Due to the rise in global trade and the increasing need for multilingual content, the demand for translation services has increased exponentially in recent years. The need for translation is not limited to the business world. Translation services are increasingly becoming an integral part of human life. The availability of multilingual content options has become a part of websites, blog posts, social media, online videos, and other media.
This growing demand for translation has led to the creation of more flexible workflows and tools capable of handling multiple languages with ease. Machine translation programs use algorithms to compare two different languages and then produce a word-by-word or even phrase-by-phrase translation for a given sentence. The more of a sentence a computer program analyzes, the better its chance of translating it correctly. CAT tools, on the other hand, assist human translators in getting their job done faster and more accurately.
❓ What is a CAT tool anyway?
CAT tool, or computer-assisted translation tool, is essential productivity-boosting software that offers various advantages to translators over the traditional manual translation. Translators can use CAT tools to save time on repetitive tasks within a project, such as searching for keywords in a language pair or translating similar text strings into another language.
CAT tools are packages that help translators with the translation process. They can reduce the amount of time it takes to translate a document by simultaneously working on text segments, reducing redundancies, and identifying context. These tools allow for a more accessible, more collaborative work environment that can save hours, if not days, in translation time.
What are some key features that CAT tools can provide?
- Translation Memory
- Technical validation
- Built-in Machine Translation
- Glossary management
- Tonality management
Nowadays, most CAT tools are cloud-based, but we can't neglect desktop CAT tools. Desktop CAT tools are installed locally on your computer and generally can be used whenever and wherever you want, regardless of internet availability.
🖥️ Desktop CAT tools
Although developers and many translators favor cloud-based CAT tools because of certain evident advantages, you should still know about some of the options available for desktop if that can help your project.
Many people in the translation industry use Trados software to increase productivity by translating multiple languages at once. It is widely used by freelancers, translators, and localization professionals, mainly in the corporate sphere. The program also has many capabilities beyond translation, such as glossaries, dictionaries, terminology management tools, and project management tools.
OmegaT is an entirely free CAT tool for desktop computers (Windows, macOS, Linux) that translators can use to translate texts into other languages. It provides general translation functionality, supports about 30 file formats, and comes with a user glossary functionality. Machine Translations and sharing of translation memories are not available, so you are on your own as a translator.
Poedit is a convenient desktop application available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It carries a traditional yet user-friendly interface that helps you to start translating immediately and quickly. It is also among the most popular translation tools for WordPress translation.
Because it is a desktop app, it can be functional even when you are offline. Poedit also offers a Pro version with upgraded features such as pre-translate, community translations, and statistics. The downside is that Poedit supports only a few file formats, doesn't account for plurals, and limits the number of words you can translate with its Free plan.
Poedit also offers a company license for teams that enables you to collaborate on projects with other translators and sync your work to the cloud, similar to the browser-based solutions do. Still, the pricing per seat model of Poedit is the most prevalent reason for switching to other solutions such as Localazy.
☁️ Cloud-Based CAT tools
Traditionally, assistive technology was only available to large companies that invested heavily in the infrastructure and platforms needed for integration. New cloud-based options have emerged, including some free options, which have made this technology more accessible to the average translator.
Cloud-based CAT tools offer companies and individuals the same benefits as traditional CAT tools, but now those benefits are no longer confined to a company's office and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. With this flexibility and accessibility, you can now enjoy the time and cost savings of using cloud-based CAT tools.
You can access cloud-based CAT tools via any internet browser, so you can work from anywhere and live your dream as a digital nomad or stay at home forever if you don't feel like traveling. 😅
OneSkyApp is a translation management system for mobile applications, websites, and games. The localization, marketing, and engineering groups can collaborate on translations using the OneSky platform. This translation management system also provides a broad range of features that should boost the quality of translation, such as Glossary and Translation Memory.
Thousands of companies have utilized OneSky to broaden their worldwide presence, but the interface is outdated and cumbersome, and the performance is reportedly slow. Users who switched to Localazy are happy to see it's a modern platform with a clean and fast-responding UI.
Phrase (formerly known as PhraseApp) is a relatively well-known translation management system for software localization tasks. It encourages collaboration among teams and promises to save time spent on engineering and translation. Phrase can also be considered a CAT tool, with its built-in translation memory and quality checks such as broken placeholders or mistranslated terms. As a translator, you might also appreciate their auto-complete function.
It's aimed mainly at teams, so if you are translating independently, Phrase might feel overly complex. The pricing per seat is also one of the factors mentioned by users switching to Localazy.
Lokalise is an application for localization and translation tasks specially designed for project managers who love being in control of the work that should be done. Lokalise's translation UI is intuitive but might start to feel cluttered after a while.
To start, upload/connect any iOS, Android, or other supported files to Lokalise's system. You might like their built-in spelling and grammar checks and automated QA checks. It also comes with machine translation suggestions so that you can produce translations more quickly. And in case you need some help with finishing the project, it gives you the option to ask for the assistance of professional translators.
Lokalise is, however, one of the more expensive solutions on the market. So as a starting freelancer, you should probably look elsewhere because Lokalise is more suited for corporate teams who can afford to burn the money.
Smartcat is a platform with many features gathered in one place. It helps translators connect with business opportunities by joining the network of translation experts.
As a freelance translator, you can join the biggest marketplace for translation jobs, use Smartcat as a free computer-aided translation tool to increase your productivity, and receive payments from anywhere. Smartcat is based on the concept of today's technology that lets a large number of people work in a collaborative environment without worrying about the big picture. It also assists with automation, quality assurance checks, data inspection, etc.
According to public reviews, Smartcat is robust but might feel overwhelming. Another thing to mention is that their machine translation and OCR are usage-based paid services and the support queries take quite some time to get answered.
Smartling is a platform meant for providing translation management and language services. Smartling is the platform chosen by hundreds of B2B and B2C brands that include big names in the tech industry, such as Shopify, Slack, and SurveyMonkey. Smartling can be considered a good option for Medium and Large Sized companies looking to translate their content.
As an individual, the barrier of entry is quite high. There is no easy signup, and their pricing starts at $200/month. They do not even have a free version and do not offer a free trial. Another thing mentioned in reviews is that translators actually don't like it as much as the customers who source their translations there, but maybe you will like it!
Weblate is a suite of tools for professional translators and software developers. It's especially popular among the open-source community. The Weblate CAT tool is a collaborative, web-based tool for translation memory editing and glossary management. It also supports uploading screenshots for a better context.
It is reportedly designed to be lightweight, easy to use, and tailored to the needs of translators who work with glossaries in the fields of software localization. However, users who made the switch to Localazy actually think the UI of Weblate is awful. We won't judge, maybe you will be a fan? You can try it for free and see it for yourself!
Transifex is another well-known platform that assists companies in entering foreign markets via localization of their digital products and content, such as websites, mobile apps, games, videos, help center articles, subtitles, and many more on a nonstop flow. Top companies that include Atlassian, Eventbrite, Salesforce, HubSpot, Waze, and Microsoft depend on Transifex to maintain their multilingual, international presence.
Transifex helps translators with built-in translation validation, glossary, and visual context cues. You can also set up machine translations with your own API key.
Compared to Transifex, getting started with Localazy is reportedly more accessible and affordable. The Basic tier of Transifex begins at $70 per month, and it doesn't even unlock some essential features mentioned above, such as a Glossary and Visual Context.
❤️ Editor's pick
Now that we listed some of the alternatives you could try. We would like you to keep reading to find out why we believe Localazy is the best-balanced CAT tool on the market.
If you don't want to take my word for it, read the article by Michał Tosza, who is a professional translator and linguist himself and wrote his great Intro to Localazy from a translator's perspective. And since Michał wrote the article, Localazy has improved even more.
Localazy has also won awards from Crozdesk, SourceForge, and more:
- 🎖️ Happiest Users and Quality Choice Award from Crozdesk
- 🏆 2021 Top Performer Award from SourceForge
- ⭐ 5-star reviews on Trustpilot, G2 and Capterra
Localazy is cherished for its clean and intuitive interface. 📄 Having a cluttered interface made of never-ending columns and rows of data is what translators have struggled with for years when working with spreadsheets and many tools on the market still follow the spreadsheet layout.
"Localazy sets the entry threshold on a very low level and is friendly for newcomers, which is quite unusual for any CAT tool."
Localazy comes with several features that boost the translator's productivity and make translations way easier.
⌨️ Translation validation
Localazy keeps you in check. When you get into the flow, you might easily overlook some peculiarities such as the limit of characters, number of trailing spaces, unclosed tags, or missing placeholders.
📒 Free glossary of terms
When you set up a new project, you can create your own glossary without any limitations. When you get invited to a project, ask the maintainers to add some project-specific terms into the glossary. It will help you tremendously!
👨💻 Free machine translation suggestions
The second-best thing about Localazy is that it comes with built-in machine translation suggestions. Boost your productivity as a translator with the Amazon machine translation engine. If the organization you are translating for is on the Autopilot plan, all translators can use three additional MT engines for suggestions: DeepL, Google Translate, and Azure Translate from Microsoft.
🗂️ Translation Memory
As a bonus, Localazy also has its own automatic translation memory. It all works automatically in the background and finds matches not only across the project you are currently working on (Learn more about Localazy InTM) but also across Connected Projects and all of the other projects on the platform that opt-in for community translations via ShareTM! You don't need to set up anything.
👑 Context is king
All the things you need to get into the context are readily available on the translation screen. You can ask the project owners for context in the comments, browse and request screenshots, see translations in other languages, notes for translators, and previous versions of the translation you are working on.
▶️ Ready to get started?
- Sign up for Localazy now and try it for free.
- Read the Getting Started Guide.
- Read How translating strings in Localazy works in more detail.
- Read more articles by Michał Tosza
It is easy to find translation tools available online, but many are expensive to use as a freelance translator. I hope this article helped you gain a basic overview of the most popular tools that you could encounter in your career.
If you decide to go with Localazy, feel free to contact us with your feedback about the translation interface or workflows, we are always happy to listen to our users!