Newbie buying CAT tools
Thread poster: Michele Hamburg

Michele Hamburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jun 19, 2009

Hi all,
I'm just getting started in this industry. There's a great deal online for the new Trados Suite. Would you recommend buying, or should I wait until I'm more established? How soon is too soon to make such an investment?
Thanks so much!

[Edited at 2009-06-19 15:39 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:26
French to German
+ ...
Just a little detail, Michele... Jun 19, 2009

Your question is about buying a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool, not TMs (translation memories).

Translation memories are generated by CAT tools and can be used by them.

As per buying SDL Trados Studio 2009, I and other colleagues think there are less expensive CAT tools which perform as well... and are easier to install. As a starter in this industry, you'd certainly not need to enter it with permanent headaches about the way you should deal with your CAT tool.

Laurent K.

[Edited at 2009-06-19 15:17 GMT]


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Michele Hamburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
CAT tools Jun 19, 2009

Thanks for your answer, but what about all the job posts requiring the translator to work with Trados? Would they be willing to work with a freelancer who uses another brand of CAT?
Thanks


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John Jory  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:26
Member (2004)
English to German
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Other brands of CAT Jun 19, 2009

One option that I use successfully, and which is accepted by several agencies, is Wordfast. You can either submit an 'uncleaned' Word text (it contains the segmented source text and the corresponding translated segments), or you can export your work in the Trados-compatible *.TMX format.
These functions are also provided by other CAT tools, but I have got used to Wordfast.

HTH JJ

[Edited at 2009-06-19 16:18 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:26
Member
English to French
Return on investment Jun 19, 2009

If your purchase dilemma stems from job offers you see here, then don't worry, it is a minute part of the translation business, and chances to be selected are rather slim given the number of applicants.

I would suggest you go into expensive CAT tools after a loyal customer of yours requests them. Then you are sure it will pay for itself quickly because of the increased workload.

At any rate, before investing the price of a new computer in software, you should at least assess what CAT can do for you, by trying demo versions or freely available tools (masses of info on the forums on these topics). Trados do periodic discounted offers, so you don't have to rush.

CAT tools are originally made to speed up our work and make it more consistent in a more user-friendly setup, not some compulsory gizmo you have to have in your toolkit to be taken seriously. CAT tool or not CAT tool, your translation abilities will remain the same. Only your productivity will increase slightly, which is really interesting when you work near full-time.

I have the previous version of Trados (2007 Suite), and I will not upgrade until business compels me to do so. For half the price, I also bought MemoQ (also when business compelled me to do so), which has become my CAT tool of choice for large or non-Word projects after 10 years of Trados upgrades. Trados is to CAT tools what Office is to desktop suites, which doesn't mean it is the "best" for your purposes.

Have a good weekend,
Philippe


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Michele Hamburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:26
English to Spanish
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 19, 2009

Thank you Philippe for your response and explanation!

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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:26
Member (2005)
English to Polish
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You can tell your client that... Jun 19, 2009

Michele Hamburg wrote:

Thanks for your answer, but what about all the job posts requiring the translator to work with Trados? Would they be willing to work with a freelancer who uses another brand of CAT?
Thanks


You are able to work with TTX files, for example with Swordfish, or Memoq, indeed with Swordfish (as promised by the tool's author) you will also be able to work the newly created SDLXLIFF format, because sooner or later it will get a foothold in the big translation agencies out there...

You don't need to tell them that you don't have the T... stuff, unless they ask specifically if you have it.


Regards,

Piotr


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 08:26
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just a thought... Jun 19, 2009

I have Wordfast, which I occasionally use, but to tell the truth, my clients have not only never requested CAT tools in my areas (social sciences, arts, etc.), but every time I have been offered a job which supposedly "required TRADOS", I have been told, "never mind, we don't really need it."

I think CAT tools are important and useful, but it REALLY depends on your area of expertise (an engineer will get a lot more use out of their CAT than I do).

If you want the tools because you want to add some new skills, go for it. If it's because you're worried about missing out on work, don't be so sure.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:26
English to French
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No rush Jun 19, 2009

Since you are new to CAT tools, you can take your time before making a decision. It's not like you want to take advantage of time-limited upgrade offers.

Having said that, I think you first need to figure out what file formats you would be working on. Your specializations and the kind of client you are targeting should help in determining whether you are fine with a CAT tool that only handles Microsoft files or if you need to also handle other filetypes, like DTP files (QuarkXpress, InDesign, etc.).

If you mostly translate legal documents, then they will most likely be Word or Excel documents. If you localize software, then you will probably need a CAT tool that goes beyond Microsoft file formats.

I think at this stage you should try the free CAT tools which mostly handle only Microsoft documents. This will also give you a feel of CAT so you know better which features you absolutely need and which features you can live without. Then, you can go shopping (unless you are already satisfied with the free solution).

If you only need to work with Word files, you can get a CAT tool that costs $0. Most CAT tools can produce TMX memories, so you could in theory work on Trados projects even if you don't have Trados. You would need to explain to the client that you can produce the target document and the TMX memory with the software you have - if that is all they need, then they will most likely accept whichever CAT tool you work with. Maybe they will also learn in the process that it is better for them to require only TMX compatibility instead of requiring a specific tool - they would be able to work with a larger pool of translators.


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