help me enormously in my evaluation and hopefully could influence future improvements of the program.

My main questions are: (I know that there are quite a few and I would be very grateful if you could answer all of them but I would be equally happy for any insight you might have about Wordfast. Therefore do not worry if you can't or don't want to answer all of the questions.)

How long have you been using translation memory tools for? (and for how long have you been using Wordfast?)

Why did you start using translation memory tools?

Why did you choose this program?

Are you satisfied with the program?

What do you like about it?

Is there anything you dislike?

Have you encountered any bugs? And if so, did you find that they were addressed adequately by the support group?

Is it the only program you use? And if not, what other programs do you use and for how long have you been using them? Is Wordfast your favourite and why?

If it isn't your favourite then which tool is and why?

How do you find the support provided by Wordfast (quick, helpful, insightful)?

Do you find the product to be user-friendly?

Do you perceive that it increases you productivity? And if not, why is that?

Plus, you are most welcome to write anything else you'd like to address.



Thank you so much for your time and your opinion. I value it very much! I shall let you all know the results.

With my best wishes,

Martina Novotna


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
a few points Apr 8, 2009

Dear Martina

IMO you'd rather have your questions numerated and specify how to reply you (email/ www/ via PROZ/ forum etc). Never mind, a short list of my answers:

1) I've been using WF (classic) for some 5 years;
2) I chose it for its tiny size and being free (though limited for small prj);
3) There're spots even in the Sun, so I can go with it;
4) Sudden halts and stops;
5) Rather many, but usually a backup is a solution;
6) I use only WF as CAT;
7) I have no 'favourite' software at all;
8) Tolerable support;
9) No user-friendly yet still handy;
10) The productivity depends on the task and sometimes it's not needed (e.g. Poetry, Songs, Datasheets, Multilanguage texts, very short passages etc)

Plus, I would like to have some ETA (estimated time of arrival) feature
Oh, and feature to fit target segment length less-or-equal to source (as software localization)

Cheers


[Редактировалось 2009-04-09 09:39 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My answers Apr 8, 2009

1. About 5 years (about 5 years)
2. I had a big, repetitive job and I had to choose between Wordfast and Wordfisher.
3. It was free.
4. Yes.
5. Ease of use, many functions, responsive developer.
6. It does not make coffee.
7. Yes. Yes.
8. No. OmegaT (3 years), Idiom (2 years), Transit (3 years).
9. N/A.
10. Helpful.
11. It's a bit geeky and kludgy, but it is mostly user-friendly, yes.
12. Yes.
13. N/A.


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
My answers Apr 9, 2009

1. 5 to 6 years ago.
2. I needed a program to handle Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files directly. And Wordfast seemed to be a reasonably priced solution.
3. Mostly.
4. Easy to use. Is being developed continuously.
5. Wordfast Classic runs on top of Microsoft Word that is a very bad program per se. Wordfast Pro is so far not fully mature.
6. Yes/yes.
7. I also use OmegaT (for 80 to 90% of my jobs) and Anaphraseus (more and more recently).
8. My favorite is OmegaT because it’s a) free, b) very robust, c) absolutely portable, d) better for projects with multiple files and repetitive jobs.
9. In most cases, quick and helpful.
10. Yes.
11. Yes.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My answers Apr 9, 2009

myska wrote: How long have you been using translation memory tools for? (and for how long have you been using Wordfast?)


2 1/2 years so far - WordFast only.

myska wrote: Why did you start using translation memory tools?


Believe it or not, peer pressure. Several colleagues/friends took it as a personal issue that a translator like me MUST use some CAT tool. I am quite thankful to them.

Nevertheless, my typical jobs comprise 0-8% repetitions, and no fuzzy matches.

myska wrote: Why did you choose this program?


On one side, cost/benefit, which is an analysis I do for every piece of hard or software I buy. I learned the lesson back in 1989: I bought a PostScript laser printer for USD 7K, and it paid for itself in just three months, because few people had one here at that time.

On the other hand, a profound aversion to Trados, developed by their questionable marketing strategies. Their insistent advertising tried to convince everybody that Trados would enable any "semiglot" to be a great translator at a very low cost. This led gullible outsourcers to completely ban translators who don't own Trados, even when it's all about translating handwritten docs or audio/video files.

I understand that Trados has its legitimate reasons to be, but these are far more scarce than the number of jobs where it is imperatively required.

myska wrote:Are you satisfied with the program?


On a 1-10 scale, I'd give it a 6.

myska wrote: What do you like about it?


It helps a lot in keeping me organized, puts original and translation on the same screen, and preserves most of MS Word formatting.

myska wrote: Is there anything you dislike?


First, that it's based on MS Word, which in spite of being the industry standard, is very bad as a word processor, and gets worse at every new version.

Considering present software standards, its interface is very user-unfriendly, and there is no user-friendly manual for WF that I know of.

myska wrote: Have you encountered any bugs? And if so, did you find that they were addressed adequately by the support group?


Most of WF's bugs can easily be traced to MS Word.

myska wrote: Is it the only program you use? And if not, what other programs do you use and for how long have you been using them? Is Wordfast your favourite and why?


It's the only CAT tool I use, if that's what you mean. I haven't tried any other so far.

myska wrote: If it isn't your favourite then which tool is and why?


I wouldn't call it favorite because it's associated with MS Word, a must requirement from the industry, but a very unstable, unreliable, unpredictable, and inefficient word processor.

I have WF's v6 installed, but haven't had the time to try it yet.

myska wrote:How do you find the support provided by Wordfast (quick, helpful, insightful)?


I haven't used it yet. The knowledge database needs some 'decyphering', but it works okay.

myska wrote: Do you find the product to be user-friendly?


That's its main weakness, however it becomes obvious that a good deal of its user unfriendliness stems from MS Word's erratic behavior.

myska wrote: Do you perceive that it increases you productivity? And if not, why is that?


It certainly does, otherwise I'd have deleted it long ago. However it's mostly useful to keep things organized and preserve formatting.


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myska
Local time: 21:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Muchas gracias Jose Apr 9, 2009

Thank you Jose,

for your opinion and the time you took to write it. I really appreaciate it and your insight is very valuable to my study. I find it very interesting that you are using TM tool yet your work hardly constitutes any repetitions if at all. You see, the common believe is that TM tools are developed for those who work on repetitive texts or updates. However, saying that there also seems to be a newly emerging belief that TM tools could be very useful even to those who do not belong to the above category. I find this belief very intresting and therefore I would like to ask you why is it that you find TM tools useful for your work?

Putting the translation memory aside some people simply use it for the terminology database it offers believing that it propagates consistency in their work and improves quality of their translation with the advantage that it is not taxed by the translation agencies or client with reduced fees for exact and fuzzy matches. However, that is only one opinion and may be it is not your reason. I would very much like to hear yours. Especially since you mentioned that one of the decisive points for your purchase of Wordfast was cost/benefit analysis. Therefore you must have found that working with Wordfast paid off. But then again this 'pay off' is mostly attributed to increased productivity via the use of translation memory, which would not be your case given the non-repetitive nature of your work. Did your productivity increased through the use of Wordfast? How? How did Wordfast pay off?

I am very excited to read your opinion again.

Thank you so much for your insight! I'll be glad to help in return if there is anything you'd like to know.

Martina Novotna


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myska
Local time: 21:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you all of you Apr 9, 2009

I haven't realized that there were many more posts beyond Jose's and therefore my deep appologies for thanking Jose only. I would like to thank all of you for your opinion and especially the time you took in writing it.

I'll be looking forward to more posts. I am hoping that this is just the beginning of an interactive exchange of opinions on one of the leading products on the market.

Thank you!

Martina


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
More answers Apr 9, 2009

myska wrote:

Thank you Jose,

for your opinion and the time you took to write it. I really appreaciate it and your insight is very valuable to my study. I find it very interesting that you are using TM tool yet your work hardly constitutes any repetitions if at all. You see, the common believe is that TM tools are developed for those who work on repetitive texts or updates. However, saying that there also seems to be a newly emerging belief that TM tools could be very useful even to those who do not belong to the above category. I find this belief very intresting and therefore I would like to ask you why is it that you find TM tools useful for your work?


My degree is in Industrial Mechanical Engineering. This means that once in my life I studied a subject named MTM - Methods Time Measurement. Though my early career was in industrial marketing (i.e. I never got directly involved with manufacturing processes), I got the idea.

Without WF I had to switch back-and-forth between the whole original and my translation all the time. With WF I'm automatically focused to one segment at a time. This is much more efficient, something akin to Henry Ford's assembly line concept.

Parallel to that, taking my always derogatory comments on MS Word, clients often want the original text formatting preserved. Formatting with PageMaker (my favorite software of all times) is quick, easy, and very rational, whilst it's definitely not with Word. So if WF helps me preserving most of it by default, this helps a lot!

myska wrote:
Putting the translation memory aside some people simply use it for the terminology database it offers believing that it propagates consistency in their work and improves quality of their translation with the advantage that it is not taxed by the translation agencies or client with reduced fees for exact and fuzzy matches. However, that is only one opinion and may be it is not your reason. I would very much like to hear yours. Especially since you mentioned that one of the decisive points for your purchase of Wordfast was cost/benefit analysis. Therefore you must have found that working with Wordfast paid off. But then again this 'pay off' is mostly attributed to increased productivity via the use of translation memory, which would not be your case given the non-repetitive nature of your work. Did your productivity increased through the use of Wordfast? How? How did Wordfast pay off?


I think I've explained most of it above, but there are some points to add.

I've always translated ideas, content, not necessarily words or phrases. There is a style issue involved here. My pair is EN-PT. While in English it's considered 'good' to repeat one same word several times, over and over again, to exhibit 'consistency', in Portuguese (at least Brazilian - I haven't a clue about the European variant) it displays poverty in vocabulary, which evokes a general impression of poor style. So, if not cleverly overridden, a TM may result in poor style in Portuguese.

The law of the least effort may lead fuzzy matches to contribute to monotony, getting the reader tired before we'd like them to be.

The cost/benefit analysis considered wear and tear mostly to my neck and eyes. In large jobs, those tiny time fragments added together mean significant time savings.

Another point is the price tag on software. As I understood it, Trados demands costly yearly updates, while WF costs half of it, and is good for a few years with free upgrades. Maybe my figures here are not so accurate, this is just a general idea.

My view of software costs can be simply illustrated with one example. IMHO if the latest version of Microsoft Windows always cost USD 50-100 worldwide (regardless of upgrade/first buy), there would hardly be one single illegal copy of it on the planet, and Microsoft would be several times more profitable.

I keep most of my terminology in my brain (I'm not using 'memory' here to avoid confusion). That's what helps me to speak both my working (and other) languages. If I'm doing e.g. sight translation I'll need it quick, no time to open a laptop and start searching my TMs. I think that's what a professional translator is intended for.

There should be a blossoming profession, something like a "Trados operator", who would work mostly updating technical literature making heavy use of TMs and some limited translation skills/experience. It would be a really fast track for beginning translators, who would quickly learn a lot by example. But I've never seen nor heard of such a thing.

To give you an idea on productivity, though I have no pre-WF figures, my rated average is 3,000 words/day. That's what I use to make time estimates. However my record so far was 9,065 words in one day (checking on the next day). Amazingly, it was not into my native language, and the client - who has 'better' diplomas than mine, and in more languages as well - couldn't stop praising my quality. I have no doubt that adding together all those tiny fragments of saved time, thanks to WF, was what made it possible.

[Edited at 2009-04-09 13:08 GMT]


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:58
English to Czech
+ ...
Online survey Apr 14, 2009

Hi Martina,
I suggest that you create an online survey (e.g. www.surveymonkey.com) and publish a link here. This method could increase the response rate to your questions and make it easier for you to collect and organize the data you need for your thesis.
My question: why compare Wordfast and across? Is there any reason why you have selected these two specific and very different systems?

Kind regards,

Stanislav


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Offtopic: Online surveys Apr 15, 2009

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:
I suggest that you create an online survey (e.g. www.surveymonkey.com) and publish a link here. This method could increase the response rate to your questions...


Perhaps it will, but I would not have answered the OP's questions on an online survey because I know no-one else would read it. My answers would therefore be more hurried and less accurate. It is also interesting to read what others have read. Online surveys are good for multiple choice questions. If an online survey contains a text box, I often type "N/A".


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Dr Pangloss
Local time: 22:58
Why do translators use CAT tools? I don't really know... Apr 16, 2009

I imposed using Trados in a translation team and used it for some five years, building up a 60,000-segment translation memory. Recently, I have been using Wordfast on Macintosh computers.

For me Trados was a sort of trap. The more I invested in it, the less I felt I could abandon it. I liked the idea of building up a valuable and useful translation memory, but I hated all the time and money I wasted managing it. It's touted benefit of finding previously-translated material for re-use was of little benefit to me.

The features I found useful were that:

* The translation memory constituted a permanent record of all the documents we translated, and seemed a valuable asset,
* The translation memory constitutes a sort of automatically-updated terminology list (accessed via the "concordance search" function).
* It makes it very easy to translate a new version of a previously-translated document as only the changed parts are then presented for translation.
* It automatically presents each segment for translation without having to use the mouse, which is actually quite useful.
* If, in a segment, the only difference with a previously translated one is in the figures it contains, it automatically swaps in the new figures, a nice touch.

Honestly, on balance, I don't think it was worth it. And what is true of Trados is true of Wordfast, its weaker clone.


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:58
English to Czech
+ ...
You have answered your question yourself... Apr 21, 2009

Dr Pangloss wrote:
* The translation memory constituted a permanent record of all the documents we translated, and seemed a valuable asset,
* The translation memory constitutes a sort of automatically-updated terminology list (accessed via the "concordance search" function).
* It makes it very easy to translate a new version of a previously-translated document as only the changed parts are then presented for translation.
* It automatically presents each segment for translation without having to use the mouse, which is actually quite useful.
* If, in a segment, the only difference with a previously translated one is in the figures it contains, it automatically swaps in the new figures, a nice touch.


That's what CAT tools are all about. Any other use is waste of time and money. Anyway, to get most of CAT tools, clients need to be informed (I try to avoid the word "educated") by translators about how to prepare their documents.

Well, consider a 750k-word software help (say 500 HTML files) with some 5,000 GUI terminology. The repetition rate is 30%. How do you ensure translation consistency without CAT tools? How do you ensure correct terminology is used throughout the entire project without CAT tools? Quite impossible. Still not talking about time saved on repetitions...


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myska
Local time: 21:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your opinion and others please feel welcome to contribute to our discussion Apr 23, 2009

Thank you, all of you, for your varied opinion.

I don't seem to have the nice option to quote what others have said as most of you do so I will quote you my way.

I would like to thank Stanislav Pokorny for his kind contribution and especially for his offer of help with my thesis. Well, I must say that I would love to write a thesis on translation memory tools but unfortunatelly I have to content myself only with writing a postgraduate essay on this topic. I am, however, very passionate about the whole thing and that is the reason why I've initiated this and other discussions on Proz.

I would also like to thank Samuel Murray for his encouragement.
You wrote:
"Perhaps it will, but I would not have answered the OP's questions on an online survey because I know no-one else would read it. My answers would therefore be more hurried and less accurate. It is also interesting to read what others have read. Online surveys are good for multiple choice questions. If an online survey contains a text box, I often type "N/A".

You are right. That is why I decided to approach translators in a more personal way. That is also why I emailed several translators the same questionaire yet approaching each and every one individually by calling them by their names and sending the email to them only rather then opting to send it by bulk. I simply prefer the personal touch. But that is not to say that I don't find Stanislav's suggestion useful. On the contrary. Should I decide to write my thesis on this topic, I will certainly look into online surveys.
And thank you Samuel for your comment: "It is also interesting to read what others have read." I think that you meant to write "what others have writen" ? That is exactly what I was hoping for, to make this beneficial for all.

I am hoping to see many more responses.

I would also like to clarify wrongly chosen wording in my original post. I am not really looking into comparing the two tools: Wordfast and Across in a way of offering a definite guide to which tool is better. No way. Frankly, that is impossible since every tool is different and unique in its own respect. What I am trying to do is to evaluate them and there is a huge different between a comparison and an evaluation. By the means of this little discussion I am just trying to collect translators' opinion on the individual tool, on what their likes and dislikes with the aim to draw some interesting conclusions that are linked to the TM tools in general.

Please do join our discussion.

Thank you,

Martina)


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:58
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
happy with wordfast Apr 23, 2009

myska wrote:



How long have you been using translation memory tools for? (and for how long have you been using Wordfast?)
1 year and 1 year

Why did you start using translation memory tools?
To see if it would help improve quality and productivity

Why did you choose this program?
More affordable than Trados, yet fairly popular

Are you satisfied with the program?
Very

What do you like about it?
The biggest advantage is that it is easier to look at the source and target text simultaneously. The way it preserves formatting in Word and Excel is also a big plus, and the ability to automatically identify glossary matches and search for "context" matches.

Is there anything you dislike?
It can be slow, esp. with tabular material and Excel files.

Have you encountered any bugs? And if so, did you find that they were addressed adequately by the support group?
I found a bug related to Word's "track changes" feature, and got quick and personalized response from the developer team themselves on the matter.

Is it the only program you use? And if not, what other programs do you use and for how long have you been using them? Is Wordfast your favourite and why?
I've used SDLX-lite and a proprietary system developed by one of the agencies I work with occasionally. SDLX-lite I've used for about a year, and the other one (called TransTool) for about 6 months. SDLX-lite I despise, and TransTool is ok.

If it isn't your favourite then which tool is and why?

How do you find the support provided by Wordfast (quick, helpful, insightful)?
I have gotten quick and personalized responses every time I've had a problem (the abovementioned track changes bug, and also problems with licensing).

Do you find the product to be user-friendly?
It took me a couple of months of having the software and not using it consistently until I actually "grasped" how the thing basically worked. Once it clicked, it became quite easy to use. I am sure there are hundreds of under-the-hood features that I don't use regularly use and that are a little hard to learn about. And I occasionally create segmenting errors and they are the devil to fix. But basically, once you "get it," it's easy to maneuver in.

Do you perceive that it increases you productivity? And if not, why is that?
Absolutely. And to address Jose's comment and your follow up as to why it is useful even if you don't do work with a lot of repetitions: for one thing, the "context" feature makes it easy to look up how you've handled particular words in the past--even if they're not glossary-worthy terms. And not having to think about formatting, or deleting any text if you're using the type-over method, is a time-saver in and of itself.

I do about 75% engineering and legal texts, and there the repetitions and matches features are helpful. But the other 25% is general or academic social sciences/humanities with few repetitions, and even there, I would not want to work without it.

Basically, I'm really happy with Wordfast. I've used it on projects where I'm working back and forth with colleagues who have Trados successfully. I think the only thing I can't do is take on projects where the PM requires TagEditor. Every now and then I wonder if I should have Trados (which I don't think would increase my productivity, but might increase my clientele). But this is not the fault of the software--rather, the clients who think that their project can only be handled by a translator with Trados.

Thank you so much for your time and your opinion. I value it very much! I shall let you all know the results.

With my best wishes,

Martina Novotna


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