For “Looking at CATs” we ask a professional translator with experience working with a specific computer-assisted translation tool to give us their perspective on the SDL Trados Studio features. What are its strengths and drawbacks, and why do they choose it over the other tools on the market?
Tobey Kim is a freelance Korean translator and localizer specializing in games, IT and web content. He began his career as a game designer, and has been translating since 2008. Tobey’s preferred CAT tool is SDL Trados Studio 2014. We asked him to tell us something about his experiences with the tool, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it helps him as a translator.
Why did you choose SDL Trados Studio 2014?
In fact, I started my career as a translator with Trados Studio, which means I had been trained to introduce this tool when I started to work for my first localization company, where I worked for about 2 years. So it is very natural for me to do my job using the tool. Of course, sometimes I do work without this tool or by using other tools, based on which system or tools my clients prefer, but I think this CAT tool is the best and generally helps me to perform well in my job in terms of productivity, efficiency and accuracy. That could be one of reasons why I chose this tool.
What are the 5 best SDL Trados Studio Features?
1. The best feature I think would be its translation memory system. Of course, most CAT tools today support this feature, and it might be impossible to find tools without a translation memory system, but Trados, in my opinion, makes the most stable memory system I have ever experienced.
2. It has good quality project management features. Since the progress of each task / project is shown visually, it allows you to manage your projects more efficiently.
3. It provides a very simple project creation mechanism. You do not need to always create a project first to prepare your translation job. If you have only one document to be localized then you simply open the document in the tool, and… Ta-da! You see a new project created nearly automatically. This really saves time and removes any effort which you might need to put in to prepare your task. Even though it has some inconveniences, such as not giving you separate source and target folders, it is still smart and could be one of the best features this tool has.
4. Even though many localization vendors have started to introduce online-based CAT tools or cheaper ones, Trados is still one of standard tools which localizers commonly use. So you may get more opportunities if you have this tool and have experienced in dealing with it.
5. Finally, quite a few translators around the world have been using Trados as one of their main CAT tools, and they make good communities on the Internet (eg. proz.com); which means there are a lot of tips, knowledge and help you can depend on whenever you get stuck.
What could be improved?
1) Consistency of the UI
I generally like everything that the tool offers, but it seems that there is room for improvement in its UI, especially the fact that it has a lack of consistency. For example, it provides two types of “file open” windows; one has the old style drop down, and the other one has the explorer style which allows you to type in a file path directly. Generally speaking, the latter is more convenient and gives faster access to desired folders and files, but I do not understand why they have not unified some UI cases like this. Trados 2014, the newest version of the tool, still has this problem.
2) Font style change
You might be accustomed to the way you simply toggle font style by using a specific combination of keys, for example, text can be bold or reverted whenever “Ctrl + B” is pressed. In Trados, however, with the key combination you only can bold text but are not allowed to revert it. To do it, you will need to use a different key combination or find the “clear formatting” feature. I do not see why they chose this kind of solution for changing font style with my lack of knowledge on computer programming, algorithms or whatever… but the obvious fact is this is an quite inconvenience and doesn’t meet the industrial standard or even the standard of what people are used to. I wish they would fix this in the next version of the tool.
Do you think the use of the tool improves your productivity/quality? Why or why not?
Yes, I think so. Of course, productivity and quality basically depend on your ability and experience as a translator; that’s quite obvious. However, nobody is perfect even if she/he is a very skilled and experienced individual. Nevertheless, you need to be nearly perfect as a professional translator in terms of some standards and expectations such as timely delivery and good quality translation. The pressure can lead to unintentional mistakes such as inconsistency, double spaces, etc. The use of the tool does minimize these potential mistakes, providing a well-organized process of translation and related tasks, and good features including translation memory system and management. So I think it could improve your general productivity and quality.