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CAT tools for PDF files
Thread poster: Allround

Allround  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:39
Member (2002)
English to Danish
+ ...
May 13, 2013

I have a new client who only sends PDF files to be translated, and he requires the layout to be identical to the original PDF file.
Does anyone have any experience translating PDF files using a CAT tool, they I would love to hear which to chose for the best end-result.
Thank you so much.


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:39
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
PDF are not source files May 13, 2013

Allround wrote:

I have a new client who only sends PDF files to be translated, and he requires the layout to be identical to the original PDF file.
Does anyone have any experience translating PDF files using a CAT tool, they I would love to hear which to chose for the best end-result.


You need to educate your client about what source files are and what output files are.
PDF are output files to lock the formatting. That's it. I spent 2 years convincing many depts of various large companies to stop attempting to send PDF output files for source content which could be made available in more easily accessible containers.

This very question is the reason for one of my answers in a new book about the state of affairs of translation tools today. Translation tools enhancements advance slowly because professional translators continually want to continue working in text containers that were not designed for handling multilingual content management (MS Word, PPT and Adobe PDF).
So development teams of so many translation tools spend their time trying to develop content extractors and reinsertion modules for these containers which really aren't intended for export and import but are mainly good for input plus final modifications and then publish.

Many technical authors and writers who have realized the waste have moved on to other authoring tools that handle all of this more easily<

You will spend too much time with content extraction, reimport and reformatting, and if you do that then you should be charging your customer an hourly fee for each of those topics.

The best thing is to simply have a good explanation why it is a bad idea for each customer who wants to provide PDF files. Persuasion can be done. Been there and done that effectively.


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Allround  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:39
Member (2002)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You're right May 13, 2013

...and I did ask my client for the original files (inDesign or Framemaker or which ever), but he simply replied that this was the format they received from the provider, so the only format they have.
I did manage to work in Wordfast, but the resulting PDF looked horribly messy, so I was hoping that another CAT tool was slightly more developed than Wordfast and could deliver perfect or near perfect result.


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:39
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
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Avoid PDF May 13, 2013

Allround wrote:

I was hoping that another CAT tool […] could deliver perfect or near perfect result.



Stop searching - this doesn't exist. You'll always need a considerable amount of extra work. If PDFs is really all you can get get, make sure you charge your client an appropriate surcharge - you'll be surprised to see that often your client will suddenly be able to produce editable source files after all. If not, at least you'll be paid for any extra work.


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Juvenal Neto
Brazil
Local time: 02:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
PDF files translated with SDL Trados May 13, 2013

Allround wrote:

I was hoping that another CAT tool […] could deliver perfect or near perfect result.



Well, I had to translate pdf files twice using a CAT tools. Based on my limited experience, the one I got the best results with was SDL Trados. The target text were far from perfect (e.g. peculiar line breaks), but they were reasonable enough and I could fix it afterwards with no major difficulties.

I also tried it with memoQ, but failed miserably.

I hope my experience may somehow help you.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Typist, I'm afraid May 13, 2013

Allround wrote:
Does anyone have any experience translating PDF files using a CAT tool, they I would love to hear which to chose for the best end-result.


I'm afraid you're going to hire a typist to type out the text and format the text for you in a way that you can translate with a CAT tool.


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SDL Community  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:39
English
Generally I'd agree with the others... May 13, 2013

... as PDF is not the best format for translation. However, if you have a copy of Studio sometimes it's worth a try as the built-in converter will attempt to mirror the formatting. When you do this sometimes you'll get lucky and won't see a plethora of tags... sometimes you won't. But if there are lots of tags you may also find that saving the source file from Studio, which will give you the formatted Word file version, allows you to clean up the tags quite a bit without destroying too much of the formatting. So, select all the text in the Word file with ctrl+A and then press ctrl+spacebar .

Not perfect... and not always effective, but if you have Studio sometimes this works quite well. It really depends on the quality of the PDF.

Regards

Paul


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:39
Member (2004)
English to German
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Infix PDF Editor May 13, 2013

The only program that allows a workflow where you can preserve the original layout of the PDF as much as possible is Infix PDF Editor.

http://www.iceni.com/


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:39
German to English
+ ...
Various PDF conversion options May 13, 2013

I know that DVX2 has a PDF import filter. Like the SDL product, it is worth checking, and sometimes the results will be good, but everything depends on the quality of the imported PDF file.
It may also be worth converting the PDF file to Word with a tool such as Solid PDF Tools or Abbyy FineReader. Again, the results will vary depending on the quality of the PDF file. If you get a good result with one of these tools (i.e. with accurate text and a good layout), you can import that version into your CAT tool.
I assume that your PDF files contain genuine text, not just a scanned image. I believe that CAT tools only convert genuine PDF files created from other computer-generated files, not scanned images. Some PDF converters can handle scanned images, so which tool you need depends on the files you receive.

In almost every case, converting a PDF file to Word via a CAT tool or with a dedicated PDF conversion tool will at best produce an imperfect file which needs manual adjustments to the text flow and layout. If your client demands an emulation in Word of the PDF layout, it is probably advisable to charge a layout fee in addition to the translation fee. And if your client is less than helpful and says "just type it to this layout and don't bore me with PDF conversion", then I would suggest that this client is hardly worth having (unless the client pays you in gold or has some other unique advantage).


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:39
French to English
+ ...
Aaaagh May 13, 2013

I've just received a 519-page pdf document from a client with a request for translation. My normal tack is to extract the content using Abbyy (or Solid for editable pdf files, which this most definitely wasn't), but a quick glance through showed lots of diagrams, tables, some more legible than others, handwritten pages and a mishmash of text, some clear, some not so. I put it through Abbyy with very little hope and the 49-page output, most of which was a string of spurious letters, confirmed my worst premonitions. Needless to say, I turned it down. There's no way you can even estimate the word count properly on a pdf of that size with that sort of mixed content, so how the client had come up with their estimate, I don't know.

For a straightforward text, I find the extraction technique, then putting through Wordfast or Trados works fine, although you often have to repair line breaks as you go. Abbyy usually produces a good layout, close to the source layout, though, and Solid can be even better, but so few pdfs are editable that it's often not an option.

Like others, I apply a set pdf surcharge and that can be enough to make the original document miraculously appear - but I've had too many bad experiences with formatting pdfs to be tempted to take on something of this magnitude.

[Edited at 2013-05-13 21:31 GMT]


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Heartsome Support
Local time: 12:39
First convert to doc then translate as usual May 14, 2013

Usually, If translate PDF with CAT directly, the converted file may contain lots of tags, this will possibility cause much troubles.
Recommend first convert the PDF to Word file with Solid Convert PDF, then must remember to clean word files with free TransTools or paid codezapper, this will reduce lots of tags.


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:39
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
No such tool exists May 14, 2013

So, what you are looking for is a CAT tool to take a PDF file and translate it and come up with an identical PDF file but in your target language? I am afraid that there is no tool of this kind in existence. PDF files pose a lot of problems for translators and should be charged accordingly.

If, however, some company is able to make a tool like you are searching for, they will definitely make some serious cash.

[Edited at 2013-05-14 07:13 GMT]


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Isadora Vital
Brazil
Local time: 02:39
Member (2016)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Infix Jun 23, 2016

I use Infix to edit my PDF files. It is amazing!! you should try it!

http://www.iceni.com/


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Fedor Loenko  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 09:39
English to Russian
+ ...
Trados (2015) Jun 27, 2016

I really don't like Trados, but it deals with pdf-conversion even better than Finereader.
Of course the result is not ideal but there are no losses of data (such losses are common for other CAT-tools) at least.

Definetly you'll need an editor (human being) after the job is done. And (s)he will not be happy with such job in this case, I guarantee. But it is the only possible workflow if pre-editing of source files is not made.

My experience showed the following rating of tools for preparing pdf-files for translation:
1. Trados 2015
2. Trados 2014
3. MS Word
4. Finereader
5. Others (similarly bad results in average, including memoq, wordfast and dejavu).

I haven't tried CafeTran and MateCat yet, maybe they will surprise me. I like these tools.


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GoranR
Serbia
Local time: 05:39
Serbian to English
+ ...
NITRO PDF Jun 27, 2016

I have already translated several of user manual's for cars of various brands. It is time consuming, and it takes a while to get to know all the quirks and tools of the program but i can make the translation look identical to the original.

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