The Tool Kit is an online newsletter that comes to its subscribers’ mailboxes twice a month. In Translorial, we offer a quarterly digest of Jost’s most helpful tips from the past season. BY JOST ZETZSCHE © 2009 INTERNATIONAL WRITERS’ GROUP, COMPILED BY YVES AVÉROUS


I recently analyzed my main computer to find out which tools I truly need, not necessarily the ones that are nice to have for those super-exotic projects that come in every other year, but the well-constructed screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches that, when combined, take us where we need to go.


For communication purposes, I use:

  • Skype as my instant messenger/telephony tool. A few weeks ago I was at a conference where one of the speakers complained about the technical ineptitude of translators, saying that, “While most have Skype, they don’t even use it to its full extent–they just use it as an instant messaging tool.” It’s true that there are many other ways that Skype can be used (it’s my favorite way to set up conference calls), but the fact is that it seems to have become the preferred IM tool in our community.
  • An FTP client: File transfer to or from an FTP server can be done with most browsers or FTP-replacement services such as, but I find it much easier to have all my addresses and passwords for FTP locations of my clients (and my own) stored in one location, which then gives me instantaneous access. The version that I use is WS_FTP Pro. Another good application is the open-source FileZilla.


My tools are used mostly for dealing with text-based files. They include:

  • EmEditor for its superior code page handling ability and UltraEdit for the rest. I am not even going to go into what they can or can’t do, only this: just about anything you can imagine.
  • I also like tools that both cut up large files and combine many text-based files into one. For the first task I use the awesomely named Chainsaw. (I would like this tool for its sound effect alone. Yes, it’s a howling chainsaw!). To combine files I use Twins File Merger. This tool does frustrate me because it “forgets” its registration code, but once I remind it, it does what it’s supposed to do: it glues many text/xml/html or other files into one, This is helpful when aligning a huge number of files, comparing files, or combining them for storage purposes.


With indexing tools now included right in the operating system, text-based search tools may not be quite as valuable as they once were, but I still wouldn’t want to skip tools like Search & Replace that allow you to search instantaneously through a large set of files.

A tool like IntelliWebSearch, to quickly search online and offline content, may not really belong in this category, but I don’t know where else to put it and definitely want to mention it, so here it is.


The text tools mentioned above are good for converting text-based files, but there are also other conversions that come up:

  • Measurements: I use the recently much discussed Convert.
  • PDFs: ABBYY PDF Transformer is still the best choice for converting PDFs into Word files.
  • File names: This is not really a conversion, but once you see how easy it is to change 1500 file names in one fell swoop, you’ll want a tool like 1-4a Rename.
  • Tools to convert translation file formats: The utilities that come with Heartsome and Swordfish are amazing resources to convert between TMX, TBX, and CSV, and their main translation editors are great ways to convert all kinds of files to XLIFF. Olifant is an excellent tool for converting between Trados and Wordfast TMs and TMX.
  • Tools to convert into translation file formats: This is mostly for file formats with hard-to-get-to text. ECM is the best.


Graphics are not my forte, but there is one graphics tool that I use day-in and day-out: SnagIt.


Apart from the Internet security suite, or the assembly of tools for all ugly matters dealing with viruses, spam, or spyware, here are some other security tools I use:

  • The Windows-internal System Restore has saved me many a time. It’s not perfect but it has served me well.
  • Password cracking tools: The tools from Elcomsoft usually help me out when I have to deal with password-protected .zip or .doc files.


For quoting or project evaluation:

  • A Web spider to download complete static websites: Teleport or HTTrack:
  • Word count tools: choose one that is able to count a wide variety of file formats.
  • Graphic browsers like XnView give you a quick overview of all graphics in a project so you can single out those that need to be translated.

This  is not an expensive tool combo but it will serve you well! JZ