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How do I get started with a CAT tool?
Thread poster: ElliCom

ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Member (2009)
German to English
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Jun 8, 2010

I've been translating and interpreting for many years, but only decided to do this full time professionally in the past year. I know that having software is a big plus for getting translator assignments. I have been reading and researching CAT tools, and most of the professionals I speak to have advised me against starting with TRADOS, the apparent industry standard. It's also way too expensive for me at this point (value vs. results).

One of the agencies I work with recommended SDLX or SDLX Lite. I almost downloaded Wordfast, but even the download instructions seemed intimidating. I've recently heard of Metatexis, MemoQ, Across and OmegaT (got great reviews and is free). I'd like to test the software, but can't possibly do that on an actual job.

I'm usually pretty intuitive in learning new software, but I simply don't know how or where to start.

Can anyone help?


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tfaulkner  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:29
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
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I had been asking myself the same question Jun 8, 2010

Hi Elli,

I had been asking myself the same question when I came across the following topic, http://www.proz.com/forum/translator_resources/172399-cat_tools_:_are_they_really_worth_the_investment.html#1518916, with valuable advise from a fellow translator, Attila:

"For most CAT tools, you have either

- a free trial period: 30 days for Deja Vu, 30 days for Trados 2009 Studio, 45 days for MemoQ, 60 days for MetaTexis;
- a free trial software with limited functionality, like for Wordfast.
In the latter case, the limits still allow you to comfortably use all the features of the program with 10-page document – so you can really check whether you like the program.

It is well worth checking out multiple programs, as you may find some more convenient than others. Most of them come with a detailed manual – alas, not Trados Studio 2009.
Check out what users say about customer support, too; I have had excellent feedback about Wordfast and MemoQ.

In many fields where fairly similar texts are translated (e.g., product brochures in subsequent years), they can save a substantial amount of time - AND, they can help you ensure consistency better. In other fields, where creative writing plays an important role, their benefits may be smaller - but may still exist (you can very comfortably look up how you translated similar word combinations, etc.). Again: check it for yourself.

Often, the product formatting is such that it saves the outsourcer some time to use these tools: when lots of images and heavy formatting are involved, extracting the text and using many of the features CAT tools offer may save time on the outsourcer's side. In many cases, this does not require one particular tool - while in other cases you need to master the tools at a very high level if you want to use one instead of the other. Again, there are no hard-and-fast rules that apply to all translators".

I hope it helps you too!

Kind regards,
Tais

[Edited at 2010-06-08 19:34 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:29
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Wordfast Pro Jun 8, 2010

Hi Elli,

I just started working with Wordfast Pro and I love it! I have had no prior experience with CAT tools, so I may be wrong about some of this stuff, but the little bit of information I will provide here really helped me get a basic understanding of the basics of working with a CAT tool. I hope it will help you at least a little. The best thing to do is watch the tutorial videos that are provided for free on the Wordfast site: http://www.wordfast.com/support_learning.html and then create a test file in Word for you to work on (see below).

At first, it all seems very confusing with all the different files, etc., especially when you do not have any files in front of you to translate or open, but after watching the videos and creating a practice file, it could not be simpler.

The usual way to do a translation is to open Word and start typing your translation – either in a blank file or by over-typing the source language.

To translate with a CAT tool, you first have to do a few extra steps:

1) You first open Wordfast and create a project (again, the videos show you how to do this). At this point, you will have to tell the program your source and target languages. The project you save under this file name will be a bilingual file (it will contain both the source and target languages side by side). This is the file that you can convert to Trados format or whatever CAT tool the client has, if necessary.

2) Next, you need to choose which translation memories you wish to use for this file. For example, suppose you have decided to create a separate translation memory for each client (Client A, Client B) and you also have special translation memories for special subjects (Law, Business). Client B sends you a legal document, so for this project, you would select to use both the Client B and Law memories. If you do not have any memories (which you won’t at the start), you can create one by giving it any name. If the client supplies you with a memory, you would also want to select this one.

3) Then, you open the file you want to translate and you will see two columns on the screen – one containing the source and one where you will enter the translation. If you have opened existing TMs, you can select to use them to go ahead and find and translate any matches. You can also decide to use glossaries to pre-translate some terms. Wordfast also provides a free server-based TM that you can use.

4) Each time you complete a segment, you are going to want to press the down arrow at the top or the keyboard shortcut to move onto the next segment AND to save that segment into memory. If there is anything in that new segment that you already translated, the program will let you know (it will be blue if the match is 100% or yellow if there is a word or two you need to change first). You don't have to worry about underlining, bold text, font size, etc. because the program automatically takes care of that for you.

5) Even more useful than matches, down at the bottom of the screen, you will see TM look-up. If you are translating something and cannot remember how you translated that term earlier in the document, you can enter the term here and it will find the term and your translation and show you the context in which it was used.

6) What I did was create a short test file in Word and that really helped me. Just type a series of simple sentences in English or German with some repeated segments (Ich hasse Hunden. / Ich hasse Katzen. / This sentence is underlined. / This sentence is written with a large font.), etc. – press enter twice after each sentence (to create a new paragraph or segment).

7) In the end, you will have three files: The bilingual file you were working on (also called the uncleaned file I believe), the plain Word document (also called the cleaned file) and the TM memory. The TM memory is automatically saved as you finish each segment. However, you will have to save the bilingual file (just regular save) periodically and when you are done for the day (just as you always did). However, when you are completed with the project, you will also have to save the cleaned file (save translated file) which is the word file with the source text removed. Wordfast also has a button at the top that you can press to see a preview of how the document will look in word if you save it.

Hope this helps. Of course, there are a lot more features, but I'm still learning and I have not read the entire manual yet.

[Edited at 2010-06-08 20:18 GMT]


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ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Member (2009)
German to English
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TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to Jeff and Tais Jun 8, 2010

I wonder why I didn't do this earlier.

Tais, I saw the post just after I posted mine. Thanks for following up.

Jeff, your easy to follow instructions are great...I'll probably have to upgrade my computer. It seems to get very tired when I have several windows and 2-3 pdf's open. It has a lot of memory but I think the processor is too weak. So now i get to spend another hour on the phone with Dell. But all this is really helpful and I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond in so much detail.

Now I've got to get back to a plain and simple Word translation.:)

Elli


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Johannes Mueller  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:29
Member (2005)
Dutch to German
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Across Jun 8, 2010

I can highly recommend Across- it is free for freelancers!!!
http://www.my-across.net/en/index.aspx
And then there are free webinars!
Best regards
Johannes


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Drew MacFadyen
SITE STAFF
ProZ.com training Jun 8, 2010

ProZ.com offers a host of training opportunities on CAT Tools - from videos, self paced courses, 3 hour online training, webinars, one on one & in person. All CAT Tool training can be found at http://www.proz.com/translator-training/topic/software-tools-computing

In particular the http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/3217-a-comparison-of-translation-memory-tools video and the complete series - http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/3217-a-comparison-of-translation-memory-tools (6 1 hour videos on 6 CAT Tools) are likely worth reviewing.

Good luck

Drew


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ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Member (2009)
German to English
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Thank you to all my colleagues. Jun 9, 2010

What a wealth of advice! I have discovered what a close-knit and supportive group the translator community is.

I'm glad to be part of it.


Elli


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Paul Cohen  Identity Verified
Greenland
Local time: 14:29
German to English
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MetaTexis Lite is free Jun 9, 2010

MetaTexis Lite can be downloaded for free (and it doesn't turn into a pumpkin after XX days, weeks or years). You can't beat that. The program was designed and developed by a German translator, and it's very user-friendly. I'd give it a try, and if you need a tip or two, feel free to drop me a line.

Check out: www.metatexis.com


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ElliCom  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
Member (2009)
German to English
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Thanks Paul Jun 9, 2010

Now I know who told me about it originally. I don't know if you remember that we chatted some time earlier in the year and you mentioned it. I think I really will look into it now. You also mentioned the voice recognition tool that you use along with it.

Do I need previous experience with CAT tools? i.e. Is it intuitive? Also, is it TRADOS compatible?

I still can't believe how much help I've gotten here. One of the colleagues actually sent me a set up file for another program.


thanks again - nice to hear from you

Elli


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Piotr Bienkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 18:29
Member (2005)
English to Polish
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Swordfish is also worth trying Jun 9, 2010

www.maxprograms.com | Free trial for a month with full functionality.

Trados compatible through:

* TTX (Trados Tageditor)
* SDLXIFF (the new 2009 Trados format)
* Tagged RTF (limited compatibility due to the time of conversion and occasional problems with exported segments, but OK for RTF files with simple formatting).

Regards,

Piotr


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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@ElliCom Jun 9, 2010

ElliCom wrote:
1. One of the agencies I work with recommended SDLX or SDLX Lite. 2. I almost downloaded Wordfast, but even the download instructions seemed intimidating. 3. I've recently heard of Metatexis, MemoQ, Across and OmegaT (got great reviews and is free). 4. I'd like to test the software, but can't possibly do that on an actual job.


1. There is a small group of translators who know how to get the maximum benefit from SDLX or SDL Edit Lite, but I don't know where they hang out. SDLX is expensive and is aimed at corporate users.

2. Well, if the download instructions are too intimidating, then perhaps using CAT tools isn't for you.

3. Across is so bulky that you basically need a separate computer to run it. MemoQ has a growing number of followers. Metatexis is an oldschool program similar to Wordfast (if I remember correctly). OmegaT is perhaps something you should try, but just like all the other programs it also has quirks.

4. Why not do a real job twice -- once in your usual style and once in the CAT tool?


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
Member (2008)
Italian to English
tried this Jun 9, 2010

I've had a look at a few CAT tools and I don't find any of them intuitive. Anything that comes with a heavy manual or requires a course of tuition, and costs $400+ is something I'd be very reluctant to use. I'm still waiting for a CAT tool that is 100% intuitive and that can memorise all of my previous translation projects by me just copy/pasting them, in both languages, into the programme, not piece by piece but a whole translation at a time.

Meanwhile I've been experimenting with macros in MSWord. For each project I create a series of macros that automatically find & replace the most common words or groups of words I use. I then put these macros into a menu I've created in the Word toolbar.

This is already saving me a lot of time although the large number of macros is becoming a little unwieldy. But from doing this, I've learned that a CAT tool is basically just a whole bunch of macros that run through a text and replace things. A TM (translation memory) is just a macro.

Another thing: these macros are really only applicable to technical translations where the terminology is very specific and there are no nuances of meaning. That's what people say about CAT tools too.

So I see a big opportunity for somebody who understands the meaning of the word "intuitive" to develop a really good CAT tool that doesn't have a manual, doesn't require tuition, and doesn't interrupt my workflow.

I would see this as a free, open-source project to be developed by translators themselves. Mozilla Translate, anyone?

[Edited at 2010-06-09 10:11 GMT]


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Johannes Mueller  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:29
Member (2005)
Dutch to German
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To start with something that is for free Jun 9, 2010

Hello,

I still think you should start with something that is free.

What is the point if you spend a lot of money and later find out that it is not worth it or you can not use it? Or you don't need it?

You can always delete Across if you don't like it or want it no more.... and instead buy something nice (like ice-cream))

Johannes


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 18:29
English to Czech
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Agree Jun 9, 2010

Johannes Mueller wrote:

Hello,

I still think you should start with something that is free.

What is the point if you spend a lot of money and later find out that it is not worth it or you can not use it? Or you don't need it?

You can always delete Across if you don't like it or want it no more.... and instead buy something nice (like ice-cream))

Johannes


Although I'm a great Across foe (for a number of reasons) and while I generally agree with Samuel's note on Across, I am with Johannes on this one. Across could be a very good start. It's free and offers all the functionalities you expect from a CAT tool.

However, it should be stressed that Across runs on MS SQL Lite server whose database size is limited to 3 GB. Once this limit is reached, you will either have to purchase full version of Across, or migrate your TMs and TBs into a different tool.

And there's one more plus: Across is so complicated that if you learn how to use it, going over to a different tool will be a piece of cake.

[Upraveno: 2010-06-09 14:52 GMT]


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:29
English to Russian
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I am sorry to say Jun 9, 2010

but if a free and simple Wordfast classic seems to be intimidating
it´s better to abstain from CATs at all. At least before joinin any decent seminar on use of these kind of tools.

Just one example from my experience...
I have managed to download a ´free and nice Across software and install it eventually only after reinstalling Windows OS on my computer twice...



[Edited at 2010-06-09 16:33 GMT]


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