Agencies' own CAT tools
Thread poster: Oliver Walter

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:27
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Dec 29, 2011

I wonder what are your attitudes to, and experience of, in-house CAT tools that agencies ask you to use (I assume they are all TMs - translation-memory tools).

My main objection to them is that each is yet another tool to learn but is of use only for work with that agency. I have only used one yet, but have been invited to use another, which I shall probably refuse. A further disadvantage would arise if such a tool prevents you from building up your own translation mem
... See more
I wonder what are your attitudes to, and experience of, in-house CAT tools that agencies ask you to use (I assume they are all TMs - translation-memory tools).

My main objection to them is that each is yet another tool to learn but is of use only for work with that agency. I have only used one yet, but have been invited to use another, which I shall probably refuse. A further disadvantage would arise if such a tool prevents you from building up your own translation memory while you are using it (by having the TM on the agency's own web site).

Two such tools that I am aware of are: transtool (from cbg, based in Sweden) and Tstream (from Xplanation in Belgium). There may also be one provided by Logos (Italy) but I'm not so sure of this.

Does this seem to be an increasing trend in the industry? What are translators' attitudes to them in general?

Oliver

(I hope this is an appropriate forum for this topic).

[Edited at 2011-12-30 21:14 GMT]
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Tim van den Oudenhoven
Germany
Local time: 12:27
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
+ ...
check the word count Dec 30, 2011

I've had this too a couple of times and I noticed that the word counts never match when compared to a Trados analysis, sometimes even up to 30% less. One constant is that it's never in your favour, at least there are certainties in life.

There are some tools that make it deliberately hard to verify the word count, because they are spread on lots of web pages and you'd have to copy and paste all in a Word doc to check the word count.

I've only rarely worked with these
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I've had this too a couple of times and I noticed that the word counts never match when compared to a Trados analysis, sometimes even up to 30% less. One constant is that it's never in your favour, at least there are certainties in life.

There are some tools that make it deliberately hard to verify the word count, because they are spread on lots of web pages and you'd have to copy and paste all in a Word doc to check the word count.

I've only rarely worked with these (for new clients) and will always try to get the source document to do a wordcount check (the PM's, certainly in big agencies, aren't always aware that this practice goes on at their company). In my experience, they are also full of bugs and they make you think that even Trados is the most bug-free tool on the planet.

I recognise the TM issue.
With most clients, a non-disclosure agreement does state that the translated text is the property of the agency and that you should delete it after XX months. So in essence, we can't really complain about not getting the TM. Still, it's in a client's best interest to preserve consistency, so giving you access to a copy for future reference just makes sense.
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Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
They'll be the bane of the translator Dec 30, 2011

Picture this:

Project Manager: "So, Mr. Grau, what experience do you have in the field of networking software?"

Me: "I have an MS in Computer Science and for the last year I've been doing lots of Cisco material for InterTransGlobalSoftLingua."

PM: "Excelent! This material is Cisco-related, so you'll be able to maintain consistency."

Me: "Only as far as I am able to recall their terminology. You see, I don't actually have access to the Cisco tra
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Picture this:

Project Manager: "So, Mr. Grau, what experience do you have in the field of networking software?"

Me: "I have an MS in Computer Science and for the last year I've been doing lots of Cisco material for InterTransGlobalSoftLingua."

PM: "Excelent! This material is Cisco-related, so you'll be able to maintain consistency."

Me: "Only as far as I am able to recall their terminology. You see, I don't actually have access to the Cisco translation memory. Or to the glossary."

PM: "Surely you can then provide samples of the material you translated."

Me: "Sorry, no can do. They never sent me anything. Their system was web-based."

PM: "Do you mean to tell me that after a whole year you have nothing to show me? An invoice, perhaps?"

Me: "Nope. I also invoiced them through their in-house web-based system. But I can forward you some emails..."

PM: [Click!]


[Edited at 2011-12-30 05:31 GMT]
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:27
French to German
+ ...
A question easily solved AFAIAC Dec 30, 2011

A question easily solved AFAIAC: most of these tools are only supported by MS Windows machines and I run an iMac.

This is where the line is drawn for me.

And Daniel - thanks for the (somewhat bitter) laugh!


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:27
Swedish to English
+ ...
No thanks Dec 30, 2011

Oliver Walter wrote:
I wonder what are your attitudes to, and experience of, in-house CAT tools that agencies ask you to use

My experience of in-house CAT tools is nil, so my attitude is "No thanks". Like Oliver, I do not want to have to learn yet another application, particularly one of limited utility.

Only this morning I received yet another invitation to download a special CAT tool. So it becomes a straight commercial decision – use their software, or run the risk of losing a customer. Having devoted quite a lot of time and effort to creating a Trados termbase (very useful), my answer will probably be "No thanks".

Oliver, thanks for raising this important topic.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:27
Member
English to French
Web-based vs. proprietary CAT tools Jan 1, 2012

Oliver Walter wrote:
I wonder what are your attitudes to, and experience of, in-house CAT tools that agencies ask you to use (I assume they are all TMs - translation-memory tools).

My main objection to them is that each is yet another tool to learn but is of use only for work with that agency. I have only used one yet, but have been invited to use another, which I shall probably refuse. A further disadvantage would arise if such a tool prevents you from building up your own translation memory while you are using it (by having the TM on the agency's own web site).

Overall I am reluctant to using any in-house CAT tool due to the same issues you state, but I have tried a few offline in-house TM tools, and I still work on such a program with an occasional customer.
Another hindrance of these CAT tools is usually their rather limited functionality in terms of search, concordance, propagation, checks, etc. compared to other serious CAT tools. Or maybe I am too lazy to learn about them properly.
At any rate, I don't work with Web-based tools, whether proprietary or commercial (too much latency with my satellite connection).
Two such tools that I am aware of are: transtool (from cbg, based in Sweden) and Tstream (from Xplanation in Belgium). There may also be one provided by Logos (Italy) but I'm not so sure of this.

Mneme Suite was Logos' offline TM tool, not sure what it is now.
There are tools where even the source file is 'virtual', meaning that you don't even have an offline copy of it on your computer.
Does this seem to be an increasing trend in the industry? What are translators' attitudes to them in general?

More than home-made CAT tools, web-based tools seem to be an increasing trend. Most major CAT tools have server/client features, so that the whole translation process is done online, with a remote TM.
Consequently: the remote TM administrator or a Big Brother in charge could potentially monitor at what time you start, how many words you do in an hour, how many times you edit a segment on average, how many hours a day you work, how many breaks you have a day, whether you work at weekends and maybe what features of the program you use most. I may be overly paranoid, but potentially having somebody over my shoulder when I work makes me very uneasy.

So both for practical and philosophical reasons, Web-based tools are a definite No-no. Agencies can send an offline TM and update their remote TM with the bilingual files delivered. And too bad for projects with several translators working on the same remote TM updated in real time, I don't do and I don't feel worse about it.

Philippe


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:27
French to German
+ ...
Paranoia? Not! Jan 2, 2012

Philippe Etienne wrote:
(.../...)

Consequently: the remote TM administrator or a Big Brother in charge could potentially monitor at what time you start, how many words you do in an hour, how many times you edit a segment on average, how many hours a day you work, how many breaks you have a day, whether you work at weekends and maybe what features of the program you use most. I may be overly paranoid, but potentially having somebody over my shoulder when I work makes me very uneasy.

(.../...)

Philippe


Well and not ages ago, this was the exact way in which translators were threatened in a job offer. I should have taken a screen shot of it.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No thanks Jan 2, 2012

One of my earliest clients had its own CAT and remote server. They were nice people and I needed the work.

However, the spell checker was abysmal, and now and then the entire system would freeze for updates... while I typed on, and two or three segments would be garbled... Occasionally it went over to a German keyboard instead of the Danish one I use, and then I had to delete, close down, restart computer from scratch and pray that this had re-set the keyboard. It often took three o
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One of my earliest clients had its own CAT and remote server. They were nice people and I needed the work.

However, the spell checker was abysmal, and now and then the entire system would freeze for updates... while I typed on, and two or three segments would be garbled... Occasionally it went over to a German keyboard instead of the Danish one I use, and then I had to delete, close down, restart computer from scratch and pray that this had re-set the keyboard. It often took three or four attempts. The delay meant deadlines were always too tight.

Generally the mechanics were so distracting that I could barely concentrate on translation. There was no way I could get a WYSIWYG for proofreading, so checking formatting meant reading the tags...

This agency also sent jobs that I could set up in Trados, or PDFs that could not be opened by a CAT, and then I was far happier to work for them!

Finally they decided that they would only work with translators resident in a country where their target language was spoken... and they dropped me. I find it an enormous advantage to live with my source language, as my target is English, and there is no escaping it, even if I wanted to.

I do work with agencies who have remote servers and TMs for Trados, as in my case these tend to be in Denmark and reliable.

But after that experience, I refuse to work with agencies' own CATS.

The nice thing is that one of my favourite PMs from the first agency looked me up after moving to a new agency, and we are back in business - with Trados, exchanging TMs, and with no remote servers.

Stand firm on this issue, because the chances are that CATs on the free market are developed by competition, and it is up to the translator to decide which to use, if any at all.
If a CAT is no use, people will stop buying it.
I suspect these 'captive' tools are not developed with the translator's interests as the first priority, and they may be neither user-friendly nor up to date.
They are deliberately not compatible with other CATs, and if in-house translators are happy with them that is their affair, but they are not suitable for freelancers.




[Edited at 2012-01-02 12:58 GMT]
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Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
Re: No Thanks Jan 2, 2012

However, the spell checker was abysmal

I forgot that one.

In Word, I have custom dictionaries for each client's client, so that spell checking no longer stops at "questionable" terms. Plus, I have Word's Thesaurus, the Spanish version of which is excellent, and many a time it's a must when you need to find that "just right" term.


 

Gabriela Diosiova  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:27
English to Slovak
Don't like it Jan 2, 2012

I recently worked on a small project in online tool and did a training for another one.

I see mostly cons:

1. Don't see the whole document, as it is spread out on numerous pages, by same token, I can's see the completed translation as one document
2. You have to click a button to confirm and unconfirm translation, move from page to page, each time the page reloads
3. The window to type in my translation in one tool is tiny, with tiny font. Problem to place t
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I recently worked on a small project in online tool and did a training for another one.

I see mostly cons:

1. Don't see the whole document, as it is spread out on numerous pages, by same token, I can's see the completed translation as one document
2. You have to click a button to confirm and unconfirm translation, move from page to page, each time the page reloads
3. The window to type in my translation in one tool is tiny, with tiny font. Problem to place the cursor in the right spot.
4. Bugs in the system - everytime I ran over a button - the tool tip followed my cursor and was covering the text I wanted to see
5. I have to be online
6. It took me 5 times longer to do the translation

I hope no more of my clients request me to start using these online tools. I invested quite a bit of money and time into CAT of my own choice and I hate to be forced to start using something, that's so extremely time inefficient and frustrating.
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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:27
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
1. Interesting comments, 2. Transtool Jan 2, 2012

1.
Thanks to all of you for your interesting comments (and as far as I'm concerned, further comments are still welcome). I did expect some hostility and suspicion about these in-house CATs, but not as much as you have in fact shown! Your replies will give me confidence and moral support when I reply negatively in the future to requests to use an in-house CAT tool.
2.
In case anybody is interested: the in-house CAT tool that I have used is cbg's Transtool. It's a program to inst
... See more
1.
Thanks to all of you for your interesting comments (and as far as I'm concerned, further comments are still welcome). I did expect some hostility and suspicion about these in-house CATs, but not as much as you have in fact shown! Your replies will give me confidence and moral support when I reply negatively in the future to requests to use an in-house CAT tool.
2.
In case anybody is interested: the in-house CAT tool that I have used is cbg's Transtool. It's a program to install on the translator's computer (i.e. not web-based) from a downloaded file of just a few megabytes. I found it not very difficult to use and my overall verdict is "not bad". It doesn't show you the original document or the appearance of the translated one, but the agency will usually send the original as a PDF file.
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Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:27
French to German
+ ...
Oliver, as per point 2... Jan 3, 2012

this is my main criticism towards downloadable tools (not that most online tools would be better): they are only supported by MS Windows.

I feel that the objective of agencies wanting us to use "their" tools should be to ensure that they can run with all operating systems or at least the 3 mostly used: Windows, Linux and Mac.

Also there already are online CAT tools which offer this possibility, so agency-proprietary systems are already obsolete IMHO.

Edit:
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this is my main criticism towards downloadable tools (not that most online tools would be better): they are only supported by MS Windows.

I feel that the objective of agencies wanting us to use "their" tools should be to ensure that they can run with all operating systems or at least the 3 mostly used: Windows, Linux and Mac.

Also there already are online CAT tools which offer this possibility, so agency-proprietary systems are already obsolete IMHO.

Edit: I use TT once in the framework of a test translation. Although the general principles of CAT tools are there, their actual implementation in this particular tool seemed rather clumsy and demanding, while I had the impression that the tool in itself was a bit outdated.

[Edited at 2012-01-03 09:18 GMT]
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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:27
English to German
+ ...
In memoriam
Traceability Jan 3, 2012

My main concern with online tools is traceability on my side.
I worked several years for a company offering both, an online tool which I refused to use, but with an option to download the file to be translated and to upload the translated file.
One day the customer came back to me claiming that I misspelled the trade name of the end customer's product and that they had to rework a complete brochure.

Only because I still had the file with the translation that I uploaded
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My main concern with online tools is traceability on my side.
I worked several years for a company offering both, an online tool which I refused to use, but with an option to download the file to be translated and to upload the translated file.
One day the customer came back to me claiming that I misspelled the trade name of the end customer's product and that they had to rework a complete brochure.

Only because I still had the file with the translation that I uploaded (with the correct version) enabled me to proof that it wasn't me who introduced this error. If I would have used their online tool, I would have had no proof at all.
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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:27
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
OmegaT ? Jan 3, 2012

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:
this is my main criticism towards downloadable tools (not that most online tools would be better): they are only supported by MS Windows.

I feel that the objective of agencies wanting us to use "their" tools should be to ensure that they can run with all operating systems or at least the 3 mostly used: Windows, Linux and Mac.


OmegaT can run under all OSs (at least Windows, Mac and gnu/Linux) because it's written in Java. Of course, it's not an agency's in-house CAT tool, and in any case I don't use it because it insists on doing all the segmentation for itself. The user can define segmentation rules but I will only use a CAT tool that allows me to specify any individual segment while I am doing the translation - the segmentation rules cannot know what I am thinking.


 

George Trail  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:27
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Warning Jan 4, 2012

Personally, I'd be more likely than not to refuse any translation project where an agency expects you to work with its own translation software, lest it be a ploy for installing malware on your computer! Also, it has already been mentioned on this site that there are people out there who expect you to pay for access to their own translation tools but then you never actually get any work (another scam).

On a lighter note, it's nice that there are people besides me willing to admit pu
... See more
Personally, I'd be more likely than not to refuse any translation project where an agency expects you to work with its own translation software, lest it be a ploy for installing malware on your computer! Also, it has already been mentioned on this site that there are people out there who expect you to pay for access to their own translation tools but then you never actually get any work (another scam).

On a lighter note, it's nice that there are people besides me willing to admit publicly that they have no experience in CAT tools despite how much is said about how important they are.
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