CAT-tools – love them or loathe them …

… as a translator you can’t ignore them, not entirely at least.

Trados is a CAT-tool that it is very hard to ignore (provided you’re a free-lance translator). Not because it is better than all the other CAT-tools out there (well, I don’t think so, certainly not after I laid my busy little hands on Déjà Vu – others might disagree), but Trados is the industry leader, and a lot of agencies will not even consider collaborating with free-lancers who do not have Trados. On the other hand, once you have Trados grumpily sitting on your harddrive, your chances of landing a job from an agency are greatly improved.

Prospective clients who set it as a requirement before they would even consider sending me a test translation, was also the main reason I first invested a (to me) small fortune in this huge, clumsy and intimidating piece of software. But it’s earned its keep; with Trados on my harddrive, I got more agencies on my list of clients, and I was able to start translating full-time.

However, Trados might be a source of income in its own right, but it has also had me pulling my hair out in desperation multiple times when I’ve encountered technical problems, and a deadline was breathing down my neck. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent searching the Internet for solutions to Trados problems, hours I could’ve spent translating (or sleeping for that matter, because business is business, and when you have a deadline to meet, you make sure you can meet it, before you allow yourself the luxury of some old-fashioned sleep), but they are not few, nor are they far between.

Recently, I added Déjà Vu, another CAT-tool, but one the agencies rarely ask for, to the contents of my harddrive. So it doesn’t give me any new clients, but … compared to Trados, I find it a breeze to work with, and I even have a feeling it’s actually speeding up the entire translation process more than Trados ever did. I never timed myself, so yes, I might be wrong, but I feel pretty certain that that’s how it is. Technical errors? Admittedly, I’ve encountered some, but, compared to what I’ve encountered with Trados, they have been few and far between (so far at least). I never really liked working in Trados much. With Déjà Vu I felt something like love at first sight – and keystroke. I guess you have to try both to understand the difference.

As mentioned though, I have encountered problems with both Trados and Déjà Vu, and the solutions to those problems have at times been so well hidden (in the deep layers of some knowledge base where the search function is out of order, or in the dusty and long-forgotten archives of a mailing list) that it seems a miracle anyone would ever come across them again. So I thought I’d make life a little easier for whoever finds themselves facing the same kind of problems I’ve been facing, by publishing the solutions to problems I come across here. Maybe it’ll save someone else a sleepless night when a deadline is looming.

Watch this space …

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