Software Localization


Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews


Short Reviews

Alchemy Software Development Limited was founded in Dublin, Ireland by the original developers and designers of Corel CATALYST™ in November 2000. The new company acquired Corel CATALYST™ originally owned by Corel Corporation Limited. In return, Corel keeps a 24.9% equity interest in the company.

Fig. 1: Translation of software dialogs from a resource code file (rc) using CATALYST's WYSIWYG editor.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


Alchemy CATALYST is an integrated translation environment with powerful project management features. CATALYST seamlessly integrates editors and tools for Translators, Localization Engineers, Quality Assurance (QA) Specialists, Project Managers and Software Developers. The software supports all Windows™ program ( DLL, EXE, INI), resource files (RC) and help files (RTF, CNT, CPP, HPP), as well as XML/XHTML based files and Internet applications.

  • CATALYST includes several visual editors which work in a WYSIWYG manner. Each visual editor can validate translations automatically. In addition, glossary support and spell checking are included in all editor environments.
  • QA of large localization projects is supported by a suite of tools ranging from layout, clipped text and duplicate hotkeys validation to the detection of missing parameters or controls and spell-checking. Another helpful tool is the Runtime Validation Expert, which detects errors introduced by dynamic dialogs and text substitutions as your translated software is running. This frees up your QA to focus on functional rather than cosmetic testing of your localized product.

Fig. 2: Color-Coded translation of the RTF-source of a Windows help file (ID, keywords and topic title in blue, links in green).
Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • Software Engineers can develop custom editors and validators using the CATALYST Software Development Kit (SDK). Any text file can be parsed and included into the Translation Environment by using CATALYST's Text Parser Expert. Support for JavaScript, CGI, Pearl, ASP and .NET is provided through Alchemy's source file editor. Furthermore, CATALYST's Visual Comparison Expert enables engineers to determine the differences between product revisions and their impact on QA and translation schedules.
  • Finally, CATALYST incorporates a number of essential project management tools ranging from basic word count reports to more complex update word counts. Such reports can be used to scope the cost, time and complexity of localization projects in order to priories resources. A memo function enables you to send messages to translators and track revisions and translation histories. CATALYST's internal TTKs (Translation Tool Kits) format can be exported into the industry standard translation memory interchange file format (TMX).

Fig. 3: Secure XML Editor in the Localizer Mode. Tags, code and scripts can be flagged as hidden or locked, thus avoiding accidental alterations.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • The recently published version 4 of Alchemy CATALYST incorporates several exciting new features:
    • Secure XML Environment: As the web technology moves more and more to XHTML and XML, CATALYST wisely included a strong support of those formats. Classical web pages are supported if they were developed in clean HTML 4 code. Three specialized editors controlled by powerful segmentation and parsing rules, allow professional translators and localizers to translate only elements requiring translation and avoid all formatting tags, code and script segments. In addition, tags, code and scripts can be flagged as hidden or locked, thus avoiding accidental alterations.
    • New XML/XHTML editors:
      • Translator Mode: This editor intelligently interprets the XML/XHTML file before presenting it to the translator. The underlying file format is always secure and the translator can view the file in a WYSIWYG viewer to see broader contextual information or can opt to translate the text segments in a spreadsheet type translation environment.
      • Localizer Mode: Post translation, the localizer will need to edit procedural and code segments using Alchemy's source file editor. Support for JavaScript, CGI, Pearl, ASP, .NET is provided.
      • Developer Mode: Using Alchemy's unique and pioneering hierarchical editor, the developer can customize the interpretation of each XML/XHTML file. Additionally, using the SDK, custom editors for XML/XHTML files can be developed. All editors are secure and guarantee that the integrity of the underlying file is maintained.

Fig. 4: Secure XML Editor - Advanced Parsing Rules. The advanced parsing rules allow the user to define how the document markup will be handled by the CATALYST XML editors.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


    • CATALYST Replica™ and ezMatch™ technologies close the gap between classic translation memory (TM) applications and localization (L10N) tools. Text segments are only translated once -followed by either automatic or interactive translation of recurring blocks throughout the entire project database (TTK). Translation units are displayed within the context of their occurrence or multiple occurrences. While most TM solutions simply find matches by searching on text, Alchemy ezMatch locates matches based on 'trait' information stored within the TM database. In addition, CATALYST 4 now directly supports terminology extraction and leverage to and from TRADOS workbench.
    • Catalyst ezScript™ Command Language enabling common tasks to be batched together and multi-lingual builds to be automated. This provides the ultimate in translation automation making simultaneous release of products or WEB sites attainable and reducing potential errors in the product build cycle.

Fig. 5: Alchemy Catalyst Replica™ technology. The Replica tab displays the repeating strings in all documents of a translation project providing the user with a choice between interactive and automatic replication.
Please click on the image for a closer look!


System Requirements:
Microsoft Windows 95, 98, (ME), NT 4.0, 2000; 16 MB of RAM; double speed CD-ROM drive; 256-color monitor; 486 DX2 PC or higher

Editions & Prices:

  • CATALYST QuickShip Environment: Includes almost all visual editors and interactive validators of the Translator Edition. The product can not be used to create and maintain own translation projects but is a nice gift to freelance translators working for companies which use CATALYST in their localization projects. Free of charge. Optional support available at € 16.72 ($14.99) per user. The CATALYST QuickShip Environment can be downloaded from Alchemy's website at www.alchemysoftware.ie/quickship/.
  • Translator Edition: Complete with a series of secure WYSIWYG editors that support all Microsoft Windows™ program, help file formats and XML based file formats. Includes the Validate and Comparison Experts (glossary lookup, spell checking, Validation etc.). The translator version does not allow for leveraging of previous translations. The leverage feature is only available in the Localizer and Developer/pro editions. 668.08 € ($ 599).
  • Localizer Edition: Same as Translator Edition with additional Leverage Expert which supports exact and fuzzy matching techniques and the Runtime Validation Expert which detects user interface problems while executing the product. 3902.52 € ($ 3499).
  • Developer/Pro Edition: Provides seamless integration into 3rd party development environments. Combines all features of the Localizer Edition but adds the Quickship Expert Technology, which allows translation projects to be deployed throughout the enterprise or between translation partners using the downloadable Alchemy Quickship Translation Environment. 6690.83 € ($ 5999).

Fig. 6: Alchemy CATALYST QuickShip (QS) Technology. Slideshow of the creation of a QS using the QS Expert of the Developer Edition, followed by a highly compressed shipping and automatic extraction of the QS using the free CATALYST QuickShip Environment.
Please use the arrow buttons to navigate and click on each image for a closer look!
Requires the Macromedia Flash Plugin!


Company Information: Alchemy Software Development Ltd.; Block 2, Harcourt Business Centre, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, Ireland; Phone: +353 (1) 7082800, Fax: +353 (1) 7082801; email: info@alchemysoftware.ie; URL: http://www.alchemysoftware.ie. Free demo download available.



Usage & Evaluation:

The user interface is well organized. The navigator and results windows can be separated from the main window or docked to them. A minor shortcoming is that even on a 17" monitor, either the fields for original and translated text or the WYSIWYG window can be displayed. Here it would be nice to be able to arrange the WYSIWYG window to the side of the main window.
File handling and translation is easy and comfortable for all supported file types. What's missing are only the extended options of translation memory applications such as proposed translations and their ratio of concordance with the original text.
Each translatable item can be accompanied by a variety of flags which visually display the status of the flagged item as frozen, priority, signed off, locked, for review, memo or exported.
Earlier prepared translations can be imported either from other CATALYST ttk files, extracted from previously created targets (EXE, RC etc.) or from other applications in form of tab-delimited text (glossary) or translation memory exchange files (tmx). Translations created by CATALYST can be exported to other applications as tab-delimited glossaries or translation memory exchange files (tmx format).

  • Alchemy CATALYST proofed to be a complete localization solution for all parts of a software package running on a Windows operation system. It comfortably handles applications in form of executables and link libraries (EXE, DLL and OCX) as well as resource script files (RC) in the most competent manner.
  • In addition, CATALYST is the only L10N application which handles Windows Help files (HLP) by providing a colour-encoded WYSIWYG-Editor for the translation of the decompiled RTF-source. However, this feature is not conveniently implemented nor sufficiently documented. Errors occurred in the segmentation of translation blocks used for jumps and keywords as well as text formatting. Even CATALYST's most loyal customers turn to classic TM applications for the localization of help files.
  • Within the specialized software localization tools on the market, Alchemy CATALYST is also the only application which translates XML/XHTML based files. In contrast to CATALYST's inconvenient abilities to handle the Windows Help file format, its XML/XHTML features proofed to be most impressive.
  • Unfortunately, even in the newest version (4.02), Alchemy CATALYST does not provide a big enough working space for the actual translation. The tiny window is docked in between the symbol bar and the resource table. The user can neither undo the docking nor resize the translation input window, which results in a lot of scrolling, when localizing longer strings.
  • Another drawback is that the only reasonable priced edition ($ 599): the translator version does not allow for leveraging of previous translations. The leverage feature is only available in the Localizer and Developer/Pro editions which go for approx. 3500 and 6000 US$, respectively.



  • Alchemy CATALYST is by far the most complete software localization tool within this review. It is the only specialized software localization tool on the market which comes close to the amount of features usually only seen in complex TM or computer assisted translation applications (CAT).
  • In face of the complexity of CATALYST, the developers should spend a little more time on the help file and other documentation material to make it easier to start working with this tool.
  • Last not least, Alchemy Software Development Ltd. follows a most welcome business strategy by providing freelance translators with its CATALYST QuickShip translation environment for FREE. However, if you want all features of this great software, it almost costs you 6000$ - quality sometimes has its price! .





© Dr. Thomas Wassmer, e-mail: tom at softreviews.org