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General strike against TRADOS and other expensive CAT tools
Thread poster: Thomas Johansson

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:28
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Join the strike anyway, Katalin Feb 25, 2011

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

It is amazing and amusing how long this discussion has become. I am sorry that I do not have time to read all contributions; I am just responding to the initial idea here.

Sorry, Thomas, I don't get it. Strikes are meaningful for employees, where the employer has nobody else to get the work done. We are freelancers, so a "strike" of any kind is pretty useless. (Unless the freelancer world became unionized overnight, and I did not get the memo.) If you are on "strike" for any reason, the outsourcer will just find another translator to do the job.

As to organizing a "strike" against some CAT-tools, now you really got me lost.
You said the "strike" would entail not taking any work that requires the use of the designated CAT-tools.
This does not make sense.



Ok, Katalin, I get your points of view and understand you feel a strike would be meaningless, and I respect that.

BUT TRY TO JOIN THE STRIKE ANYWAY!

Let's see what comes out of it!

Maybe you/we will be surprised and something positive does come out of it in the end.

Thomas


 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:28
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
you too, Riccardo Feb 25, 2011

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Thomas Johansson wrote:
Secondly, you yourself and many others do not seem to have ANY conception of what could be a reasonable price for these products. You simply seem to accept whatever prices happen to be currently used and defend them on a whole set of assumptions yourselves.


Price is whatever the market will bear.

"Reasonable" is a subjective concept. What is reasonable for me may not be reasonable for you. Moreover, what is "reasonable" for the buyer may not have much in common with what is reasonable for the seller.

Just as I decide the rates for my translations, I believe in the same liberty for the companies that sell me the tools that help me do my job.

This discussion would be much more productive if instead of fixating on such a nebulous concept, you talked instead of what is "affordable".

You would then see that what is perhaps not affordable for a part-time or amateur translator, is a requisite, and quite affordable, for a professional.



Same for you, Riccardo. Obviously, you oppose the whole idea quite fervently, and that is fine.

BUT JOIN US ANYWAY! Be inconsistent with your opinions, just for a moment! Give it a chance. Let's see what happens.

Go out have a coffee, play soccer with the other local translator in the park, whatever. Or just don't use that trados or whatever else you use for that single day.

It's just a strike for one, single day. Not much evil can come out of that.

Thomas


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:28
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
This can't be real Feb 26, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

Ok, Katalin, I get your points of view and understand you feel a strike would be meaningless, and I respect that.

BUT TRY TO JOIN THE STRIKE ANYWAY!

Let's see what comes out of it!

Maybe you/we will be surprised and something positive does come out of it in the end.

Thomas


Thomas, you are kidding, right?
I just explained why I think the whole idea is STEW-PEED (I tried to be more diplomatic, though) and your response is to "strike anyway".

Sure, I will try to "strike", but it will be at the bowling alley tomorrow.

Katalin


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:28
Italian to English
In memoriam
Timing Feb 26, 2011

Now is perhaps not the time to propose a boycott of Trados (BTW workers "strike", consumers or users "boycott").

The translation market is booming with hordes of new translators (and agencies and software products) flooding in. A boycott in the present circumstances is highly unlikely to have any effect, or even be much noticed.

OTOH, specialised translators are in increasing demand, a fact reflected in rising rates at the top end of the market, whereas the apparently i
... See more
Now is perhaps not the time to propose a boycott of Trados (BTW workers "strike", consumers or users "boycott").

The translation market is booming with hordes of new translators (and agencies and software products) flooding in. A boycott in the present circumstances is highly unlikely to have any effect, or even be much noticed.

OTOH, specialised translators are in increasing demand, a fact reflected in rising rates at the top end of the market, whereas the apparently infinite supply of translators at the lower end, which is under pressure from machine translation anyway, means that agencies have no need to offer higher rates for the drudgy stuff that requires little specialist knowledge.

Other software houses, and the translators who use their software, should be thanking Trados, which has set the price bar fairly high in the translation software market. The rich pickings at this level have tempted talented people to invest time and money in the translation market (Atril, Wordfast, MemoQ and the rest of gang), all of which boosts our productivity, precision and bank balance.

The only thing we have to do is earn enough money to afford the software, which is not beyond our ingenuity, particularly if we first specialise and then network with other specialised translators to ensure clients get the best possible translation.

At our price.

[Edited at 2011-02-26 08:32 GMT]
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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:28
English to Czech
+ ...
Indeed Feb 26, 2011

Giles Watson wrote:
The only thing we have to do is earn enough money to afford the software, which is not beyond our ingenuity, particularly if we first specialise and then network with other specialised translators to ensure clients get the best possible translation.

At our price.


Thank you, Giles. This is what I've been trying to explain in my previous posts, but apparently failed to succeed.


 

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:28
Member (2004)
English to Polish
What to do, what to do? Feb 26, 2011

I am also a bit lost about what the strikers will actually do...

Will they refrain from buying a tool which they were not going to buy (or could not afford) anyway?

Or will they declare not to use a tool which they do not have?

As you realize, I am against this silly idea. However, Thomas' rally has struck the romantic chord in me, that I have decided to join in, if only for a short time.

Therefore, I pledge I shall not buy expensive
... See more
I am also a bit lost about what the strikers will actually do...

Will they refrain from buying a tool which they were not going to buy (or could not afford) anyway?

Or will they declare not to use a tool which they do not have?

As you realize, I am against this silly idea. However, Thomas' rally has struck the romantic chord in me, that I have decided to join in, if only for a short time.

Therefore, I pledge I shall not buy expensive CAT tools for the whole day!

As a bonus, I will throw in tomorrow, as it is Sunday. No promises about Monday though - those software group buys look so tempting...

[Edited at 2011-02-26 08:19 GMT]
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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:28
English to Czech
+ ...
CATs and web design tools Feb 26, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
And explain why developing a CAT tool should be much more expensive than developing, say, an advanced text editor for web development. And do that without exaggerating the internal design of CAT tools vis-a-vis other types of software.


Thomas, if you can't see the difference between a webdesign tool and a CAT, there's really not much to discuss. All I need to design a static, CSS-based website is Windows Notepad and if I knew more about PHP or ASPX, I could develop a dynamic website with Notepad just as well.

The only thing Adobe Dreamweaver, Microsoft Expression Web and similar tools provide me with is a graphic interface to help me see what I am actually coding and some QA checkers to detect e.g. a missing closing tag (that I would discover immediately after opening my design in an Internet browser anyway). And still, Adobe Dreamweaver costs $ 400. What justifies this price?

The difference between CATs and webdesign tools is that CATs need to work create, maintain and work with databases, provide filters for a number of different file types and have at least some basic project management tools. They are in fact all-in-one tools.

Rather than comparing CATs to webdesign tools, try to compare their prices to technical documentation application and suites (again e.g. Adobe FrameMaker or Adobe RoboHelp) or to professional, advanced database handlers. I believe this comparison would be much more suitable in terms of functionalities.

And one more, rather general comment: I've always found it intriguing, how much money are people willing to spend e.g. on their mobile phone and how much hesitant they are if they are to buy something that should help them in their professional development.

[Upraveno: 2011-02-26 09:34 GMT]


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:28
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
I join! Feb 26, 2011

Jabberwock wrote:

Therefore, I pledge I shall not buy expensive CAT tools for the whole day!

As a bonus, I will throw in tomorrow, as it is Sunday.

[Edited at 2011-02-26 08:19 GMT]


Great, Jabberwock! Let me join!

I agree: Thomas' venture is utmostly silly.


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Me too... Feb 26, 2011

I'm not buying any CAT Tools at all tomorrow...

 

Thomas Johansson  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 14:28
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The internal design of CAT tools Feb 26, 2011

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

The difference between CATs and webdesign tools is that CATs need to work create, maintain and work with databases,



Thank you, Stanislav, I appreciate your critical comments on these issues.

You mentioned databases in a previous post as well as if it would complicate the interior design of CATs substantially.

But that's really not the case.

While database software as such of course are very complicated internally, _using_ such a database software as part of an application is really not a very complicated matter at all.

Designing your database structure (i.e. determining what data tables - and sometimes multiple databases - to use and define their internal structures) does take some thought and planning, but it is a quite straightforward matter.

And interacting with the database software throughout the code is also quite straightforward. Most database software come with well defined interfaces for managing the data (databases, tables, entries, indexes, etc.), including for operations such as reading, updating, selecting, deleting data records, creating/deleting/updating tables, etc.
All you need to do in the code is to draw on the means of interaction defined by the interface (often using a so-called structured query language (SQL), which is a grammatically defined language that enables you to quickly access the database for such operations).

Overall, developing an application using a database software therefore greatly facilitates the entire data management issue.

In particular, it is much easier than defining your data handling schemes using your own datafiles (whether plain text or binary), because in the latter case you also need to worry about creating (and debugging...) the functionality for all those operations which the database software already come equipped with (reading, updating, deleting, etc.).

However, databases also come along with a few drawbacks:

(1) (often) unnecessary overhead (since database software are designed as general solutions for data management in general and not for specific applications)

(2) the necessity to install the relevant database software on the relevant machine

(3) difficulties for humans to easily access the data without a special GUI (e.g. a glossary stored as a simple text file with source terms in column 1 and target terms in column 2, like in Wordfast, is much easier for human translators to access and modify than a glossary stored as a database table under a database software such as MS SQL or MySQL etc.)

Ultimately, the decision whether (i) to use a database software or (ii) to store your data in normal flatfiles, using your own system for accessing such data, is a fundamental design decision that must be based on an overall consideration of the application (design requirement, timeframe, etc.).

But I want to make at least this much clear:

- If you opt for using a readymade database software (i.e. (i) above), then you are definitely facilitating your entire development project (at least in terms of reaching your final product more quickly).

Although in the long run, I also suspect that it also may reduce the performance of your application somewhat. But, again, that is a matter of design.



provide filters for a number of different file types.



Yes, I agree. I mentioned various such basic "filters" in my list of requirements for a basic CAT tool. (I like your word "filter" here.) A basic CAT tool can easily come with a few such filters for some common file types (Word's doc, HTML, Excel's xls, PDF).

Presumably, such filters will all be developed using some common (or more or less common) set of functionality.

During later stages of the development process of the CAT tool, you gradually develop more filters for other file types. This takes some time, but from point of view of overall design, the process is not particularly complicated.



and have at least some basic project management tools



Could be. But again, here we are ultimately just talking about data management (to hold data about, for instance, projects, subprojects/tasks, and perhaps also about various translators, project managers, etc.) and the necessary GUI. Not a major issue.



Rather than comparing CATs to webdesign tools, try to compare their prices to technical documentation application and suites (again e.g. Adobe FrameMaker or Adobe RoboHelp) or to professional, advanced database handlers. I believe this comparison would be much more suitable in terms of functionalities.



I wanted to compare with software strictly based on the degree of internal complexity (and correspondingly, the time of work required to actually develop such software). (And, specifically, with regard to a "basic CAT tool" as I defined this in that earlier post of mine)

Therefore, for the purposes of such a comparison, I prefer to avoid comparing with "professionally loaded" software - by which I mean software whose pricing is also based on other factors than such internal design/complexity (in particular: tools whose pricing is strongly influenced by the availability of an affluent group of buyers, e.g. professionals, who are willing to pay a lot for the software for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual internal design/complexity of the software, such as possible professional needs or eventual economic returns on the purchase).

By making the comparison strictly on the basis of internal design/complexity, we can get at a good estimate of what pricing is required in present market conditions for making a business venture based on the type of software in question plausible.

In a previous post, I have shown that software with an internal design complexity comparable with that of a basic CAT tool are regularly available on the market at around USD 35-40. This is, I should point out, also after several years of existence and continuous development of additional features.
While this observation should not automatically imply that CAT tools also must cost USD 35-40, it does at least put some serious question marks over current pricing levels.

[Edited at 2011-02-26 21:23 GMT]


 

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Swedish to English
+ ...
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can't be done Feb 26, 2011

"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay... See more
"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."

Attributed to John Ruskin

Madeleine
Not a T....s user, but with some appreciation of the cost of developing advanced software and prepared to pay for this if it increases my ROI.

BTW - the above quote could also be used when dealing with some agencies.

[Edited at 2011-02-26 23:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-02-27 01:15 GMT]
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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:28
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Your "logic" contains a lot of bumps Feb 27, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:
In a previous post, I have shown that software with an internal design complexity comparable with that of a basic CAT tool are regularly available on the market at around USD 35-40.
This is, I should point out, also after several years of existence and continuous development of additional features.
While this observation should not automatically imply that CAT tools also must cost USD 35-40, it does at least put some serious question marks over current pricing levels.


Pardon me, Thomas, but you have shown nothing. You only make unsubstantiated claims about how you think things are or should be. You have included no official statistics, numbers or quotes from relevant people to back up your statements. No realistic project plan for the development of your basic CAT tool with a 1-year development time at a cost of $90.000. Just because you say so doesn't make it true!

You don't really want lower-end CAT tools for $35-40 dollars, no, you want the first-class, feature-rich functionality of high-end CAT tools at the same price of low-end CAT tools. Wouldn't we all be terribly happy about such a thing? You bet! Is this even remotely close to the realities of the software development process, not to mention the free market economy? No. Because the development of these extra features costs money, ie. "extraordinary investments not covered by ongoing sales" are necessary, and these, even in your opinion, justify price increases.

The more complex a software program becomes, the more code needs to be written, re-written, maintained, debugged, fixed (and fixed again since the fixes often cause more bugs in different places). More complex documentation, more tech support as there will be more customer questions due to the higher complexity, more programmers to handle the higher amounts of code, more specialization among the programmers due to the higher complexity, more QA staff as the QA process of the more complex program takes much longer, more sales/marketing staff in order to generate more income to keep up with the rising costs, more managers to manage the additional staff and divisions. Not to forget: all employees want their regular salary increases.

In your list of OK tools, there are also free tools.
If we were to follow your line of reasoning from the quote on top:
Since comparable basic CAT tools also come for free, we should put some serious question marks on all tools that cost anything. If some vendors can do it for free, why not everybody?

According to your logic there shouldn't be any software product that costs more than 40 bucks: For every high-end program there are tons of cheap or even free basic tools around that offer the same basic functionality of their big brothers. Why don't you include all software products in your strike that cost more than 40 bucks, why single out and stop with the CAT industry?

CAT tools are intended for a rather limited market. It's not like MS Office, where pretty much every single computer in every office and the majority of home computers runs a copy - in every single country of the world. Yet the CAT tool vendors have to spend as much money on their development as vendors of tools for a much larger market. In order for them to generate the same amount of revenue, they need to sell their tools for more. If you compare CAT tools with MS Office in this regard - don't you think we should all rather boycott MS Office?


 

PT Translati (X)
United States
Local time: 12:28
Japanese to English
I have an idea... Feb 27, 2011

Wow. Can't believe this has gone 16 pgs. Reminds me of the "boycott gasoline" idea that went around when gas was near 5 USD.

I propose that all translators in my language combo take part in this strike


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:28
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
You have not shown: you have asserted Feb 27, 2011

Thomas Johansson wrote:

In a previous post, I have shown that software with an internal design complexity comparable with that of a basic CAT tool are regularly available on the market at around USD 35-40. This is, I should point out, also after several years of existence and continuous development of additional features.


You are making a circular argument: you assert (without a shred of proof, and no, you own opinion doesn't count as proof) that the internal complexity of a couple of random applications is comparable to that of a basic CAT tool. You then compare the price of those applications to high-end CAT tools (conveniently forgetting that there are other applications in the same software categories that cost more than your example price), and from that you deduce that high-end CAT tools' prices are "unreasonable".

Since all of that is based on your unproven assertion, your logic falls down.


 

DouglasCarnall  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:28
French to English
head for the goodness of gnu Feb 28, 2011

I sympathise with the spirit of the proposal to strike over software tools, but in a world of 375,000 competing freelancers, it is unlikely to gain much traction, and is therefore a politically naïve proposal.

Being locked in to a huge investment of both time and money in proprietary software is not a pleasant position to be in. Rather than a strike, I'd suggest that everyone migrates to the goodness of gnu, and starts to use free software. OmegaT works and conforms to the free sof
... See more
I sympathise with the spirit of the proposal to strike over software tools, but in a world of 375,000 competing freelancers, it is unlikely to gain much traction, and is therefore a politically naïve proposal.

Being locked in to a huge investment of both time and money in proprietary software is not a pleasant position to be in. Rather than a strike, I'd suggest that everyone migrates to the goodness of gnu, and starts to use free software. OmegaT works and conforms to the free software philosophy. It'll run on Windows I believe, but you might as well get out from under Microsoft while you're about it, as Ubuntu 10.10 is really very good indeed.

As a startup, I don't have to worry about migrating an existing database from a proprietary product, but if the demand is there, tools will arrive...

If you are a Trados/Wordfast/Déjà Vu user and would like to understand your predicament better (and how to escape) this is a good discussion with links to follow:

http://baldwinsoftware.com/blog/2010/02/18/a-laymans-thoughs-on-freedom-of-information-and-open-file-formats/
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