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Poll: Which files do you find most difficult to work with?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:34
SITE STAFF
Oct 15, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which files do you find most difficult to work with?".

This poll was originally submitted by Cristina Usón Calvo. View the poll results »



 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:34
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Powerpoint Oct 15, 2015

PPT files can contain lots of redundant, meaningless tags from Japanese source text which make your life hell and doubles the workload, as I found out yet again yesterday.

Incidentally, with PDFs - the exportable text type or scanned type (Pretty Dead Format)? This makes a huge difference. I will not handle the latter.


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:34
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
PDF Oct 15, 2015

Even converted PDFs drive me crazy. I have a few clients who will convert them and then clean up the text before passing it on for me to translate.

PPT can be very time-consuming, trying to fit everything in the original boxes, but I've managed to work up a little speed on them. I can understand that for Julian it might be harder working with Japanese.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
PDF and other Oct 15, 2015

A complicated low quality PDF with no text layer can easily make even a decent DTP cry...

On the other hand, a 'standard' DOC pested with encapsulated mixed data and external links may seem even funnier--ever, let alone some sub/non-standard sources)


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Oct 15, 2015

Althoug working with PDF's can be quite challenging, and PPT has its little "traps" as well, I find it most difficult to work with scanned images that include both grafics and text.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:34
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Oct 15, 2015

I prefer by far working on Word documents and I deeply dislike working on PowerPoint slides and scanned PDFs as they are extremely time-consuming.

I must say though that when I worked as sworn translator the files I found most difficult to work with were… handwritten documents!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
PDF Oct 15, 2015

Most of the others will open in Studio, and I can work with them.

The Danish health authorities seem very reluctant to release readable medical records to anyone, even though all documentation is digital internally. Time and time again, I get a text that would be ideal for translation with a CAT - full of repetitions and standard phrases and terminology to keep track of... except for the Perfectly Dead Format. Either it is barely legible to humans and quite impossible to OCR, or it comes out as a totally illegible tag soup in Studio. I cannot understand it - in the 21st century!

I have just given the lowest possible quote to a private individual for a translation of some medical records, but with the Danish 25% VAT on top. He can't afford it, and I quite understand. But there was still a week's work in it for me, struggling with a magnifying glass and 200% resolution...

On other occasions Studio opens PDFs quite well, but I am not sure the DTP folk are always happy with the target files it produces in Word.

One agency uses PDF for proofreading, which means it has to be done twice, once in the Studio file and once with 'yellow notes' in the PDF - I can't use track changes, which is the simplest and most sensible way to do it.

In short, PDF is a pain IMHO...

Edited to add that Excel comes a very close second, but I rarely accept Excel files, and if I do, Studio copes with them, or I convert a single column to Word and then paste it back after translation. (That can be a PITA as well...)

[Edited at 2015-10-15 11:50 GMT]


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:34
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Other Oct 15, 2015

I don't mind working from a PDF file in a new Word file which I have created from scratch.
Sometimes problematical are Word files created by someone else (or converted from a file in some other format by someone else) which I'm expected to overtype. Other people's formatting can sometimes be puzzling, to say the least, and occasionally bewildering. Fonts suddenly change, bits suddenly vanish, I suddenly get a message that the file can't be saved or needs "permission". I'm no DTP wizard, just a translator. With files I create myself I never have such problems.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:34
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Excel AND PowerPoint (even score) Oct 15, 2015

Excel often behaves erratically, some inadvertently enabled 'security' features may thwart translation attempts.

If calculations are involved, in an outburst of stupidity, Microsoft decided to translate the commands! So if the original spreadsheet was created using Excel in English, it's "SUM". If that spreadsheet is opened with Excel in Portuguese, it should be "SOMA" there, hence it will NOT calculate!

Excel has gone a long way since its original paradigm, Apple II's Visicalc, and its PC equivalent, Lotus 123. These were devised to handle non-interactive text as labels only.


PowerPoint is badly structured from the start, having limited resources. From the user's POV, Microsoft put as much effort in it as they did for MS Publisher. Quite often a klutz-crafted PPT looks good on screen, but its structure is like beams put together with duct tape. After translation, it gets completely cockeyed, and there are no adequate tools to rebuild that efficiently (like a duct-tape structure).

It remains the standard presentation tool thanks only to effective marketing, and the lack of a worthy opponent. The only worthy opponent that ever came up was Astound Presentation, which was slaughtered and buried by its developers on account of unsolvable bugs. As I was able to ascertain after its demise, all Astound bugs were rooted in Windows 98, as it works flawlessly under Win XP. It even imports PPTs to make them right and enhance them.

My take is that if a company like Adobe had bought Astound before it died and kept developing it, nowadays PowerPoint would be as (un)popular as MS Publisher.


Surprisingly PDFs are no problem for me.

If they are dead/scanned, I can OCR them, and quickly rebuild any publication with PageMaker using the PDF pages in the background as a template (and later deleting it).

Live/'distilled'/SW-generated PDFs can be handled with Infix. I've published a walk-thru of the process using an example on this page.


Some video files may pose a challenge for subtitling. MOVs cause trouble on PCs; WMVs do the same on Macs. FLVs ans SWF may be a pain anywhere. However there are smart and reliable converters that make them all into rock-solid AVIs. After I'm done, if the client wants, the same converters let me work their way back into any desired format.


 

Leticia Klemetz, CT  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:34
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
Studio is a game changer Oct 15, 2015

Trados Studio takes all formats, but many clients don't realize that the layout in a converted PDF can get really bad when translated into a language that expands (Spanish takes more space than English or Swedish, in my case)

 

Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:34
Portuguese to English
+ ...
PowerPoint Oct 15, 2015

My CAT tool (OmegaT) manages them fine, but after translation, making sure the formatting is consistent with the source when source & target languages differ so much in efficiency and word volume is such a PITA (an English translation can often have as much as 10 to 15% difference in word volume from a Spanish or Portuguese source file, sometimes that many fewer words) that I simply refuse to work with .ppt ot .pptx files at all 90% of the time.

PDF files are cake.


 

Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 14:34
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
Excel Oct 15, 2015

A true enemy!!! I am killing one at the moment and I would give happily my remuneration to anyone who could insert the large German words instead of shorter Hungarian ones.
Haaaaaaate it soooo much


 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:34
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Other Oct 15, 2015

Scanned PDFs!

 

Ward Whittaker  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:34
Portuguese to English
This poll was pointless Oct 15, 2015

because it did not differentiate between native PDFs and non-native scanned jpeg PDFs.

[Edited at 2015-10-15 13:14 GMT]


 

Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:34
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
I agree Oct 15, 2015

with Teresa.

Teresa Borges wrote:

I prefer by far working on Word documents and I deeply dislike working on PowerPoint slides and scanned PDFs as they are extremely time-consuming.

I must say though that when I worked as sworn translator the files I found most difficult to work with were… handwritten documents!


 
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