Which CAT tool is the best?
Computer Aided Translation, more commonly known as CAT, significantly facilitates translator’s work. Thanks to the fact that we can see at the same time both the original text and our translation, our productivity is considerably increased. Each repetition of a phrase automatically appears in the translation window, so you don't have to write or perform a copy-paste operation.
A majority of these programs are paid, but their options go even further - they allow you to use translation memories, so there is a possibility to check how similar the current text is in comparison to the one we translated in the past - or how our colleagues did it. This speeds up our work and makes it more efficient.
SDL Trados - the unquestionable leader on the translation software market
The program has been constantly developed and improved since 1990s. It began to be tremendously important in 1997, when Microsoft decided to translate its software into other languages.
It is the creators of this program that we owe options such as file segmentation, which makes it easier for translators to work with a text. The way that the program works is similar to the operation of other CAT tools. Upon pressing Enter button, SDL Trados scans the translation memory and verifies whether such a sentence has appeared in one of the formerly translated texts. The lower the matching threshold is set, the bigger possibility that you will receive a suggestion of a similar translation from the past. Many users consider 60% to be a perfect threshold.
The advantage of SDL Trados is also that it allows you to read files in many formats. Moreover, people who use it are satisfied that the match level is more accurate than in case of Wordfast.
SLD Trados has one flaw which often deters novice translators from using it. The program is very complex and starting the translation may even require specialized, paid training.
Wordfast – a cheaper alternative
According to the newest research, Wordfast comes second behind when it comes to the frequency of use by translators. One out of many advantages of using Wordfast is that a version which you can download for one computer is completely functional and totally free of charge.
In Wordfast Pro you receive a flexible interface, support for many types of formats and the ability to access unlimited glossaries and translation memory files. Transcheck verifies the translation in terms of spelling and punctuation errors, the frequency with which particular terminology appears and other factors - so you don’t have to check it again in the text editor.
You can also download Wordfast Classic; this version is slightly lighter than the standard application. A 2MB file gives you almost the same possibilities as the original version. The limitation applies to the number of glossaries and file formats.
The advantage of this tool is a possibility of a very quick start of translation, as it is not as complicated and meticulous as SDL Trados. Many people provide positive feedback regarding support and a policy of free updates of the tool within 3 years period from the date of purchase.
The main disadvantage of Wordfast is that it is not as popular as SDL Trados, as it offers slightly less options. Even if Wordfast is a great, free tool for you, over time you will have to learn how to use more complicated CAT tools - such as as SDL Trados or MemoQ - and purchase one of them. Otherwise, you might have trouble working with translation agencies or clients.