CAT tool for work with agencies
Thread poster: Alyssa Yorgan

Alyssa Yorgan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
Russian to English
Jan 28, 2016

Hello,

I'm new to freelance work and want to know if people have had to buy specific CAT tools in order to work with agencies. I more-or-less have a grasp on how CATs work from my previous in-house job (we used Swordfish), but I don't know if I should take the plunge and actually buy one of the expensive tools now, or wait until an agency requests that I buy a specific one. I have an ABBYY SmartCAT account, but I realize that I might run into NDA issues with certain clients.

I'm interested in Fluency for its language-specific glossary function, and CafeTran seems like a great affordable tool that is constantly being developed. Is there a lot of pressure to purchase Trados though? Will I lose work if I don't list Trados, MemoQ, etc. on my profile?

I have a Mac, and would need for any tool to be compatible with OS (or at least for service to extend to users running the tool on Windows emulators.)

Your advice is much appreciated!

Alyssa


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 09:35
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
I still translate without SDL Studio Jan 28, 2016

Years ago, before Studio days, there was Trados. All were saying it is a must but I was translating anything with Deja Vu X. Now, some people still think all works require a Studio, no! I still translate with Deja Vu X.

You mentioned CafeTran and yes it is a great tool as well.


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 13:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
cafetran4mac Jan 28, 2016

Alyssa Yorgan wrote:
Will I lose work if I don't list Trados, MemoQ, etc. on my profile?


Quite possible. Or rather, you won't lose it, because you won't get it in the first place. That's a good thing, actually. Agencies who demand those tools more likely than not don't understand CAT tools, don't care about quality, and pay low rates. The "good" agencies couldn't care less about what tool you use.

I've been using CafeTran on a Mac for almost six years now, and it can do anything I want, and more. Including editing the project files of all other major CAT tools. I wouldn't bother about glossaries either. There are heaps of free glossaries available on the Internet which you can incorporate in the Mac's Dictionary.app or in CafeTran. For Russian, see here, for example.



Cheers,

Hans


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Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:35
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
CAT tools will help Jan 29, 2016

Working with CAT tools will make most of your work a lot faster and easier, even if your clients don't specify any required tool. Some, however, may ask you if you can do jobs on their CAT tool servers, and so getting a specific CAT tool can help you to attract certain clients.

Taking myself as an example, I do work for four or five different clients on a memoQ server, work on the Across server for one client, and another two who frequently send Trados Studio packages or ttx files. Across isn't most translators' favourite tool, but it is free and relatively quick to learn to use if you're familiar with CAT tools, so that could be a good option for you. I have a paid version of memoQ because I like to use it for most of my projects, but a lot of clients will be able to offer you a temporary license if you accept a memoQ project from them (but you'd have to clarify that with them in advance). I used to work with Studio when I worked in-house, but since memoQ can import and work with both Trados packages and ttx files, it's not necessary to have both. I do know colleagues who work primarily with Trados for their own work and then temporary licenses for memoQ server projects, so you generally can pick one or the other and shouldn't be disadvantaged by not having both. I personally work on a Windows laptop but know colleagues who work with Windows emulators on Mac without any problems.

Those are the only tools I have experience with so I can't comment on any others, unfortunately, but hope the above is helpful. I do really like and recommend memoQ, however, and it does have good glossary and termbase functions. Kilgray (the company that makes memoQ) offers a free 45-day trial of memoQ so you could always try it and see what you think, then you can tell potential clients that you work with it and can buy the full version if it does end up getting you more work. Across is free though so that could also be a good option.

Good luck!


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Alyssa Yorgan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
OK, no Trados then! Jan 29, 2016

Thank you for your detailed responses, Charlotte, Meta, and Selcuk. I'm glad to hear that nobody has felt pressured into buying a tool for working with a particular client. I think I'm going to go ahead with either CafeTran or MemoQ then

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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 13:35
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Well... Jan 29, 2016

Alyssa Yorgan wrote:
I think I'm going to go ahead with either CafeTran or MemoQ then


... CafeTran is a lot cheaper to purchase, and you don't need to buy and install Windows and a virtual machine,* plus you have all your hardware resources (think RAM and HDD/SSD) at your disposal as opposed to OS X and Windows sharing it.

*Okay, you don't need a VM if you use Bootcamp, and rebooting isn't very time-consuming nowadays. If I would use another OS (I don't!), I'd go for Bootcamp, but strangely enough, almost everybody goes for a VM. And then they use Parallels or VMWare as their VM, whereas VirtualBox is free. And pretty good. When will I start to understand humans? I'll stick to computers, I think.

Cheers,

Hans


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 09:35
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
initial price plus yearly costs Jan 30, 2016

Hi Alyssa,

There is no best CAT tool for all, testing some of them (but not all at the same time) will help you. Nowadays all CATs come with amazing features although their prices are not the same.

Initial price
yearly upgrade costs
free support

are some points to consider.

Many colleagues may disagree but I consider memoQ as the new Trados in terms marketing.


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CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 07:35
PROMT can be interesting for you Jan 30, 2016

PROMT can be interesting for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROMT

You can integrate the Mac version of PROMT into CafeTran as a service:

http://www.promt.com/translation_software/mac/

Note that PROMT provides offline Machine Translation, which could solve your NDA issues. They also offer dictionaries. I actually think that you are quite spoiled by them, with your language combination .

Good luck with establishing your business!

[Edited at 2016-01-30 07:38 GMT]


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
CAT tools Jan 30, 2016

The tool of my choice is DVX3. It suits my needs perfectly well and has attractive cost of ownership. It's quite stable too. I do most of my work in DVX3.

Before taking on DVX3, I worked with SDL Studio 2014. Great tool. It has much more capabilities and functionalities than I would ever need (I work with legal and corporate documents, mostly in "standard" formats). It has one downside. The program is "a..l" with tags. If you miss one, or if you are working with a converted document, or if just anything happens in the system, it simply wont let you export the target file. You can spend hours and hours trying to solve it and will probably miss the deadline before you do solve it, if ever. In DVX tags are simple numbers. If you mess it up, what will happen is that your target file will contain some text in the source language. If you cannot sort it out in the tool itself, you can simply copy those segments and paste them directly into the target file. DVX never "arrests" your target file, and this is very important to me.

Cost of ownership of SDL Studio triples that of DVX. I still have a licence and only use it when working with Studio packages (technically, those are just zip files and you can deal with them with any other major CAT tool, so no need to have Studio installed, really).

Then, you will enter the fabulous world of enthusiastic agencies who have developed their own CAT tools. Those are almost always free (if not, walk away and do not look back). After a couple of projects, you'll feel very comfortable with them.

I used memoQ as a trial version and liked it a lot. Definitely worthwhile to work with it, but it too has quite high cost of ownership (below Studio but way above DVX).

If you have DVX, you're covered for just any kind of job, and you do not have to invest thousands and thousands of dollars/euros/pounds in it.

Now, if you are going to work with some EU tenders and this sort of large projects, they simply and blatantly state that Studio is the requirement (you will have to prove you have a licence).

If I were starting out, I would invest in DVX and in the middle run, would get Studio on board (without support, it's too expensive and of very little practical use).

And I'm sorry, I simply do not know CafeTran, and therefore have no informed opinion.

[Edited at 2016-01-30 12:46 GMT]


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Marcus König  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:35
Member (2009)
Portuguese to German
+ ...
Exactly! Jan 30, 2016

Meta Arkadia wrote:

Agencies who demand those tools more likely than not don't understand CAT tools, don't care about quality, and pay low rates. The "good" agencies couldn't care less about what tool you use.



Quite so. I couln't agree more.

Marcus
happy memoQ user


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:35
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
This. Jan 31, 2016

Charlotte Farrell wrote:

Working with CAT tools will make most of your work a lot faster and easier, even if your clients don't specify any required tool. Some, however, may ask you if you can do jobs on their CAT tool servers, and so getting a specific CAT tool can help you to attract certain clients.


The OP's question was specifically about work with agencies, and I believe most agencies use one or more CAT-specific servers, therefore in order to work with them you actually need the "client version" of that specific CAT tool, simple as that.

Imagine a "big" localization project, or a long term project for a specific end-customer involving multiple translators and reviewers. That simply can't be handled by importing and translating source files in any CAT tool and then exporting and sending back a clean file, but needs real-time collaboration and online and shared resources managed through a specific tool.

Personally, I like MemoQ better than Studio (more intuitive, no separation between TM and TB management, etc.), but it does cost quite a bit, since they basically churn out a couple of (so called) "major versions" every year and you need to buy a (so called) "upgrade and maintenance package" each and every year (i.e. you can't skip a year or two...) to keep your version up to date, thing which in turn is necessary to keep working with agencies...

So, basically, that's a dissimulated subscription model, which implies a running cost. Something to keep in mind when deciding. In my opinion it's worth it, although I can't say I like the underlying model...


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CafeTran Training
Netherlands
Local time: 07:35
That depends on the flexibility of your client Feb 1, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

The OP's question was specifically about work with agencies, and I believe most agencies use one or more CAT-specific servers, therefore in order to work with them you actually need the "client version" of that specific CAT tool, simple as that.


It's my experience that this all depends on the flexibility of your client. When they really want your assistance for a project, they usually are willing to go the extra mile and send you the XLIFF files of server-based projects via something as simple and robust as ... mail.

In my personal opinion, this flexibility is another symptom of the quality of a client. The ability to think outside the box and let the translator focus on the quality of his work and not force him to learn a less-liked tool. After all, freelance translators choose their preferred tools carefully.

One likes to work in MS Word, another only in grid-based CAT tools. One loathes auto-assembling, another one bases his entire workflow on this feature. Each and every freelance translator should be allowed to use the CAT tool that she prefers. Project managers should assist the freelancer, for the sake of the quality of the output.


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:35
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Similar earlier discussions Feb 1, 2016

Unsurprisingly, there have been earlier discussions on similar topics. Here are links to some of them (I've added the starting month in parentheses):

What are the best free CAT tools for beginners? (Nov 2015)
http://www.proz.com/topic/295169

What are the most popular CAT tools used or required by translation agencies? (Nov 2015)
http://www.proz.com/topic/295031

What is the best CAT software? (Oct 2014)
http://www.proz.com/topic/276424

Using a translation agency's own CAT tool (Jun 2014)
http://www.proz.com/topic/270320

Agencies' own CAT tools (Dec 2011)
http://www.proz.com/topic/215048


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:35
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
In an ideal world... Feb 2, 2016

CafeTran Training wrote:

It's my experience that this all depends on the flexibility of your client. When they really want your assistance for a project, they usually are willing to go the extra mile and send you the XLIFF files of server-based projects via something as simple and robust as ... mail.


Alyssa wrote she's just starting as a freelancer, so I replied based on the hypothesis she doesn't have a vast customer base and that she can't afford to be overly "choosy" off the bat. What you wrote may apply to situations where your knowledge/experience of a specific topic/customer sets you apart and makes you "unique" and/or not easily replaceable (by repeat customers who already know you and how you work...), but I fear that is not the norm for everyone, every topic/field and every project, especially if you're just moving your first steps into the industry and you are specifically aiming at agencies (as opposed to end customers), as Alyssa mentioned.

Besides, there are situations where the approach you suggest would be rather inconvenient to say the least (in addition to the import/export/reimport procedures, I mean). In the cases I mentioned in my previous comment, for instance, those projects might (and usually do) come with huge (as in several hundred MBs) translation memories, so having to manually manage that by continuously importing/exporting and downloading/uploading updated TMs rather than having one or more online and automatically updated TMs (and glossaries) seems rather bothersome and time consuming, even if the agency were willing to do that.

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your "let the translator focus on the quality of his work and not force him to learn a less-liked tool" (I'd like that too!), but I am not convinced "CAT tool-agnostic" agencies represent the norm, or that such an approach would be feasible (or even desirable) for any type of project, as I was saying above.


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Alyssa Yorgan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
Russian to English
TOPIC STARTER
So many pearls of wisdom! Feb 3, 2016

Thank you so much for the links to past forum discussions, Oliver! I clearly was not searching for my topic under the right forum heading.

I've gotten in on the group buy for CafeTran, which I'm excited to use! It seems that most users' experience with it is pretty favorable, so I'm hoping it will be smooth sailing.


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