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Wordfast and Trados

Well, what is Trados? I already see those smiles on the old timers' faces. Yes, Trados is indeed the leading CAT tool on the market, and is certainly pretty good on that count. If you are a translator, even beginner, you will have noticed a lot of translation agencies around the world request Trados.

The first thing you should know about it is that you can work on most "Trados-Only projects" using Wordfast.

Unfortunately this fact remains little known to agencies.

If you hang around Wordfast's newsgroup (groups.yahoo.com/wordfast), you may be surprised to notice a considerable number of "wordfasters" actually own Trados... and work with Wordfast.

Before going any further, let clear a point: I have only a limited experience of Trados itself, and I'm not the perfect person to write that article. However, having worked on a number of Trados projects using Wordfast, I thought you might be interested to know how it is done, what are the limits, and what advantages you will gain using Wordfast. If you are yourself a Trados-learned wordfaster, you are very welcome to send me comments, notes, ... about this compatibility issue.


Okie, so it's time to describe a little bit Trados. Actually, although convenient, mentioning "Trados" is not quite accurate. "Trados" is composed of several different modules, many of which can - have to - be bought separately:

  • Trados WorkSpace

Trados WorkSpace is an integrated environment allowing you to start the different components of Trados suite and organizing projects, and files within projects.

  • Trados WorkBench -TWB

What most people call "Trados" is in fact TWB. It handles the translation memory, allows you to analyse your documents, segment them, and clean them. It works in conjunction with other Trados modules and most usually with Word. You have to install a Word template, TRADOS5.dot to work with Word.

  • Trados TagEditor

TagEditor is a special text editor used to work with tagged documents, such as html, xlm, and Ms Word, Excel and Powerpoint as well...It works along with TWB.

  • Trados MultiTerm

MultiTerm is Trados' terminology solution. It's kind of a dictionary where you can input a tem and its translation in several languages, along with definitions,... It is again a separate module but can be called from within Word using another Word template.

  • WinAlign

Alignment solution. Allows generating translation memories.

  • Filters

Filters are used to process various formats such as FrameMaker, QuarkXpress,... so that they can be translated in Word using TWB, and restaured back to the original format. This is THE strong point of Trados.

  • T-Windows

T-Windows are separate modules used to handle different formats, such as T-Windows for PowerPoint, T-Windows for Excel, T-Windows for Resources, T-Windows for Clipboard

Assuming you work with an agency, the workflow with Trados will look like that:

An agency creates a project in WorkSpace, possibly segments/pretranslate the files to be translated, adds relevant glossaries, and translation memory. If the project is originally in a DTP format, such as QuarkXpress files, the agency will usually prepare the files using the filters

You receive the project - or just the files - import it in WorkSpace, open your files in Word, activate Trados Template, open TWB, open the memory if you have one, create one if you don't, open MultiTerm if applicable -meaning, if you have a MultiTerm glossary - start a session and translate the damn thing. When the translation is over, you save the segmented files and turn them back in. (unless asked differently)

Your agency imports the files, and if you are lucky enough, you will cash your check on time. :-)

This simple routine will get you through in most cases. Okie. So that enough of an overview. Actually, I should charge Trados for it since you can't find anything that clear on their site. ] ;-p


With Wordfast

Now, as a translator, how would you work on that Trados project using Wordfast?

Simple. Start at step #2: You get the files, along with the memory and the glossary. (a Trados project is fundamentally a tree structure where you simply pick up the files to be translated,...) You open the files in Word, open the memory in Wordfast, open the MultiTerm files as glossaries and start translating as usual.

If your files were segmented by the agency, Wordfast will use those segments. If the document is not segmented, Wordfast will segment it in pretty much the same way as Trados does and unless you exactly know what to look for, it will be close to impossible to differentiate a document segmented with Trados from one segmented with Wordfast. Translate your files as usual using Wordfast, turn the segmented document in and go to step # 3, cashing your check.

There are small segmentation differences however. The main thing you need to remember is that Trados does NOT support empty segments while Wordfast may. So if at anytime you wish to leave an empty segment, type in 2 spaces. Trados should have no problem whatsoever to clean your files, update it's TM, integrate them in the project,... In fact, your client might never know you did not use Trados. I recommend you tell him anyway, for the sake of honesty, if nothing else.

Note: You can not read directly Trados 5.5 memories, as they are encrypted. (While Trados officially advertise "improved compatibility"). This however is not a big deal. Simply ask your client to provide you with a tmx memory. Takes should take him a couple minutes to do so. Note also that Wordfast can not produce a native Trados memory (tmw), but can produce a tmx that will import perfectly in Trados

That covers the largest volume of translations. Trados prepared files such as QuarkXpress tagged files, MIF tagged files,... are in "rtf" format and as such will be processed by Wordfast quite nicely using the above procedure.

This should be enough data for you to work on most Trados projects. If you want to explore deeper into the Dark side of the force - "if deeper explore the dark side you want,..." NEXT