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starting out as a freelancer advice on purchasing CAT tools
Thread poster: Susanne Toito

Susanne Toito
캐나다
Local time: 05:26
Member (2017)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
May 19

Hello there!
I am a newbie freelancer and am wondering about the purchase of CAT tools. There are some great deals being offered for both TRADOS and MemoQ right now and I am on the fence. I know that SDL Trados is the biggest name out there right now and would definitely be worth purchasing, but I also know that MemoQ is the new up and coming name.
So, I am asking advice:
Is it worth it to purchase both?
Do you find that one or any of your CAT tool purchases were not w
... See more
Hello there!
I am a newbie freelancer and am wondering about the purchase of CAT tools. There are some great deals being offered for both TRADOS and MemoQ right now and I am on the fence. I know that SDL Trados is the biggest name out there right now and would definitely be worth purchasing, but I also know that MemoQ is the new up and coming name.
So, I am asking advice:
Is it worth it to purchase both?
Do you find that one or any of your CAT tool purchases were not worth it for you and why?
Thanks in advance!
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Tom in London
영국
Local time: 10:26
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Never mind the names May 19

Susanne Toito wrote:

Hello there!
I am a newbie freelancer and am wondering about the purchase of CAT tools. There are some great deals being offered for both TRADOS and MemoQ right now and I am on the fence. I know that SDL Trados is the biggest name out there right now and would definitely be worth purchasing, but I also know that MemoQ is the new up and coming name.
So, I am asking advice:
Is it worth it to purchase both?
Do you find that one or any of your CAT tool purchases were not worth it for you and why?
Thanks in advance!



Don't be influenced by "big names" or "great deals"; before you spend money on something you may regret, try a few of them first and decide which ones you can actually work with and that will be useful to you. Currently I'm playing around with the trial version of CafeTran and I'm more impressed with it than others.

[Edited at 2020-05-19 16:31 GMT]


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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
캐나다
Local time: 05:26
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
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Depends May 19

It depends on your market. Many of my jobs are in the SDL Groupshare environment so it only makes sense for me. In all the years I have rarely been asked to do any work in other cat tools but again, that's only me. And the cost of software is a business expense for tax purposes so that helps as well.

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Susanne Toito
Aline Amorim
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
네델란드
Local time: 11:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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@Susanne May 19

Susanne Toito wrote:
I am a newbie freelancer...


So, spend the EUR 500 or EUR 1000 only when you have saved up that much money to spend, and do not spend it in anticipation of the benefits that you believe you will receive. OmegaT is free, and so is Wordfast Anywhere. And you can use Wordfast Pro 3 and 5 for document conversion without any time limit, which will open up many file formats for you, for free.

There are some great deals being offered for both TRADOS and MemoQ right now...


There are *very regularly* great deals on these programs. Don't buy just because you're afraid you'll miss the great deal.

I know that SDL Trados is the [most popular tool] ... I also know that MemoQ is [becoming more popular].


Certainly, if you want to splurge on a CAT tool, these two tools would be highest on your list.

Is it worth it to purchase both?


Yes, and don't forget Wordfast, so the big three will set you back about EUR 2000 in total. But only if you can spare the money. You're a "newbie freelancer", so don't do it. Use the free tools until you are financially more secure.


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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
독일
Local time: 11:26
Member (2016)
English to German
Your clients might dictate what you need May 19

For the freelance translator, the features of leading CAT tools are more or less equivalent. So it does not matter much which one you choose to get familiar with, but you should be prepared to switch to another one if projects or clients require it. There might be jobs where you can do the work only if you can work with a particular CAT tool (and then often agencies will offer a project based license you can use). Once you have a regular flow of projects, the cost of a CAT license should not mat... See more
For the freelance translator, the features of leading CAT tools are more or less equivalent. So it does not matter much which one you choose to get familiar with, but you should be prepared to switch to another one if projects or clients require it. There might be jobs where you can do the work only if you can work with a particular CAT tool (and then often agencies will offer a project based license you can use). Once you have a regular flow of projects, the cost of a CAT license should not matter much. Until then, it might be best to start with a low cost option. I use several CATs alternately and the only thing that bothers me are the different keyboard shortcuts for the same functions.Collapse


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alessandra bocco  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:26
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
I only bought Studio May 20

Most of my clients ask me to use Studio for their projects, and I bought it many years ago, when I started. Now some agencies ask me to use Across, MemSource or MemoQ, but they give me temporary licenses for all of their projects, so I never had to buy them.

Susanne Toito
Isabelle Pelchat
Katrin Braams
 

DZiW (X)
우크라이나
English to Russian
+ ...
Just a shining pile of... missell marketing May 20

What about asking a baker to use specific brands and ingredients from exotic countries only—at his expense? Or an occasional buyer demanding all the dough to be rolled at the full moon midnight only while dancing and singing Mambo-Jumbo—yet at the same price as common bread; no matter what?
How about a butcher requested to use original Solingen blades for the Maltese cross only and cut certified virgin animals only—at his expense? Offering discounts too?
May be a masseuse/haird
... See more
What about asking a baker to use specific brands and ingredients from exotic countries only—at his expense? Or an occasional buyer demanding all the dough to be rolled at the full moon midnight only while dancing and singing Mambo-Jumbo—yet at the same price as common bread; no matter what?
How about a butcher requested to use original Solingen blades for the Maltese cross only and cut certified virgin animals only—at his expense? Offering discounts too?
May be a masseuse/hairdresser would be happy to go to a specific expensive spa in a foreign country and deliver her services—for her own expense as well?
A weirdo hunter instructed to throw a dice before shooting the game at specific directions only?
A restricting for customers to enter the shop muzzled and on fours only? Irrelevant.

While it’s ok to ask for a tourist class Prius or a luxurious Rolls-Royce taxi, the price tag is reasonably different. Also sometimes it’s possible to select the color, the driver and even rearrange for a better spot, but it has nothing to do with the spanners’ or the underwear brands.

CATs are but instruments for techy/routine papers, so don’t let others impose and dictate you what and how to eat do your job better*—especially without a really good reason.

Why, I know several freelance translators using separate modern laptops/PCs for different overpriced and overbloated CATs. Nope, it’s not all business expenses for the amortization, maintenance, and renewals/updates: eventually one will pay much more. (Never be paid for translating anything similar in full again? Another lame excuse for fuzzy-fuzzy-fuzzy matches?)

Also I know a few guys who had licenses but preferred using pirated (cracked) software because it’s more stable whereas the paid support was inadequate. Luckily, soon they did realize they wasted and lost some 40% of the annual income, earning much less than a real job worker.

However, there were a few cases when PEMTors translators had to leave the biz because of the TM loss… They just couldn’t translate without a spoon a tool to afford ‘discounts’ and unfavorable terms—regularly paying for the tools and to spongy middlemen!


As some colleagues noted, a real decision-maker (businessman) should calmly weight interesting options (mind the NDA though) to make the right choice, yet remember it’s very you who delivers the service making good profits.
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Chris S
Myriam Moreno
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
핀란드
Local time: 12:26
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
SDL Trados May 20

Its like old time IBM. Nobody ever got fired because of choosing to buy IBM. I started out with Wordfast Classic and have tried also MemoQ and DV, but nowadays I use only SDL Trados.
In my first year (2003) as a freelance I got a phonecall from a prospective customer who asked if I had Trados. I had never heard of it and so he hung up. Thought me unprofessional, which was true.


 

MacLeod Cushing
캐나다
Local time: 02:26
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Trados generates work May 20

Susanne Toito wrote:

Hello there!
I am a newbie freelancer and am wondering about the purchase of CAT tools. There are some great deals being offered for both TRADOS and MemoQ right now and I am on the fence. I know that SDL Trados is the biggest name out there right now and would definitely be worth purchasing, but I also know that MemoQ is the new up and coming name.
So, I am asking advice:
Is it worth it to purchase both?
Do you find that one or any of your CAT tool purchases were not worth it for you and why?
Thanks in advance!


I bought Trados a few years ago because so many Fr>En jobs required it and I had plans to branch into that language pair. As it turned out, I made a lot of money in the past couple of years simply because I had Trados; many of the jobs I did in three different language pairs required it. The learning curve is somewhat steep but Trados has become much less "buggy" in recent years than in the past. There are many jobs posted that require it so it has the potential to pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time.


Katrin Braams
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IrinaN
미국
Local time: 04:26
English to Russian
+ ...
Check this out May 20

Google "MemSource pricing"

Team Start is offered for 27/month and a free 30-day trial. Seems like a very affordable option. I didn't look into all the details though, maybe there are some hidden charges, separate support or smth.

It is a very user-friendly CAT, easy to learn. Actually, it turned me into a CAT user after decades of fierce resistance caused primarily by several attempts to use Trados and WordFast:-).

It will make your transition to Trados mu
... See more
Google "MemSource pricing"

Team Start is offered for 27/month and a free 30-day trial. Seems like a very affordable option. I didn't look into all the details though, maybe there are some hidden charges, separate support or smth.

It is a very user-friendly CAT, easy to learn. Actually, it turned me into a CAT user after decades of fierce resistance caused primarily by several attempts to use Trados and WordFast:-).

It will make your transition to Trados much easier, if and when you'll feel like you can and need to switch to it due to its popularity among clients. Files can be mutually exportable between different CATs and you may come to an agreement with your clients later on to use what you have. You'll get a better feel of your market as you go, gain more experience and, hopefully, money, and then make a final decision.

Good luck!
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Susanne Toito
 

Katrin Braams  Identity Verified
독일
Local time: 11:26
Member (2018)
English to German
+ ...


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Trados May 21

If you plan to work for agency clients Trados should be your first choice, as among the jobs which prescribe the use of a certain CAT tool it is certainly the one most often called for. I don’t remember ever having seen a job posted which made the use of Cafetrans mandatory. If clients do require other tools, such as Memsource, MemoQ or XTM, they usually provide free licenses. But they never provide a free license for Trados.
Trados is somewhat difficult to learn, not really intuitive.
... See more
If you plan to work for agency clients Trados should be your first choice, as among the jobs which prescribe the use of a certain CAT tool it is certainly the one most often called for. I don’t remember ever having seen a job posted which made the use of Cafetrans mandatory. If clients do require other tools, such as Memsource, MemoQ or XTM, they usually provide free licenses. But they never provide a free license for Trados.
Trados is somewhat difficult to learn, not really intuitive. But once you have understood how it works the use of any other (client-imposed) CAT tool will not really be a challenge for you, as most other tools are easier to use or have similar features as Trados. If you succeed with Trados, you succeed everywhere!
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Susanne Toito
 

Hans Lenting  Identity Verified
네델란드
Member (2006)
German to Dutch
Open standards May 21

Katrin Braams wrote:

I don’t remember ever having seen a job posted which made the use of Cafetrans mandatory.


That's because it uses open standards: a generic XLIFF that can be read by all other CAT tools: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XLIFF

BTW: The name is CafeTran, without an 's': www.cafetran.com


[Edited at 2020-05-21 06:52 GMT]


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
  May 21

As a newbie translator, this is likely one of your first business decisions. Don't take it lightly. Sometimes, deciding not to make a purchase is just as important.

All these tools have free trials. The more you know about CAT tools, the more you will be able to make an informed decision for yourself.

Don't just go with the flow.

So I would first invest time, not money, to get acquainted with a few tools (or even cast a wide net first, limiting the number o
... See more
As a newbie translator, this is likely one of your first business decisions. Don't take it lightly. Sometimes, deciding not to make a purchase is just as important.

All these tools have free trials. The more you know about CAT tools, the more you will be able to make an informed decision for yourself.

Don't just go with the flow.

So I would first invest time, not money, to get acquainted with a few tools (or even cast a wide net first, limiting the number of candidates as you go), using the free trials and the available documentation. There are even free tools that can do the job.

Then, you will be able to decide on more solid grounds.

Just a few additional comments:

- Interoperability is a real thing. Screw vendor lock-ins!
- Don't just think initial cost, but total cost of ownership.
- As a translator, you need to invest in yourself. This is the wider perspective. A (paid) CAT tool can be seen as just part of this investment.

[Edited at 2020-05-21 07:39 GMT]
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Tom in London
Hans Lenting
Susanne Toito
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
네델란드
Local time: 11:26
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some more comments May 21

Katrin Braams wrote:
Trados should be your first choice, as among the jobs which prescribe the use of a certain CAT tool it is certainly the one most often called for.


It is true that clients sometimes require a specific tool for a job, but in my experience clients are just as likely to require Trados as they are likely to require MemoQ. By the way, 10 or 15 years ago, a lot more clients thought that all CAT tools are called "Trados" (in the same way that some people think that all e-mail programs are called "Outlook" or all PDF editors are called "Adobe"), and so a request for "Trados" was simply a request for fuzzy match discounts. These days, in my experience, when a client asks for "Trados", he really means Trados. Still, even if a client requests a tool that I don't have, I simply tell him which tools I *do* have, because agency clients are usually aware of how to make files from one tool work well enough in another tool.

If clients do require other tools, such as Memsource, MemoQ or XTM, they usually provide free licenses.


None of my clients who want me to use Memsource or XTM have ever required me to have my own Memsource or XTM license, in order to work on their jobs. With MemoQ, however, I only sometimes get a temporary license from the agency. So far, in the majority of cases where my clients absolutely required MemoQ, the agencies did not supply a temporary license. Some of them do, but in my experience most of them don't. Whether an agency is able to provide a temporary license for MemoQ also depends on the type of agreement that they themselves have with MemoQ.

If you succeed with Trados, you succeed everywhere!


I used to think that, and thought that my inability to get to grips with MemoQ was due to my own stupidity, but I recently dug into MemoQ more deeply and I discovered that the reason I could not figure it out was because it is actually very different from Trados, and the best way to learn MemoQ is to forget everything you've learn of Trados.

Hans Lenting wrote:
Katrin Braams wrote:
I don’t remember ever having seen a job posted which made the use of CafeTran mandatory.

That's because it uses open standards: a generic XLIFF that can be read by all other CAT tools.


The file format may be generic, but the workflow isn't. I suspect the reason why clients may demand e.g. Trados or MemoQ has to do with the fact that both those programs have predictable workflows, e.g. a translator role, a reviewer role, etc., and it makes the PM's life easier if all service providers can provide services that fit into that workflow.

This is why it often doesn't matter if you're actually using Trados or MemoQ, as long as it seamlessly appears to the client (or his tool) that you do. I'm not suggesting lying about it, but I think that often an e.g. "We require Trados" project is simply a "We require that your deliveries fit into our Trados workflow" project, and some (many?) agencies are willing to help you, if you are otherwise a desirable translator.

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:
- Interoperability is a real thing.


Yes, for the most basic tasks, there is often a way to make it work if you have e.g. Trados and the client has e.g. MemoQ. This does require computer skills on your part, and it requires a willingness on the client's part.

- Don't just think initial cost, but total cost of ownership.


For both Trados and MemoQ, if you bought it 10 years ago (Trados 2009, MemoQ 4.2) and never upgraded your version, you can still accept most Trados and MemoQ jobs even today, because their file formats did not really change. So, if you're skint or niggardly, your total cost of ownership could be just the initial price.

Continuing to work with 2010's MemoQ may be more challenging, because MemoQ is not file-based but database driven, but the exported XLIFF files should still work just fine. A Trados 2009 user should be able to handle almost all of the critical elements of a job that is meant for Trados 2019.

That said, some bugs only get fixed in newer versions that you have to pay for, so you should expect to buy upgrades as time goes by. Price-wise, the upgrade paths for both Trados and MemoQ work out to about the same in the end. Even if you choose to skip certain upgrades, i.e. if you upgrade less frequently than geek colleagues, you end up paying similar amounts anyway.

If you use Memsource's $27/month system or XTM Cloud's $42/month system, you'll exceed the cost of an initial Trados or MemoQ purchase after about 2 years, so in that sense Memsource or XTM Cloud is more expensive in the long run, if we don't consider upgrades.


Susanne Toito
Paola Ramirez
 

Tom in London
영국
Local time: 10:26
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Quality May 21

I do two kinds of work: (a) translations for which any CAT tool is useless and slows me down (b) translations where a CAT tool saves me a lot of time, because of many repetitions and the need to preserve formatting, e.g. an Excel or .ppt file.

But in my (long) experience, what my client (which could be an agency or a direct client) is really looking for is top-quality translation. They don't care what tools I use to produce it. Most of the time they never even ask.

[Edited at
... See more
I do two kinds of work: (a) translations for which any CAT tool is useless and slows me down (b) translations where a CAT tool saves me a lot of time, because of many repetitions and the need to preserve formatting, e.g. an Excel or .ppt file.

But in my (long) experience, what my client (which could be an agency or a direct client) is really looking for is top-quality translation. They don't care what tools I use to produce it. Most of the time they never even ask.

[Edited at 2020-05-21 10:32 GMT]
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Chris S
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