Open Office versus Microsoft Office
Thread poster: Laura Cannon

Laura Cannon  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:49
French to English
+ ...
Aug 25, 2010

I have recently started up as a freelance translator (French & German to English). My laptop has Open Office installed on it and I'm wondering whether I also need Microsoft Office. I was wondering if anyone has a view on whether it is possible to work as a freelance translator using Open Office (I'm on version 3.1.0)? Many thanks.

[Edited at 2010-08-25 15:39 GMT]


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:49
Member (2008)
French to English
Open Office Aug 26, 2010

OmegaT and Anaphraseus are both CAT tools that work with Open Office. You can do a lot with Open Office, but you might come up against some problems with formatting of Word documents and some outsourcers that might want a Trados style bilingual document.

Last I checked (which is a while ago) Anaphraseus could produce a bilingual document in Open Office that can, in fact, be opened in Trados, but the delimiters are not the familiar purple colour, which is bound to raise questions with some clients.

If you're working mainly with straight text you can go a long way with Open Office.

However, to be honest, if I was in your shoes I would get Microsoft Office if you want to be serious about translating.


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:49
English to Polish
+ ...
tried and failed Aug 26, 2010

I don't know OO that well because I didn't give it a lot of time. I didn't give it a lot of time because of the compatibility issues.

There were problems in MS Word with OO-generated .doc files: misshaped tables, objects you cannot properly move or format, etc. This was a year ago, the problems may've been resolved by now.

As far as I can remember, OO Calc files also didn't convert well to .xls.

[Edited at 2010-08-26 06:37 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:49
French to German
+ ...
Some thoughts about OO and translating Aug 26, 2010

Hi loz99,
1) First of all, I would update OpenOffice to its latest Windows version (3.2.1) here: http://download.openoffice.org/ as the OO community is really dynamic and improves the software on a nearly daily basis (*).

2) Many CAT tools nowadays (including SDL Trados) have integrated the OO formats as they became more popular, so there is no real need to worry about compatibility issues (maybe only formatting issues as John put it).

3) I always worried and still worry about clients who are apparently unable to draw a line between the professionalism of a translator and the tools said translator uses. From my point of view, the thing that matters is the result. I have been translating press releases with OO + Anaphraseus for more than a year without complaints as per the output.

4) With my preferred TEnT (Heartsome), I have found out that it is by far easier to translate from OO formats than from recent MS Office formats (.DOCX, .XLSX etc) as the latter generate what we refer to as a "tag soup" in both source and target text.

(*) FWIW, the 3.3 Beta version is already available too.


[Edited at 2010-08-26 07:04 GMT]


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:49
Member (2006)
English to Russian
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Depends on your jobs Aug 26, 2010

If your clients send you documents in Microsoft Office formats (especially PowerPoint) with fancy formatting, embedded objects, OOo won’t probably suffice. Although I do most of my work in OOo, nearly 90%, I still need MSO for final editing in many cases. Kinda last mile problem.

It should be noted, however, that compatibility issues between MSO 2003 and 2007 often are as serious, as between MSO and OOo.


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:49
Member
French to English
+ ...
I'm very much in favour of the Open... approach, but Aug 26, 2010

...I'm afraid I can't use OO for all projects in my everyday work.

First of all, I already use Wordfast, and I have been told this is not compatible with OO; having gone through one learning curve to master that, I don't intend investing even more time learning something completely new — especially as what little I've seen of OmegaT seemed to be a lot less intuitive. So I can't use OO for the (admittedly minority of) projects that require CAT.

My very first experience with OO was a very bad one, and has put me off trying again!

I had a Word document with some formatting in it, nothing exceptionally complicated — the actual translation in MS Word took me about 1 hour, but then I had the misfortune to open the document in OO (on someone else' computer, for proofing) — and when I next opened it in Word, the formatting had become seriously corrupted, and it took me another 3 hours to correct it! Thank goodness I had the instinct to re-open it in Word before delivering, otherwise I'd have sent a 'damaged' file back to my customer.

So I can't use OO for translating customer documents suppplied in .doc format where they contain even vaguely complex formatting.

I do use OO for documents I originate myself, or documents with little or no formatting, or translations from hard copy or PDF originals for example, as long as none of these require the use of CAT.

However, I do find it unwieldy having to work between the two applications, and remember which shortcuts go with which, etc. And of course, I always have to check .doc format conversions in MSWord before delivering to customers. I have found only a very tiny minority of customers actually send me OO format documents.

So I would say that unfortunately, however much I would like to free myself from the tyranny of MS Office, for the moment I couldn't dispense with it.

[Edited at 2010-08-26 09:52 GMT]


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esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:49
Member (2006)
English to Russian
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My experience is different Aug 26, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

There were problems in MS Word with OO-generated .doc files: misshaped tables, objects you cannot properly move or format, etc. This was a year ago, the problems may've been resolved by now.


Strange, even a year ago I did not face any serious issue with documents generated in OOo. Problems are likely to arise when you need conversion DOC → ODT → DOC or especially PPT → ODP → PPT. As for xls files, I haven’t had any problem at all for years.


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:49
Member
French to English
+ ...
Word's own compatibility Aug 26, 2010

esperantisto wrote:

...compatibility issues between MSO 2003 and 2007 often are as serious, as between MSO and OOo.


I couldn't agree more! I had a horrendous time recently with a customer's huge .docx document, which when converted to .doc produced all sorts of character issues, from which I couldn't recover, and ended up having to painstakingly manually copy recovery segments from the original document; it was a total nightmare!

Yet when the customer themselves saved the document for me as .doc from their Word 2007, it worked fine under my Word XP. But that wasn't til Monday...


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wsetters
Local time: 21:49
French to English
You need Office Aug 26, 2010

I work in OmegaT, which means using OpenOffice to convert word/ppt/etc. files into OpenDocument formats. It works mostly. MOSTLY.

I have been working on documents which have to fit a set design/template and are fairly complex.

-Every document I have translated in the last few weeks has crashed Word when I try to open the translation after I have converted it to doc. The recovered document works fine, and it gives me a list of the bugs in the file that it has fixed. (incomprehensible).

-Formatting tends to be *mostly* correct. Page numbering/inserted dates/pagination/lists are sometimes not correct, also some symbols

-In Powerpoint, again things are *mostly* okay, but text boxes tend to shift by 20-30 pixels sometimes, which may or may not be a big issue. For me it is. I haven't even tried one with animations...


Basically, unless risking crashing your client's computer when he opens your file and sending back documents with broken formatting is acceptable for you, you need Office. Even if it's just to ensure that the doc file is not broken in some way and to re-save it (definitely do this!).

[Edited at 2010-08-26 08:14 GMT]


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Dragomir Kovacevic  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:49
Italian to Serbian
+ ...
re: Open Office versus Microsoft Office Aug 26, 2010

loz99, you cannot still estimate whether you'd need another text editor. Or you can?

Go on with your work, and you'll realize whether and to what level a more sophisticated product for your work, is necessary.

To say "more sophisticated" in respect to OOo, is a blasphemy, since it is a very good product. Other colleagues explained some pro-s and con-s, adding some ideas about CAT-s working more or less directly or closely with OpenOffice.org.

I wanted to comment what some colleagues wrote; there are many CAT-s that do not intentionally edit MS special formats, starting from doc, docx, and so on. There are some other payable CAT-s that work on internal rtf format, out of a source doc format. There are many CAT-s that produce tag forest as a result of elaborating newest MS formats based on xml.

Therefore, a choice of staying with OpenOffice and other open-source editors might be a choice of bravery, courage, resistance.

In the very end, if you find a perfect preservation of some of MS formats' characteristics indispensable, you might decide to purchase MS Word 2010 only. It costs as 70% of a complete soho edition of MSO 2010.

D

[Edited at 2010-08-26 08:35 GMT]


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tiana1988
China
Local time: 03:49
Microsoft is still very strong! Especially in the office that one! Aug 26, 2010

Microsoft is still very strong! Especially in the office that one!
Translation, then you can try Google Translate, also good use!

[Edited at 2010-08-26 08:45 GMT]


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tiana1988
China
Local time: 03:49
office is still relatively easy to use software! Aug 26, 2010

office is still relatively easy to use software!
At least in China it is widely used and very convenient!
Nanjing City China


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Laura Cannon  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:49
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've decided to buy MS Office! Aug 26, 2010

Thanks to everyone for all the constructive advice. In view of this, and in view of the (extremely irritating!) formatting issues I have encountered today - which I believe are due to Open Office - I have now purchased my copy of MS Office 2010.

However, in the meantime I will upgrade my version of Open Office and keep it going alongside MS Office.

Thanks once again

Laura


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Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:49
English to Polish
+ ...
yes Aug 27, 2010

esperantisto wrote:

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

There were problems in MS Word with OO-generated .doc files: misshaped tables, objects you cannot properly move or format, etc. This was a year ago, the problems may've been resolved by now.


Strange, even a year ago I did not face any serious issue with documents generated in OOo. Problems are likely to arise when you need conversion DOC → ODT → DOC or especially PPT → ODP → PPT. As for xls files, I haven’t had any problem at all for years.


Yeah, I must correct myself - I think that was exactly my case. The files had indeed been originated as .docs, not generated in OO. And correct me if I'm wrong but it'll be the case if the client wants a .doc file translated and you only have OO.

[Edited at 2010-08-27 08:04 GMT]


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:49
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Agree with wsetters Aug 27, 2010

wsetters wrote:

I work in OmegaT, which means using OpenOffice to convert word/ppt/etc. files into OpenDocument formats. It works mostly. MOSTLY.


Same here. OOo has given me a lot of trouble for complex formatting such as tables and text boxes, and for an occasional mathematical formula that just doesn't come out right. For these rare jobs (in my case), I have to have Word on hand for a final touch-up. Disclaimer: I am not the world's greatest user of word processors, having learned the trade as a typesetter, before PCs were invented. Those were the days when fonts were made out of film, and if you wanted 10 point Times Roman, all you had to do was "say so," and it would stay that way until you told it to change. Hitting "enter" did not suddenly change it into 38 point Arial.

The OOo help menus are horrible, usually outdated and thus bearing no relationship to what I'm looking at on the screen. But then, I've never met a help menu that I found user-friendly, comprehensible,a nd correct! M$Word 007 is just as bad, but I bought a book that helps me struggle along with it.

Per esperantisto's comment about files originating in Word vs. in OOo: I don't believe I have ever received a document from a client that originated in OOo. "Everybody" out there seems to use MS Office--except translators, perhaps. In my experience, anyhow.

Susan


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