Computer Assisted Translation – CAT Tools

What are CAT Tools?

The short stands for Computer Assisted Translation (sometimes Computer Aided Translation) and refers to a method of language translation in which a human translator uses computer software in order to achieve better translation results. That said, it’s true only when these tools are used correctly and the whole project is managed properly!

A CAT Tool usually allows creation and management of a translation memory for each language combination and a possibility to translate more difficult file formats than just plain texts and Word documents. Among these advanced formats are for example DTP formats (Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress etc.), binary/resource files or various XML based texts. The translation memory allows storing the text for future use which improves translation consistency and reduces costs.

Depending on the source text type, using CAT tools for translation may save around 30% of translation/proofreading costs while keeping certain level of quality, if used properly.

Among other things, a CAT Tool may include other components such as terminology management, quality assurance, spell or grammar checkers or complete localization project management.

List of Common CAT Tools

There are many CAT tools out there. Here is a small example of the probably most common ones:

  • SDL Trados
  • WordFast
  • Transit NXT
  • Atril Déjà Vu
  • Idiom WorldServer

My Experience with CAT Tools

Over the time, I had a chance to work or experience all of the beforementioned CAT Tools plus some others – either as a translator or a project manager, or actually both. Nowadays I mostly work in SDL Trados or Idiom WorldServer Desktop Workbench. Depending on the job, I can accommodate to any other new CAT software assuming I have enough time to gain at least a little experience with it.