Like many language service providers, The Translation Service uses various computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools like SDL Studio and Wordfast. While their usefulness is rather limited for a large portion of the work we do (think uneditable scanned copies of handwritten documents), they do prove very useful for large translation projects that involve Word documents, PDFs generated from Word files or publications created in InDesign.

As a matter of fact, they allow us to leverage on existing translations using translation memories, improve terminology and phraseology consistency, enhance quality control, and speed up the layout and design of translated publications. The downside is that they tend to be expensive to buy, which means that most of you don’t have your own copy of SDL Studio. Up until now, we’ve been working around the issue by sending out translations in table format, and importing the translations or revisions into SDL Studio ourselves. This time-consuming process has its own risks as we can easily miss out something and create havoc.

Thankfully nothing of the sort has happened so far, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try and find a better solution. It would be unreasonable for us to request all of you to buy SDL Studio or subscribe to its one-year, feature limited Starter edition, especially for those of you who are not full-time professional translators. Rather, we’re considering moving the whole process into the cloud – welcome into the 21st century – and give you access to a free web-based translation tool. The platforms we’ve been investigating include Memsource, Wordbee, XTM, Lingotek and Smartling. While Proz has a dedicated page to CAT tools with a number of useful reviews, we’d like to hear from you. Do any of you have experience in using any of those tools?