Translation memory software is a useful tool for translators; improving their speed, accuracy and efficiency. In fact, translators, agencies and clients alike are discovering the benefits of this technology, also known as Computer-Assisted Translation software, or CAT, and are looking to invest in a suitable solution.
Technology in this area is moving fast, as service providers strive to offer the all-inclusive solution for their potential customers, who wish to streamline the management of their translation projects; software that can offer translation memory and more.
In our blog this week, Mission Translate looks to review the software of three of these providers. One of them is a well-established, known brand within the industry and the other two are newer providers, who with their fresh approach are making great strides in gaining traction in the sector. Are they able to compete with a provider that has been dominant in this market for so long?
SDL Trados, the newest version being Studio 2019, claims to be the most popular CAT tool on the market, with over 250,000 professionals using the product worldwide. Without a doubt, it is certainly the most well-known and the oldest. Trados launched the first version of its product in 1984 and was acquired by SDL in 2005.
The ethos of SDL Trados is to offer quality in translation work with its memory software and provide users with efficiency, speed and consistency.
Many translators comment on its usefulness when working on large files, where there are repeating phrases and terminology. The ability to share the translation memory with other linguists is also a plus point for this product, allowing for consistency of terminology across translations when multiple linguists work on one file.
Certainly, the effectiveness of SDL Trados’ software as a translation memory tool is undeniable. Its ability for memory recall, terminology management and review functions for quality assurance has been built up using many years of experience. Simply the size of its market share confirms how useful this software is for translators.
However, the history of this product could also be leading to one of its downfalls. Having been built up, developed and updated over many years, it has been noted by some translators that the program is incredibly complex.
Although the objective given by SDL Trados is centred around user experience, in reality it is not that user-friendly. Comments from users have included that you need to be experienced in using CAT tools to be able to navigate this software and make the most effective use of the options available. With 700 commands and 1300 settings, it is unsurprising that it can be a little overwhelming. Whether SDL’s new ‘Tell Me’ option is useful for this navigation remains to be seen.
Another flaw identified by users is the speed of some of the functions. Particularly when working with large memories, the program is seen as slow and also sometimes ‘buggy’.
SDL Trados’ main focus does seem to be on the translation memory side of the software, which is probably why it is used by mostly translators themselves. It does have other features that support the requirements of the other stakeholders, such project creation and navigation, and file amendments or updates mid project, but these are not as comprehensive as some other providers.
The knowledge and expertise behind SDL Trados means it is a very useful solution for translators experienced in using CAT software and who are looking to improve their efficiency, accuracy and consistency by using translation memory tools. It is not as easy to use as some newer products on the market and it also does not have such a comprehensive project management element to its product.
MemoQ is a much newer product in the industry, with the idea starting its development in 2004.
The ethos of MemoQ is one of collaboration. Originally, it was software created by translators for translators. This always benefits the development of a new product, as there is direct experience of the need and issues that are trying to be overcome before designing a solution.
In recent years, they have taken this ethos of collaboration one step further by offering a more wide-ranging service for all stakeholders involved in the translation process.
Now, MemoQ is not only a CAT tool, but also offers a variety of project management features to streamline and automate across the board. The elements include project templates for workflows, updates and amendments of files, and review and quality assurance options.
Reviews from users have been very positive. MemoQ has been identified as being quick and simple to use, with great integration between functions and flexible to address different clients’ requirements. Moreover, MemoQ has been found as having all the functions of other CAT tools, but in a more user-friendly program.
MemoQ is relatively new to the market, but already seems to be competing with the dominant suppliers in this market space. Its ability to identify the needs of the user, firstly the translator and now also language service providers and 3rd party companies, and develop aspects of the product accordingly, seems to be working in its favour. The easy-to-use software has received good reviews across its different aspects, so the future for it is promising.
Wordbee is another translation software solution that has built its business around identifying the issues or shortfalls of other providers and aiming to offer solutions based around this information.
Established in 2008, Wordbee is a web-based, collaborative tool for all stakeholders involved in the translation project that aims to make every step of the translation process easier. It offers more business and project management features for translation agencies or enterprises, looking for a complete translation project solution, without compromising on its components for translators looking for a quality CAT tool.
With its aim of reducing workload, Wordbee has considered every step of a translation project process and put in place tools to assist. These tools allow for automation in many areas, whilst also enabling the user to personalise the aspects they choose. Automation tools include initial review of the file to provide the client with costings, management of file upload and amendment, file updates to newer versions of the original document, workflow templates, deadline management, translation memory and client invoicing. The software provides a centralised environment, where all-involved parties can share files as required, updating documents and communicating with ease.
Still relatively new to the market, there are fewer user reviews available. Nonetheless, those shared are mostly positive. The software is identified as being easy to use and the matches easily differentiated. However, it has been commented that the quality assurance and spellcheck functions could be improved to make them more comprehensive and easily accessible.
Versatility of the software has been praised with different options for customisation and ability to handle different file formats.
The workflow options have been noted as being particularly valuable and a real USP for this product.
Users have further commented that Wordbee are frequently updating their software, with new useful options being added regularly.
Wordbee has the potential to compete in this market in the same way that Memoq is starting to do. It is offering an all-inclusive, easy-to-use software package that will be particularly attractive to companies with multilingual communication requirements and translation agencies, saving them time and budget by allowing them to do all their transactions in one place. As translators have begun to explore the product, some need for improvement has been identified. However, the way in which Wordbee is under continual development means that soon these potential issues are likely to be ironed out.
Mission Translate has only looked at two potential competitors to SDL Trados, but there are several other providers, each with differing elements to their product, who have also begun to make waves in this sector. These include Memsource (est.2010), WPML (est.2007) and OmegaT (est. 2000).
For decades there have only been a handful of strong providers of translation memory software, but over recent years new brands have identified a gap in the market and are now developing solutions that cater more widely to today’s market. Their flexible approach and dedication to working to the customers needs is likely to allow them to address any early issues in development quickly and therefore gives them the potential to overtake the market leaders in the future.
By Lorna Paice