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Poll: How often do you work with problematic file formats (PDF, .ppt, images)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

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Dec 19, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How often do you work with problematic file formats (PDF, .ppt, images)?".

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Define problematic Dec 19, 2014

I don't find PDF files at all problematic.

PPT, Excel, charts, images can be fiddly but they're not really problematic and we bill them by the hour so it makes no difference to us.

But I would always work in Word by choice.


 

C. Mouton  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Member (2007)
English to French
they are not problematic anymore Dec 19, 2014

With Trados Studio, you can easily translate a PDF or ppt file, and create a target document with the correct layout. All images, colors, etc. are preserved, and the "after translation" work is minimal

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Dec 19, 2014

PPT files shouldn't be a problem and I usually only get them a few times a year.
As a rule, I prefer clients NOT to send me PDFs because I've had problems with them in the past, although nowadays there are various SW suites available that can convert most PDFs, except the most badly scanned or ornery specimens.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 20:00
Turkish to English
+ ...
The bulk of my work Dec 19, 2014

As a legal translator working mainly with litigation documents, most of the documents my clients need translating are in hard form and they send them to me as scans, usually in pdf format. This is my bread and butter work and I do not find it in any way problematic. Keep sending them, please.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Studio Dec 19, 2014

C. Mouton wrote:

With Trados Studio, you can easily translate a PDF or ppt file, and create a target document with the correct layout. All images, colors, etc. are preserved, and the "after translation" work is minimal


That would be brilliant.

It makes me wonder how my copy of Studio got through quality control. Mine manages to create and miss out text for translation, mess up formatting, stop you from correcting its mistakes and generally make life difficult by not having WYSIWYG functionality. It's like going back 20 years to WordPerfect 5.1. Except that actually worked.


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Most of the time, but... Dec 19, 2014

Chris S wrote:

I don't find PDF files at all problematic.



Neither do I, I seldom use CAT tools. And I was used to work from paper documents for many years.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 02:00
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Very rarely Dec 19, 2014

Because I don't work with:

PPT files - if there is heavy use of fancy formatting (colored, italicized, bold text, etc.). This results in lots of tags in ridiculous places in converted files in the Japanese system.
PDF or Pretty Dead Format files - since I use Studio for all of the technical stuff I translate.

I shiver at the thought of getting a large manual in dead PDF format.

However, in my more reckless youth when Trados hadn't even been thought about and PCs were not the norm, I once translated a 250-page manual handwritten by five engineers - a horror story to tell my grandchildren around a campfire late at night. icon_eek.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't consider them problematic Dec 19, 2014

I work all the time with PDFs, JPGs, as well as video and subtitles files of all kinds, with the weirdest codecs around.

The files I consider really problematic are PPTs, because there is NO minimally adequate software to handle them. I still have the defunct Astound Presentation, which can import PPT files and make them easily editable as they should, with the chance of adding a truckload of enhancements, however it can only deliver a sealed executable. Great presentations, however the client will never be able to edit them, so what's the point?

The other possible problem is poorly scanned PDFs. One day, a lawyer's secretary is very happy. She rejoices to a colleague, This scanner is working sooo fast today!. When she delivers me the "fine print" scanned at 72 or 96 dpi, that's not problematic any more; it's truly mission: impossible. What was translatable text became what a Bulgarian lady I knew would call kukunikas.

Apart from these two cases, it's all in a day's work!


 

Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:00
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
PDF's aren't really a problem Dec 19, 2014

I work in patents. Most patents come as pdf's. I either work them into Word docs, or some agencies provide TXML files, and I still use the pdf for context. Granted, these have low levels of formatting, but I really don't understand the constant kvetching about how hard it is to work with pdf's.

 

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 12:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
PDFs are problematic! Dec 19, 2014

C. Mouton wrote:

With Trados Studio, you can easily translate a PDF or ppt file, and create a target document with the correct layout. All images, colors, etc. are preserved, and the "after translation" work is minimal


I have to disagree. I always deliver a perfectly formatted file, therefore PDF files, even if they can be converted, almost always need extensive work. Problems with these files include line breaks where there should not be any, new sections created from nothing, changes in the font, misread characters, different margins, etc. which I usually fix in a new Word file BEFORE beginning the translation. I have spent a whole day formatting a large document that was originally a PDF before even translating a single line. If I leave the formatting to after I do the transaltion it is sometimes even more problematic, or perhaps it is just the feeling, because you think you have almost finished and then it turns out that the resulting document is all crooked!

Sometimes it is not even worth using a CAT tool with a PDF, and you have to translate it, as we say in Mexico, "a la antigüita".

I would appreciate it if somebody told me how to avoid these problems. I have not been able to find a solution.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Solution for "live" PDFs Dec 19, 2014

Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington wrote:

Sometimes it is not even worth using a CAT tool with a PDF, and you have to translate it, as we say in Mexico, "a la antigüita".

I would appreciate it if somebody told me how to avoid these problems. I have not been able to find a solution.


I have found a solution for translating software-generated (not scanned) PDF files, named Infix. A detailed description of one such process may be found at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/translating-a-pdf.html

Please apologize for the messy condition of my web site. A software upgrade ruined it, and I am taking the chance for a major review while fixing it, however clients are not leaving me much time for it.


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:00
English to Spanish
+ ...
PDF and PPT can be problematic indeed Dec 19, 2014

Mr. Lamensdorf makes a few good points regarding those PDF scanned at a poorly legible resolution. Having a basic knowledge of imaging technologies and techniques helps in those cases. Example: not every scan PDF file needs to be 3 MB long. If you have Adobe Acrobat, get familiar with its basic features, especially downsampling images and tweaking settings to make the PDF file small while still legible for text.

PPT files, well, PowerPoint is not the sharpest knife in the software drawer. You have to hunt for the editing features that will allow you to do some basic text editing, which is exasperating. I now charge a DTP fee to my clients when I have to manipulate PPT files. Same for PDF files that have to be transcribed before being translated.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A couple of points Dec 19, 2014

Mario Chavez wrote:

Mr. Lamensdorf makes a few good points regarding those PDF scanned at a poorly legible resolution. Having a basic knowledge of imaging technologies and techniques helps in those cases. Example: not every scan PDF file needs to be 3 MB long. If you have Adobe Acrobat, get familiar with its basic features, especially downsampling images and tweaking settings to make the PDF file small while still legible for text.


I had an old SCSI scanner, last driver for it being compatible with Win 98. It was a speed demon, even in hi-res. To give an idea, its carriage ran on metal wheels, one end having a solid rubber "tire", the other running on a steel rail.

Nowadays scanning takes a whale of time, and OCR software requires at least 200 dpi. All these multifunctional devices have a slow scanner, where the carriage runs on a single plastic gear rack.

Large files? These guys - http://smallpdf.com/compress-pdf - work miracles in making PDF files smaller on line, and for free. They promise that your file will remain on their server for only one hour, if anyone manages to hack it. They are advertising-funded; you see ads while they do the job.

Mario Chavez wrote:
PPT files, well, PowerPoint is not the sharpest knife in the software drawer. You have to hunt for the editing features that will allow you to do some basic text editing, which is exasperating. I now charge a DTP fee to my clients when I have to manipulate PPT files. Same for PDF files that have to be transcribed before being translated.


A major problem with PPTs is that some inept presentation developers (yes, I mean some of our clients) make it look good on the screen. However it's just a cover-up, like a movie scenario. When you translate it, the entire thing looks cockeyed, and you have to rebuild it. Otherwise they'll say that you botched up a perfectly-looking presentation.


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Problematic PDF Dec 20, 2014

Of course when the asker mentions a problematic PDf he/she is not talking about a text PDF, yet about a document scanned as an image.

When you translate contracts and approved procedures very often (my case), the client wants to make sure the document being translated is the signed version, so they scan the signed and stamped document in image format. That's where the trouble begins. We have to use OCR to convert it, and it invariably generate texts full of errors (like "m" instead of "rn" or "& instead of "8"). This makes the use of CATs or even find and replace a lot less effective.

But well, it's part of our job.


 
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