Is there a need for multiple CAT tools?
Thread poster: DJHartmann

DJHartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Oct 5

I'm coming to the end of my 3 year Wordfast license and am wondering, after my very positive experience with it, whether it's even worth considering other CATs?

What is the opinion of those who have multiple licenses for this expensive software?


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
Eye of the beholder Oct 6

DJHartmann wrote:

I'm coming to the end of my 3 year Wordfast license and am wondering, after my very positive experience with it, whether it's even worth considering other CATs?

What is the opinion of those who have multiple licenses for this expensive software?


What one person considers expensive may be a bargain to someone else. That applies to anything used as a tool. Would I be happy with a $2.00 toothbrush or a $6 toothbrush? A $5 task chair or a $50 one?

Different texts and different clients require different workflows and tools. It's best to be the versatile translator and not a cheap one who relies on freeware and obsolete tools. But it's in the eye of the beholder. I suppose a recent college graduate can ill afford to purchase a software program for $400 a license when cheaper, basic options exist.

On the other hand, paying for quality tools (which usually involves investing in brand-recognized programs and tools) adds to the professional image we all try to cultivate. Taking a page from the book of a sister profession, graphic design, a single license of Adobe InDesign used to cost more than $400 (and even more years ago). Now Adobe has a subscription structure, typically $40/month for a single program; they have student discounts starting at $20/month (they also have yearly subscription rates). Now, we all like to draw comparisons but we often forget to make sensible ones. For instance, if I consider a Trados 2017 license for $400 (an example, I don't know the exact price right now), I may feel tempted to compare it to a) the monthly cost of food for one person in my household, b) a set of four new tires (tyres) for my car, or c) a one-way airfare from New York City to London, UK. However, those comparisons are useless.

And to answer your question, it's a qualified yes: you need multiple CAT or TEnT tools if you want to grow professionally as a translator (that is, serve different clients in different specializations and markets).


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CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 10:42
I translate everything in CafeTran Oct 6

I translate everything in CafeTran: projects from Transit, Studio, memoQ and Déjà Vu.

However, I have licenses for these other tools and use them to prepare the projects for exchange with CafeTran and do an extra QA before delivering them.


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:42
English to French
+ ...
Why change? Oct 6

If your current software meets your needs why would you change?
Do you sometimes struggle to comply with client files formats?
Do you turn down jobs because you cannot manage have the appropriate format?
Do you miss QA, terminology management or others which are not part of your current software?
Only you can answer your question. MInd you, some serious translators even don(t have any CAT at all.

I was a happy Wordfast user until a client asked me to take a huge IDML project - so I changed for memoQ and I am now a happy memoQ user


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Michiel Leeuwenburgh  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:42
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
100% agree with nordiste Oct 6

Only you can answer this question for yourself.
I completely understand why many translators prefer to use multiple CAT tools. It makes you more versatile and gives more opportunities to work with many different clients with different preferences/requirements.
Personally, I have never used anything else than Wordfast and I am completely fine with that. Considering my particular work and client base, I don't see the value in owning several expensive CAT licenses. Firstly because Wordfast is compatible with other tools and secondly, I don't feel I am missing out on too much business by refusing work for which other CAT tools are required. And last but not least, I still do a lot of work without CAT.
My advise is: weigh up the amount of work which you do with Wordfast, the amount which you don't need to do with any CAT tool and the amount of work for which other CAT tools are required which you refuse and/or would like to accept. Based on that analysis you should consider purchasing another CAT license.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:42
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
One or two Oct 6

I 'grew up' with Trados from way back when the Workbench version used to freeze up... and at one point Wordfast was a very useful backup.

At that time they functioned similarly, but when it came to renewing my Wordfast licence, I let it lapse, because Trados had become far more stable, and then I only had to keep my TMs up to date on one system.

If you and your clients are happy with Wordfast, then there is no reason to acquire other CATs. I preferrred the glossary function on Trados, and am still happy with Studio.

I think it is worth every cent I pay for it, but I agree, it can soon become expensive if you buy multiple licenses.

My advice is to go firmly for the CAT that suits you, and make use of all the features that are an advantage to the way you work. You then become so familiar with it that you do not need to think about the mechanics of moving to the next segment, saving, tags, etc. etc.

It is always a distraction if you use a shortcut and the CAT does something unexpected - and the quality of your translation may suffer. Mine does if I try using different CATs, until I am fairly used to them.

Most can work with the majority of file formats and export targets as clients want them. In your position I would stay with Wordfast, unless you had good reason to believe another CAT would be better - considering the way you work and what your clients want. Keep an open mind, but IMHO one good CAT should be enough!


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:42
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Client requirements Oct 6

I also only use WF and would not use anything else. The trouble is, there are clients who require the use of specific SW. Therefore, the real question is: do you need the extra business this would generate? And would the amount of that business be such as to make the investment worthwhile? Do you have any clients especially close to your heart who require such SW often?
And it's not only the investment - each CAT is a bit different, you must learn it. Is the expected result worth the bother?


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ttp_doza  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:42
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Is there a need for multiple CAT tools? Oct 6

Hi, some valuable points have already been explained. I think the key questions are "What are you aiming at?" and "What do your customers expect?" If your are only working with direct customers, they'll probably just expect you to deliver the translation in the source format, and usually it is a Word, PPT or Excel file. In that case you shouldn't really change to another tool, as you might not be able to re-use your TMs, termbases and the like with a new tool. Most of them promise a certain degree of compatibility, but from my 30+ years of experience, they are not always compatible.

On the other hand, when it comes to more complex format from Pagemaker, Framemaker, or similar applications, you might get stuck with your CAT tool as it may not be able to convert such complex formats. If your customers are willing, they'd convert to some format that you can handle, but not all are able or willing.

And, last but not least, should you plan to work for translation agencies as a steady source of income, you may be asked to use one or the other tool. Some of them like Across are free for freelancers, others are not. In some cases the agency may provide you with a licence for their own proprietary tool, and if you accept to use it, you will have an advantage over other translators.

So, my advice is: As long as there is no necessity to change to another tool or buy one in addition, stay with the one you know and feel comfortable with. It always takes time (and sometimes causes a lot of stress) to swap horses in the middle of the race.


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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 10:42
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
... Oct 6

The only reason I see for multiple CATs is if your clients require you to do server-based work.
AFAIK, it's not possible to log into a memoQ server with Wordfast, for example.
Other than that, they're all more or less compatible.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:42
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
If it's working for you, don't change anything Oct 6

DJHartmann wrote:
I'm coming to the end of my 3 year Wordfast license and am wondering, after my very positive experience with it, whether it's even worth considering other CATs?

No, it isn't. Let it be, unless you have a client who insists that you use a specific and different CAT tool.

I use Trados and it works for me, despite certain dissatisfactions. Every hour I spend researching and testing other CAT tools is an hour I could be using to make more money. I already use Transit NXT and, although it works for the projects I need it for, I wish I could do everything in Studio 2017 instead. Having to remember two interfaces and two sets of keyboard shortcuts just makes me less efficient.

Incidentally, I don't find CAT tools at all expensive. I spend a couple of hundred euros a year on upgrades to Studio 2017 and I can earn that in a few hours of work, and a CAT tool makes my life far easier. From what you say, your CAT tool makes your life easier as well. Not a difficult decision.

Regards,
Dan


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DJHartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you to everyone Oct 6

I think the choice is clear.

Thanks to everyone for sharing this wisdom!


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:42
Member (2014)
English to German
Trados Oct 6

I just use Trados and when I started out I used Memsource. I wouldn't buy another tool, but would like to be more flexible.

Recently, I was asked a few times to complete projects in other tools, and agencies offered access to the them, e.g. MemoQ. I guess it wouldn't be too complex to get used to it, but the deadlines were too short for me to consider playing with a new tool as well.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:42
English to Spanish
+ ...
No tool lasts forever Oct 7

Whenever I'm using a software tool for creating a document or translating it, I'm reminded that tools have a short lifecycle. I started using WordPerfect 5.1 in the early 1990s and now I'm using Word 2016. The metaphors are the same: white screen like a sheet of paper, a menu bar or ribbon atop the screen, and action icons that are familiar to me after years of use.

But we tend to confuse the tool with the process. In a Spongebob Squarepants episode, he has to write a book essay. After writing the title, he gets writer's block and pleads with his pencil: Come on, pencil! Make up words!
One of my concerns is that, no matter what CAT tool or other software aid we use, we forget why we use them and end up modeling our process of translation and our thinking around the tool—good news for software developers but bad news for our brain in the end.

Anthony Pym has written about the effects of technology on the translation process: http://trans-int.org/index.php/transint/article/viewFile/121/81..

The reason I find knowing how to use different TEnT and CAT tools is that I have learned the following:

a) Compatibility issues and solutions between TM file formats
b) Portability issues and solutions (what if client has obsolete CAT translation memory?)
c) Offering solutions to client when you have a better tool for the job

And a few more things, of course. I recently convinced an always-Trados customer (one of my best clients) to let me use my tool of preference (in this case, Déjà Vu X3) to work on a medium-sized rush project. The client had her doubts but relented when I told her I could provide her with 1) a TMX file (translation memory exchange file) and 2) a Trados-like analysis sheet for invoicing purposes. I have used memoQ and DVX3 and they operate similarly and, in my opinion, they let me write faster than if I were using Trados, even though all three accept the same native file format.

So, my advice to DJHartmann is to keep using WordFast (he's already used to it) but don't get too enamored with the software, because there will be market conditions that will recommend a tool change down the road.


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 10:42
English to German
Time is money Oct 9

Mario Chavez wrote:

What one person considers expensive may be a bargain to someone else. That applies to anything used as a tool. Would I be happy with a $2.00 toothbrush or a $6 toothbrush?

Things may look different if one of these brushes saves one **paid** minute per day.

A simple calculation: a tool that costs 55.0 € per 5 years costs less than 1.00 € per working month.

If that tool saves you, say, 1 hour per month, you have to compare 1.00 € to your hourly fee. The huge difference is obvious.

(1 hour per month is less than one might think, it is less than 3 minutes per day.)


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two Oct 9

My main CAT tool is DVX3. However, I see that I would be missing some quite interesting jobs if I didn´t have a Trados licence too.

In other words, I keep Trados just for some jobs (where it is required) and use DVX3 for all other projects.

More than 2 would be unproductive. You would find yourself converting TMs and that's a lot of time you need to spend.

That said, I was at some point tempted to acquire memoQ, but decided to hold it for now.


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