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Compatibility issues between Wordfast and Trados

Where are the limits? What can and what can't be done in respect to this compatibility issue? Are there workarounds or is the issue a big No-No? This is not an comprehensive list as yet, and you are very welcome to send me comments and notes about it. I expect this page to be growing over time. Anyway. Here we go:

  • TM issues

As mentioned in the previous page, you can not open TWB 5.5 memories in Wordfast. The only workaround for that is to get someone to convert the memory in either "tmx" or "txt" format. That someone will usually be your client, but any Trados 5.5 user would do,...and there are plenty of them on forums that won't mind helping you out, possibly for a symbolic fee. The second TM restriction is that you can not produce "tmw" memory*. This is not a problem, because your client doesn't need it really - if you provide segmented files, Trados will update/create the tmw memory, and that's the end of it. You can also send a tmx memory, and Trados will import it without as much as a complaint.

  • TagEditor

TagEditor is a separate editor and you can not use Wordfast to work with it directly. Beside, I guess you do not have TagEditor, so that's that.

However, in my experience, the vast majority of Trados projects do not require it, and on a technical viewpoint, if you can tag your files (or get them tagged), you can still translate in Word and provide your client with a translated file and a TM. That TM will be usable as usual and heck, the translation is what the client needs.

  • Filters

Filters are the strong point of Trados. It can handle a hell of a lot of formats, from the well-known DTP to more obscure formats. Wordfast - +Tools actually - is catching up on that bit by bit and is now providing some beta support for "*.mif" (FrameMaker), PDF, HTML, XML, ...

Refer yourselves to +Tools manual for a current list. +Tools is evolving pretty fast, and by the time you read those lines, I might have to remove the word "beta". However, for now, just ask your client to process the files for you (They anyway do it most of the time) and translate paying respect to the tags. (At least bow a couple times and make sure you don't have your shoes on when translating a tagged file.)

  • Word count

Word count differs between Word, Wordfast and Trados. In my experience, Wordfast wordcount is usually about 5% up compared Trados's wordcount, which is itself about 10% up from MS Word. (It varies, of course) This reflects itself in the number of words contained in the fuzzy matches, full matches and so on.

Most usually, your client will provide you a word count with his PO. I suggest you stick to it unless there are very notable differences between both word counts, in which case you should investigate the matter.

(i.e.: I once had a document meant to be mostly 100% matches, and Wordfast could not find them. After sorting the matter out, it came up the client did not provide the right memory!)

Differences come from the fact that the algorithm to count words is different. For instance, this:


is 1 word in Ms Word, because Word is not programmed to separate the words. However, for the translator viewpoint, we have 4 words...and a typo. Wordfast will rightly count it as 4 words. It takes the same amount of effort then it takes to translate:

tug of war. Newspaper

  • Further issues

I will expand those issues further when I get the chance to experiment with T-Windows (I don't know much about that) and see what kind of compatibility there is. Wordfast handles PowerPoint, Excel and Access right from Word. :), and you can provide your client with translated files and a TM, but I'm not sure on the way T-Windows handle the matter, so there might be restrictions there.

UPDATE: T-Windows for PowerPoint simply translate and create a memory, so you can work with Wordfast. No problem.

All right, there you have it. I may add more to that tutorial based on your feedback and questions, or Wordfast evolution, but this should be able to get you on the track and rolling. Good luck. ;-)