Free, open source translation tools are very useful, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on software. And, it’s not like you have to buy a CAT tool in order to translate.
OmegaT took me a long way, and I still love it, mostly because it’s open source. I’m running Linux Mint 17 on my main desktop computer, which is the leading open source distribution today, so running OmegaT on top of that is a natural choice, because it’s also open source.
I did run into some problems with OmegaT when I wanted to scale up my translation business, which is something I focus on everyday: Translate more words, improve the quality of my translations and make more money.
As a small player on the translation market there are many things that I can’t control, for example what software the big players use. One way of scaling up the amount of words I handle each day, is to work together with the big players.
And when several large translation agencies wanted me to work on translation jobs in a specific file format, but I had to keep declining because my tools didn’t support it, I started to pay attention. It became a question of when I could support it, instead of if I wanted to support it.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love open source. It’s just such an awesome idea, and for something not related to translation, you should definitely check out, what Kodi can do for your experience of online entertainment.
OmegaT and the free version of memoQ could probably be used for building a perfect freelance translators career, if you pick the right clients. I can’t imagine you would face any of the challenges I’m talking about, if you’re translating fiction for example.
The problem I had with OmegaT was, that it didn’t have good enough support for all the industry standard file formats, at least not in a way, which I could solve. In principle, everything is possible, if you have enough time and money, and the people who are developing OmegaT seem to be very nice and helpful, but again, I also want to make money here, so I’m depending on the ability to plug in and get going.
I’m sure every open source program will eventually feature every function people want. Just look at how much pressure Linux has put on Windows.
On the other hand, memoQ actually supports nearly all the industry standard file formats, if not all, but again, it’s commercial and the free version will only take you that long. The free version of memoQ gives you a helluva good taste of what the full version is capable of.
I did a couple of jobs in the free version of memoQ, but the lack of support for XLIFF and SDL Trados Studio files became a very limiting factor for me, when I wanted to scale up my freelance translation business. But hey, that’s okay, the awesome developers need to get paid too.
Translating a couple of Word documents here and there was okay for me to do in OmegaT or the free version of memoQ, but taking on jobs from the bigger boys required plugging into existing standard systems. Actually, as far as I know there are no limits on the size of the documents when using these two programs, so with OmegaT it’s more like a compatibility issue.
Translation memories and termbases
When using the free version of memoQ I found that I wasn’t allowed to use more than one translation memory (TM) and one termbase (TB) for each project, which is a limiting factor when you’re supposed to plug in and continue the work that is already in the system of a large established agency. If I create a new TM for a new job, I can’t load an existing TM from the client, and use them at the same time, and the same goes for termbases.
There are of course ways to work around these things, but your energy could be focused on translating more words instead, and thereby making more money. That’s why I would recommend you get the memoQ full version if or when you can afford it, but also because it’s a freaking cool program 😉