THE TOOL KIT THE BIG TENT SPECIAL

BY JOST ZETZSCHE

If you thought there wasn’t much activity in the Translation Environment Tool (TEnT) market, believe me, there is.

Here is a “rundown” of some of the smaller tools. Let’s start with the best-known and most commonly used tool. OmegaT is the flag-bearer and by far the most actively developed open-source TEnT for translators at this point.

Last time I wrote about OmegaT, it was still at version 1.6 or maybe 1.8; now it’s at 2.1.3 (Beta) and 2.0.5 as a stable build. Gone are the days when there were just a small handful of file formats that could be translated with this tool. It now supports the translation of Windows resource, text, HTML/XHTML, HTML Help, OpenDocument/OpenOffice.org, Java .properties, INI, PO, DocBook documentation, Microsoft OpenXML files (saved from Office 2007 documents), XLIFF, QuarkXPress CopyFlowGold, SRT subtitle, ResX, Android resource, and LaTeX files.

Furthermore, it now supports user-configurable keyboard shortcuts (very helpful to ease the transition from other tools), stemming in fuzzy and glossary matches through tokenizers, and the integration of Google Translate as well as other MT engines. And it has maintained its no-nonsense look and feel that is loved by some, though others say they miss the glory and shine they are used to from other TEnTs. I have personally not tested this latest version (though I downloaded and installed it today), but in many ways tools like OmegaT are one possible answer to the questions raised above about support or the lack of support of certain languages (or features). Here is your chance to very directly and actively participate in the development of one of the most beloved TEnTs for individual translators. The fact that OmegaT must be the most heavily localized TEnT with more than two dozen languages should be even more encouraging in that regard.

There are a number of reviews assembled on OmegaT’s website, including a 2010 thesis by Sébastien Guillardeau, who wrote in great detail about OmegaT (note that this thesis is in German).

Another open-source tool (also covered extensively in Sébastien’s thesis) is Anaphraseus, a tool that os unashamedly modeled after Wordfast Classic. However, unlike Wordfast, it does not run within MS Word but — fittingly — in the open source OpenOffice.org. It looked for a while as though development had slowed down, but there was a release last week (version 2.01) with an overhauled user interface, localization into 14 languages, and various bug fixes, including one on the processing of OmegaT files. When I tested this tool a couple of years ago my computer did not like it, but I am positive that those problems are fixed now. Before one uses this tool I would ask the same question as for any tool that performs all translations in one specific environment—here OpenOffice.org, meaning that all MS Office files have to be converted. Is it enough to have only those file formats supported that can be processed within that one environment?

Felix is another small tool, developed by Ryan Ginstrom, a Japanese-to-English translator with a knack for the technical and a passion to develop tools for translators. (On his personal website you can find a bunch of free translation-related utilities, including a word count tool and conversion tools for HTML and PowerPoint into Word and vice versa.)

He describes Felix (which is not free — it’s $350) as “above all (…) easy to use. Computer aided translation (CAT) has a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being hard to use and not very user friendly. The developer of Felix is a professional translator, and developed Felix out of frustration with existing tools. Every feature of Felix is designed with the translator in mind, in order to make using translation memory as simple and intuitive as possible.”

Felix interfaces with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel (it sits on top of the MS Office application windows and “calls” up individual strings) and, with the help of another utility, TagAssist, with HTML files.

I have not had time to test it. It looks interesting but is limited in its support of file formats. Ryan seems very eager to provide support and is actively involved in his small discussion group on Google Groups.

He also offers something else, though, which will be interesting to some: a very large (150,000+ translation units) TMX corpus of English <> Japanese data. This data is based on the Tanaka corpus and contains mostly textbook and everyday language, but I imagine that this would be helpful for machine translation developers, for instance.

I have mentioned CafeTran before, a no-nonsense, inexpensive Java-based tool (and therefore platform-independent) written by a Polish translator.

It supports text, XML, HTML, MS Office XML formats (MS Office 2003 and above files that are saved as XML), OpenOffice.org formats, and with the latest version TTX files, InDesign .inx, and AutoCAD .dxf (!) files). It also has little productivity features that are quite attractive:

  • it provides an easy integration of queries to Internet-based resources;
  • it allows you to use images as references when translating (either when you need to translate them or when you need to refer to them as a resource);
  • it has an auto-complete feature of already-typed text and matches and an auto-assemble feature;
  • it offers an extraction feature for frequent terms for glossary-building purposes;
  • it offers a remote memory connection; and like so many other TEnTs these days it also offers a link-in to Google Translate.

Not bad for $100. But then, OmegaT users would say, why pay anything? And that would also be true for the next tool:

EsperantiloTM. Here is what its developer says: “EsperantiloTM is a program for translators that facilitates the translation of documents by using translation memory. The program supports many formats such as HTML, OpenOffice, XML, and MS Word (partly) and can use exchange formats TMX and XLIFF. EsperantiloTM runs on Windows and Linux, is easily installable, and offers an easy and rich user interface. It is a free program with a GPL license.”

EsperantiloTM is a tool that is a split off from the for-Esperanto text editor Esperantilo. It comes with Esperanto dictionaries, Esperanto machine translation abilities, and Esperanto grammar checker, but as the developers say it is also “interesting for translators of any language pair.” It would be fun to look at this at some point as it’s a program that makes our large bouquet of TEnTs even more colorful. JZ

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