Which CAT tool is the easiest to use?
When too much choice is stressing us out – making the right decision
Having too many options to choose may be just as stressful as having no choice at all. At least in the latter case we can agree onto some options that are imposed on us, instead of taking full responsibility for our decisions. Nowadays one of the most important decisions that majority of CEOs and freelance translators face at a certain point of their career path is the decision to leap forward and take advantage of computer assisted translation tools – commonly abbreviated as CAT tools. The decision to implement such a ground-breaking change is stressful enough, but it becomes even harder when we start considering all of the options available on the market.
Why ease of use is so crucial?
Individual translators and agencies focus on the most basic criteria when making a choice; both sides would greatly benefit from software that would bring instant profits instead of unforeseen problems. While the issue of something being “easy” or not is definitely relative, depending on user’s former experience with such software, some of these programs are highly advanced and complex, demanding far more effort from a beginner. For a freelance translator that means further expenses, as they have to learn how to use the program on their own; some of them consider the intricacies of such software far too demanding and decide to start the training, be it on-line or during two- or three-day-long masterclasses. For translation agencies it is even more complicated, as depending on enterprise size it might require training of several people, with costs inevitably piling up. In this case, the revolutionary change turns into a long-lasting process requiring guidance from more experienced specialists… and generating financial problems rather than helping in establishing a stable position on the market.
Which one out of all the programs available at the market is most likely to exceed your expectations?
For a long time the only CAT tool that immediately came to everyone’s mind was Trados. As much as this is not surprising at all, given its long presence on the market and popularity among experienced translators, SDL’s competitors have completely changed the stagnant landscape. For years Trados was considered to be the best – but not necessarily the most user-friendly. Beginner translators would constantly complain about its hidden features and problematic interface, as well as lack of support from specialists who would gladly share a more experienced user’s valuable advice.
Trados still keeps its leader position in the popularity race, but its competitors are just behind its back, ready to leap forward. There are two most prominent players in the field right now, namely MemoQ and Memsource; they remain largely underrated by wide majority and highly praised by specialists using them. Both share a significantly simplified interface while completely retaining their feature-rich character. This case proves that simpler does not necessarily equal lower standard – many linguists try MemoQ and Memsource thanks to their free trials and then decide to buy a monthly subscription in order to gain access to more advanced options. Due to their intuitive usage, even beginner translators will be able to explore what the software is capable of - and to do so on their own. The user can also effortlessly create numerous term bases and translation memories, successfully using formerly completed orders to facilitate future work. Despite the older generations being rather suspicious when it comes to innovative solutions, both MemoQ and Memsource are worth trying – just to see how easy and intuitive CAT tools can be.
Do not be afraid to try different options – that’s what free trials are for!
Virtually any CAT tool can be tested for a certain period of time (usually 30 days, allowing the specialist to try out various features and make sure that a given tool meets their expectations). This free trial usually offers the full version of the software, allowing the linguist to discover its full potential and ensure which of the tested programs suits their needs best. CAT tools are not cheap, but there is a wide array of them, so remember about one thing – do not rush, give yourself time to consider the features that are crucial for your work and decide which ones certainly won’t be missed; decisions like these should never be made on the spur of the moment. It is also tough to state unanimously that a given solution surpasses the others, as every translator has different needs and is able to adopt to dynamic changes in a various way; therefore, the only way to find out which tool would be most beneficial to you is to simply try them on their own and carefully consider all of the advantages and disadvantages – it’s as simple as can be.