Is investing time and effort into learning Across worthwhile?
Thread poster: myska
Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 17, 2009


could anybody please help me? I am currently evaluating Across Personal Edition 4 (SP3d) for my postgraduate essay. However, I found myself facing a question that I find difficult to answer by myself since I am not a professional translator yet and thus I don't quite yet know how the real business works.

My concern regards the usability of Across. I came to really like the program and I think that it has some great strengths that make the considerable steep and longish learning curve "worthwhile". This "worthwhile" bit is what I need help with. Let me explain. Can you as a freelance translator simply select a tool that you really like (for its functions, file support, translating environment etc.)? Or is such a selection in the real business dictated by the agencies and clients? How worthwhile is it then investing time and effort into learning a tool like Across? Is the future of this great tool pretty much dependent on how many agencies are using it?

I know that Across is very popular with agencies in Germany (quite obviously since Germany is the cradle of this tool). However, I don't think that it enjoys this much of a popularity elsewhere.

Can you please help?

Thank you,


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Desdemona7  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:19
German to Swedish
+ ...
It's worth it to learn Across! May 17, 2009

Hi Myska,
I don't know if this is the answer to your question, and:
I started translating in Across only recently, on the initiative of a non-german client.
When I bought Trados, it was also on the initiative of a client. In my experience the clients decide which software I should use for translating. Evenso it seems to me that many jobs lie in Across, and I think it's worth it to learn this program.

Regards Desdemona7

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Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank you Desdemona May 17, 2009

Desdemona7 wrote:

Evenso it seems to me that many jobs lie in Across, and I think it's worth it to learn this program.

Dear Desdemona,

thank you for your reply.

To explain myself in a better way. Since I am not a freelance translator yet (student), I do not know whether you are pretty much free to choose TM tool or whether this choice is dictated by agencies and clients. I do expect that agencies and clients dictate this to some degree but I wasn't sure whether this happens only lets say 50% of the time or even more often.

thank you


Any more views?

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Local time: 00:19
English to German
+ ...
As a freelancer you decide - and bear the consequences May 17, 2009

myska wrote:
Since I am not a freelance translator yet (student), I do not know whether you are pretty much free to choose TM tool or whether this choice is dictated by agencies and clients. I do expect that agencies and clients dictate this to some degree but I wasn't sure whether this happens only lets say 50% of the time or even more often.

Dear Myska,
as a freelancer you are free to decide what you do/buy, agencies can't force you to buy a programme.
However, agencies are free not to give you work if you don't meet their requirements, which include having software they want you to use on the job.

So the decision to buy Across (or any other) is influenced by, among others, these questions:

How much does it cost? How much time does it take to learn how to use it?
Will investing in this particular "tool" get you enough jobs in a certain period of time to get a good "return on investment", meaning: will it bring in the money you spend buying it and the money you "lose" during the time you can't work because you're learning to use it - and then some - in an acceptable period of time?

So you have to analyse
if Across is demanded for the type of texts you are specializing in and how frequently,
how often you can't bid for a job because you don't have it and
estimate how much money you are "losing" because of this.

If Across is required only rarely and you can afford to forego the jobs requiring it, that's it.
If it is required frequently and you can't bid on most of the jobs in your area of specialisation, and thus can't earn any money, then you should seriously think about buying it.

The decision in the end is up to you. Nobody can promise that jobs will come to you just because you have the tool. Having it will just give you a chance to bid for jobs that require it.

[Edited at 2009-05-17 16:08 GMT]

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Louisa Berry
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:19
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Across is a very nice tool May 17, 2009

I started using Across, mainly as when I was starting out as a freelancer, I was completely broke and had no option of buying Trados or anything similar and Across is free for freelancers.

I really like it and find it easy to use, I havent done any of the free online tutorials that Across offer, but I mostly taught myself. There is a lot of free support as well which is nice, especially as they dont make you pay for the product.

I have never used Trados or Wordfast but have dabbled in Metatexis and OmegaT and I prefer Across as it seems more user friendly and has more functions. From reading forum posts (there are a lot of forum posts comparing different CAT tools that I recommend you read) it seems that most people's intial impression is that they must have Trados as thats what every one asks them to have.

With across you can input (or sometimes input having converted it first) most other file types and work in across and produce something in the same/similar format than the original. (sorry im not making much sense here!)

A lot of agencies and clients seem to insist on a certain CAT tool (usually TRADOS but not always) but sometimes this is because they think Trados must be the best as its the market leader or they dont realise that the same thing can be done in a different CAT tool. If I want to work with someone like that I normally explain that I mainly work with Across and that the output will be the same. Most people normally accept this. Some agencies insist you work with a specific CAT tool, and if you dont you cant do the job. I usually find that theres enough work out there so that missing out on this job doesnt matter. Also I have seen (but not personally experienced) that some agencies say in their job postings that you have to work with X CAT tool, but they can arrange a discount for you if you wish to acquire it.

Basically what I'm trying to say, that as a freelancer, its best to base your choice of CAT tool on whatever you find works best for you, try out a few if possible (some have free 30 day versions etc) and keep the ones you like working in. Different people suit different things.

I hope this makes sense!


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Hi myska, May 17, 2009

Perhaps you better start a poll to get more precise answers to your question:-)

I myself work currently with Wordfast, although I have recently installed Across and am trying to get along with it. I am really impressed by its possibilities, too, and its customer service is absolutely striking!

I for one am mostly free to use whatever CAT tool I want, if ever. Only one colleague who works with Trados needs uncleaned files and I send in my Wf files wich are fully compatible.

That's my experience which is certainly not representative, but it would be really interestig to know which percentage of translators is free to use whatever CAT they like, if at all.

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Juan Gaviria  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Across is worthwhile May 18, 2009

Hello Myska,

I, as well as you, finished one of my last subjects in my translator's career going over Across as a CAT tool, and let me tell you that it was a great thing that I found this CAT tool before I started off as a freelancer because it has made things muche easier. Across is an excellent product for freelancers like you and me, and on top of that is free and their customer service is amazing and very reliable. I have seen other CAT tools and Across has been the best one so far.

Hope I was of some help.

[Edited at 2009-05-18 02:07 GMT]

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Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:19
German to English
Across for freelancers May 18, 2009

Hi Myska,

At you can supposedly download across free of charge (across for freelancers) I haven't tried it yet but I intend to. I'm primarily a wordfast user and am currently trying out the new version. If across is truly free then, that would be one less investment to worry about. So the only real investment you would have is that of learning time.
As Christel mentioned there are other tools that are compatible with Trados, which I think a lot of clients aren't aware of and only is an issue if they client want's an unclean file or you're using a TM supplied by the client. If you have to deliver a finished document (by that I mean a clean one), it shouldn't matter which tool is used.

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Uwe Schwenk
Local time: 17:19
English to German
Across for freelancers 2 May 18, 2009


yes across is free and the only thing for you to do is to learn it. As for it being worthwhile, I say yes and as stated before I have no regrets having switched to it completely last year.

However, in the end it comes down to what the translator wants to do now as well as down the raod.

Some translators add it as another tool, and others like myself make a total switch. Thats a decision each and everyone has to make and in order to come to a conclusion, I would recommend to download the trial version and work with it to get your own impression.


[Edited at 2009-05-18 14:14 GMT]

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United Kingdom
Local time: 23:19
French to English
+ ...
The agency's view Nov 17, 2009

As I work for a translation company, I can say that it is useful for us if our translators use the same software that we do, so we don't have to spend so much time converting TMs from one format to another, so we can revise within the bilingual file and so we can more easily support our translators if they are having technical problems.

It gives us more control over process as we can create the bilingual file in the first place, locking out segments that should not be translated and testing to ensure that the file will convert back, and text analysis is based on the same algorithms.

With regard to across, my company is thinking about the possibility of making use of it as it looks like it has useful remote access possibilities for Freelancers to work on centrally held files and TMs, but one of our concerns is whether enough translators will be willing to make use of across (even though it's free) to make it a practical solution.

This is pretty much the reverse of your issue, and therefore makes it something of a chicken and egg situation.

If I was a freelancer, I would snap up any free software (Across, SDLX Lite if still possible, other 'Lite' versions) I could get hold of (provided there are no conflicts), thereby making myself more flexible to client requests, and then look into the prospects of investing in one of the major players, particularly if a client preferred that software.

However, I am aware that a number of freelancers seem to be reluctant to use anything other than their tried and trusted programs: many Trados users will not work with SDLX and vice versa, even though provided together.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:19
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Not so wildly enthusiastic Nov 18, 2009

It's funny how different people have such different reactions to the same software. I find Across hard to learn, hard to use, slow, very poor documentation/explanation, poor GUI. Yes, it has lots of bells and whistles, but getting them to work properly has been (is) a real challenge for me. I have found it useless for doing alignments. Building the glossary is really confusing, and when I tried to export the glossary to use in another CAT tool, it didn't work. It requires Windows, whereas I prefer to work in Linux. Yes, the customer service is very good, especially given that it's free to freelancers.

On the other hand, OmegaT is really easy, quick to set up, clear and simple GUI, multi-platform (Windows/MAC/Linux), easy to install upgrades (Across upgrade to version 5 was a real pain), and also free. The only problem I am having with it involves OpenOffice Writer (it can't use Word documents directly; you have to convert to OOo and then back again). OOo is giving me formatting problems, to the extent that when I get a document with complex formatting like tables or equations, I tend to use Across.

I have never tried one of the behemoths like Trados. For someone who knows Trados, Across is probably easy.

I think you should experiment with different systems, and see how it goes. There are quite a few free ones, and all of them have free trial periods. And yes, if you are not a computer geek, it takes time to learn one of these things.

Good luck.

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