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How many CAT tools are too many?
Thread poster: Konstantin St

Konstantin St  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:00
English to German
+ ...
Aug 19, 2014

I've been freelancing for almost six months now and have so far accumulated quite a range of free and trial version CAT tools and add-ins that were required by my clients. Recently I received another medium-sized job offer that would have required yet another CAT tool. This was one of the reasons why I turned it down since the thought of having to install another new program that I have to get familiar with wasn't very intriguing. Do you believe it is a good strategy to draw a line when you already have a certain number of tools?

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Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:00
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
I only use one, and it's been enough Aug 19, 2014

I only work with MemoQ, as only working with one CAT tool is good for productivity as you don't have to keep getting into the swing of a new tool, and also because it is able to accept SDL packages made by Trados. I have had the occasional offer for a job using Across or another tool, but I have turned them down. Often if you just state that you work with tools x and y, the client will find a way to make it work.

Out of interest, which CAT tools do your clients ask you to use?


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Konstantin St  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
the following... Aug 19, 2014

Hi Charlotte, thanks for your reply. I have agreed to install Across, TStream Editor, Translation Workspace and Xbench QA Checker (which is quite good, maybe I'll get the full version).

I guess this is enough since I also bought Studio 2014 which comes with Passolo Essential and Multiterm. The only other tool which I would install is SDLX, but it's no longer available


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Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:00
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
That sounds like quite a lot and a waste of your time Aug 19, 2014

If I were you, if a client ever asks you to do a job with a tool you don't own, simply state that you'd be delighted to help with the job but you only work with the tools you own (and specify what they are). You could also say that if they absolutely need the job to be done with that particular tool, you'd have to charge a surcharge to make up for the time it would take to install and get to grips with the new tool. You may find that the client either decides to let you use another tool or agrees to the surcharge. Or you may not get the job, which would be a shame, but at least you don't have to go through the irritation of using a new tool when the ones you have are perfectly fine.

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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:00
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
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You don't need SDLX when you own Studio 2014 Aug 19, 2014

Konstantin St wrote:

I guess this is enough since I also bought Studio 2014 which comes with Passolo Essential and Multiterm. The only other tool which I would install is SDLX, but it's no longer available


I believe you don't need SDLX when you own Studio 2014:
http://www.translationzone.com/openexchange/app/sdlxtranslationmemoryplug-inforsdltradosstudio-480.html

Cheers,
Gerard


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Konstantin St  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not so much about the TMs... Aug 19, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Konstantin St wrote:

I guess this is enough since I also bought Studio 2014 which comes with Passolo Essential and Multiterm. The only other tool which I would install is SDLX, but it's no longer available


I believe you don't need SDLX when you own Studio 2014:
http://www.translationzone.com/openexchange/app/sdlxtranslationmemoryplug-inforsdltradosstudio-480.html

Cheers,
Gerard


Hi Gerard,

it's the convenience of the tool itself that I miss and some clients don't accept Studio usage for SDLX jobs due to format paint issues.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:00
Member (2000)
Russian to English
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How many are too many? Aug 19, 2014

One.

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Mulyadi Subali  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 13:00
English to Indonesian
+ ...
two is one too many Aug 19, 2014

Just stick to one that can handle file formats you usually assigned with.

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:00
Russian to English
+ ...
It depends--one or two. Aug 19, 2014

For me one--for some people who do different type of translation, like technical or medical, perhaps two.

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Gudrun Wolfrath  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:00
English to German
+ ...
Exactly. Aug 19, 2014

Jack Doughty wrote:

One.


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Eric Zink  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:00
Member (2012)
German to English
One?? Aug 19, 2014

I am baffled when translators maintain that they get along fine without a CAT tool -- and not merely because so many agencies/clients expect translators to be able to use them. I can only assume it's because the initial investment (both money and time spent learning the system) is so high, and if they made the first investment, they haven't made the second.

If your first one is Trados, I would strongly suggest you try another for comparison. I think memoQ is much easier to understand and probably better for a beginner. It is easier to share Trados files under some circumstances (such as when many translators are working on the same local network, which is a fairly rare situation).


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 08:00
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You decide Aug 19, 2014

You find that you work more efficiently in the ones you are most familiar with, and when you operate all the features automatically, without having to think about the mechanics of the tool.

If you are constantly reaching for the mouse or trying to remember how to do a terminology search, half your brain is distracted from translating. You tire yourself out and waste your time.

That means in practice only one CAT tool for me. I can send a compatible .tmx if clients want one.

Some people can manage different tools for different types of jobs. But you would never go to your car mechanic and tell him what spanners to use, or ask your dentist to buy a particular brand of drill to treat you.

I once told the agency that uses TStream that I hated their CAT, giving a list of reasons, and my comments were sent to the developers. Another time I told a PM that I would only take on his job if he set it up in Trados, because I could work much faster with Workbench, and I could not meet the deadline with TStream. He sent me the files for Trados immediately! (Apart from several other issues, TStream used to seize up and then convert to a German keyboard when I was working online, and then I had to shut down the entire system and start up again.) I don't work for them any more, but for several years they were one of my regular clients.

If you work comfortably with a mainstream tool, get familiar with it and keep to it. Find out how to send compatible TMs, and tell clients that is what you work with.

Or, as several colleagues have suggested, drop CATs altogether. They are not only supposed to be an advantage for the agency, but for you as well. A translation done without a CAT can always be aligned afterwards to create a TM.

MemoQ was designed by translators for translators and it has proved very healthy competition IMHO for Trados, which has become far more user friendly in recent years.

Freelance translators are independent business partners, and agencies would get nowhere without us. The best clients respect interested feedback and comments, so in the long run you are doing yourself and the profession a favour if you stand your ground and help them to improve.
You have to do a favour or two for good clients in return, but hey, that is what makes the world go round.


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:00
Member
Italian to English
Incredible but true! Aug 21, 2014

Eric Zink wrote:

I am baffled when translators maintain that they get along fine without a CAT tool


My translation work up to now has mainly been in the tourism and humanities sectors, and have not called for the use of a CAT tool... using one would have been next to useless.

So it may come as news to some... but it IS perfectly possible to work without a CAT.

Cats also do annoying things like pushing the mouse off the desk with their paw or sprawling across the keyboard in search of attention. I do have a dog, though. And two fancy mice. And two canaries. But I digress.

[Edited at 2014-08-21 15:57 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree with Jack Aug 21, 2014

I agree with Jack: how many CAT tools are too many? One.

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:00
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I don't agree Aug 21, 2014

Tom in London wrote:
I agree with Jack: how many CAT tools are too many? One.

I don't agree with Jack and Tom unless they are referring to literary translation. For technical translation, a CAT tool is useful because it can help you with terminology (both through its support of glossaries and through the use of "concordance" search in the translation memory in use. It can also sometimes be helpful by presenting you with the next sentence to translate in circumstances where you might otherwise overlook it and not translate it.

Its main use is for situations that are more likely to occur in technical texts than others: showing you a sentence from the TM (translation memory) that is similar to one you have previously translated and which is therefore in the TM. The degree of similarity that will make the CAT tool think that an existing translation is worth offering to you is a parameter that the user can specify, probably in all CAT tools, though the exact algorithm that determines the degree of similarity between two sentences is probably a "trade secret" for all the proprietary CAT tools. It can be seen in OmegaT but probably only as some code written in Java.

As for the real question of how many are too many, I can't say from experience because I don't do (and don't want to do) a lot of translation work; I only use one CAT tool (WordFast Classic). I suppose it depends on how many CAT tools you are willing to learn how to use and how easily you can then switch between them.
My semi-informed guess is that a translator could be happy using two, or perhaps three, so that the answer to "How many are too many?" is three or four.

Oliver


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