US fledgling translator zeroes in on CafeTran but has questions
Thread poster: Elisabeth Purkis

Elisabeth Purkis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:20
Member (Jun 2018)
German to English
+ ...
Jul 19

Hi to all
It was suggested that I start a new thread about CafeTran when I answered the question about CAT tools...to buy or not to buy...
To summarize:
I have bought the starter (cheapest of the cheap $120) version of Trados, and after a few hours with it, was already tearing my hair out (my computer "skills" are mostly from using Word). Since then, I have been in contact with a local translation company (with a friendly face, fortunately) and they are willing to start using me once I get some better computer translation skills, e.g CAT tools such as MemoQ or MemoSource and some design software like InDesign. Which leaves me wondering if I should try CafeTran as it seems to be compatible with several CAT tools. It sounds a bit more user-friendly as described in some of the posts...and I am assuming one can receive translation packages from different CAT tools via CafeTran. it seems as if it would be the answer to some of my challenges right now...but I wondered what others think?
Thanks for thinking about this!

Elisabeth Purkis


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:20
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Long read ahead Jul 20

Hello, Elisabeth,

First, you can definitely cross InDesign off your list. Offering Desktop publishing (DTP) services is out of scope for the majority of professional translators, and would mean quite a departure from using Word. An OCR software such as Abbyy FineReader for handling PDFs, on the other hand? A tool to consider.

You can certainly find agencies and clients which will be happy to send you a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file and get a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file in return. However, agencies often expect you to work with specific CAT tools or handle specific bilingual file formats or translation packages.

So, you are considering taking up a CAT tool and improving your computer translation skills. You’re wondering if CafeTran Espresso is the right tool for you.

Here are some thoughts.

First, SDL Trados: With SDL Trados, you have access to a manual, and various online resources, training courses, trainers, books, videos, blogs, you name it. The 2019 edition will offer a much better experience for new translators, from what I understand.

I suspect some hair tearing may come from the crippled functionality of the Starter version, but this is not the only reason.

A complete beginner cannot expect to just “figure out” any fully fledged CAT tool out there. You need to invest time and find the appropriate resources to train, and, of course, not learn a CAT tool while working on real assignments. Once you know one tool well, you can expect to pick up any other much more easily, because the underlying concepts are the same (with some variations) in most of them.

This also applies to CafeTran Espresso.

By all means, try it and see for yourself. There is no need to buy right away.

The demo version is generous, it is NOT time limited and lets you use the software with only two limitations: up to 1,000 Translation Units in a Translation Memory and 500 Glossary entries. This will allow you to translate complete few page long documents. Of course, you’ll want to complete version for working day in day out on it. If you buy the full version (and there are several licensing options, annual subscription, one-time purchase with 3 years support, or via the ProZ Plus package), you get complete functionality in all respects, there is simply no comparison with the Starter version of Trados.

CafeTran resources. So, where to start?
At the Knowledge Base - Solutions page: https://cafetran.freshdesk.com/support/solutions
After installing CafeTran, head to the Getting Started section, and go on from there. Please note there is no manual per se.

There is also a reference document “Getting comfortable”, which is targeted at beginners: https://github.com/idimitriadis0/TheCafeTranFiles/wiki/6-Getting-comfortable
Other reference documents go through the various interface elements, menu options and preferences, and explain the handling of the various file formats (including files and packages from different CAT tools).

For support, there is a dedicated section here in ProZ, and the official forum: https://cafetran.freshdesk.com/support/discussions plus you can create support tickets.

Support is handled by the one and only developer, and a bunch of other active CafeTran users.

Is CafeTran easier to learn that SDL Trados? Is it more user-friendly? I honestly can’t tell. It depends on the eye of the beholder. What I can tell is that many think it is definitely more fun to use. It is geared to freelance translators, and crafted from the ground up by a developer who is also a translator, which shows in many ways. While the program fits in a 17 MB ZIP file, it is a powerful piece of software, covering many facets. This can also be overwhelming.

One of the challenges when learning a CAT tool is figuring out an efficient workflow.

CafeTran does not dictate one specific workflow, it offers many options on how to use it according to your needs, so it’s up to you to come up with your own workflow. For a beginner, this can be daunting.

At the most basic level, however, you can just use one TM for storing both segments and fragments (terms and subsegments), and that’s it. But you will definitely want to go beyond the basic level of any software on which you rely to make a living.

Regarding compatibility with other software, there is one limitation you need to be aware of, no matter what tool you will use. if, say, you want to translate a bilingual SDLXLIFF file or an SDLPPX package, understand you cannot export the final document, unless you are in SDL Trados. This means that if an agency sends you a SDLXLIFF file created for a Word source document, you cannot export the translated target Word document outside of SDL Trados. You can, however, send back the translated SDLXLIFF file or package.

Translating files from external tools may add an additional layer of complexity to the whole process, but, at any rate, yes, CafeTran can help you handle many files created in different CAT tools. Here’s a list of file formats you can handle directly in CafeTran: https://github.com/idimitriadis0/TheCafeTranFiles/wiki/4-File-formats#file-formats-overview

---

If you try CafeTran Espresso and wish to explore still more options, I suggest you also consider two more tools: Memsource (online and offline editors available, paid monthly subscription, quite simple interface, good documentation) and MateCat (matecat.com, a free online tool that is easy to learn and efficient to use, registration recommended).

If you do try out Matecat, please note the following warning: By default, MateCat stores your translated segments in the public MyMemory TM. To make sure this does not happen unwillingly, create a private TM resource: In the Project creation page, click on Settings (Alternatively, in the TM and glossary field, expand the drop-down menu and select Create resource). Click on + New resource button in the opened dialog. Give the TM an optional name. Hit Confirm. You will see that “MyMemory: Collaborative translation memory” resource is Enabled for Lookup, but not set to be Updated anymore. That way, translated segments will only be stored in your private resources.

Jean

[Edited at 2018-07-20 01:58 GMT]


Elif Baykara Narbay
 

Hans Lenting  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Member (2006)
German to Dutch
Thanks for the long read Jul 20

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

Is CafeTran easier to learn that SDL Trados? Is it more user-friendly? ...

At the most basic level, however, you can just use one TM for storing both segments and fragments (terms and subsegments), and that’s it. But you will definitely want to go beyond the basic level of any software on which you rely to make a living.


I actually think that at the very basic level (dragging a source document onto CafeTran Espresso 2018's Dashboard and start translating right away), CafeTran is easier than Studio.


Regarding compatibility with other software, there is one limitation you need to be aware of, no matter what tool you will use. if, say, you want to translate a bilingual SDLXLIFF file or an SDLPPX package, understand you cannot export the final document, unless you are in SDL Trados. This means that if an agency sends you a SDLXLIFF file created for a Word source document, you cannot export the translated target Word document outside of SDL Trados. You can, however, send back the translated SDLXLIFF file or package.


Ultimately, the creation of the target file(s) is the ultimate test whether you have placed all tags correctly. For heavily or badly formatted documents this can be very relevant.

This sounds intimidating, but the good news is that when you run the 2 Tag verifications that CafeTran Espresso 2018 offers, it is very unlikely that your client will be unable to export her Studio project. I don't say this lightly.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:20
French to English
General remarks Jul 20

Different agencies work with different tools. You need to find one that you can work with then take the time to become proficient. As already pointed out, this cannot be done with real jobs with real deadlines. Once up to speed, you will be able to use the tool professionally and hone your skills over time.

One thing to be aware of. If agency A requires you to kit yourself out with a number of tools, bear in mind that there is no guarantee that this agency, or any other for that matter, will then send you work. You'd be pretty bummed at having spent all that time and money if nothing further comes of it. On balance, it is probably best to try out a couple of tools that a number of agencies use and find one you are most at ease with, then contact agencies who can have no compatibility problems with the tool you prefer.

And yes, I agree that using InDesign is an altogether different skill to translation. If you have that skill, so much the better. If you don't, it'll take years to acquire it. Furthermore, note that I have worked with clients using InDesign and they always require text in a format from the MS Offce pack.


 

Elisabeth Purkis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:20
Member (Jun 2018)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the great helpful feedback plus one follow up question from fledgling translator Jul 20

Hi Nikki, Hans and Jean,
Wow, I can't thank you enough for your help with this. It will take me a bit to digest, so I may get in touch via PM if I have any specific follow up questions if that's okay.
Interesting about InDesign. It sounds like I should use my time getting to know the CAT tools first. Actually, MateCat is the only tool that I have used so far. (Except for my run in with Trados...) MateCat seems to be a sort of cross between a CAT tool and Machine Translation, but then again I'm new at this. The hint about the private TM for that is very welcome.
I do have more time now, and would definitely not try to use the CAT tools on real projects.
One more thing, if I may: I am also still very unclear about translation memories per se. I would love to hear a description from any of you who would be kind enough to put them in a nutshell. So far, my projects have been on Word files, or from Matecat into Word files, so I'm obviously at the early end of this learning curve.
I appreciate your thoughts and the care you put in responding to my concerns. You've obviously all been there!
Cheers,
Elisabeth


 


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