Software Localization


Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews


Short Reviews

Déjà Vu was initially developed in 1993 to fulfill ATRIL's own need for a professional translation tool. In its preliminary state in June 1993 it was the first translation tool for Windows 3.1 and provided the first interface for Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0 defining Déjà Vu as the most advanced translation tool of its time. In 1994, Déjà Vu version 1.1 already offered an integrated alignment tool when such tools were usually sold as expensive individual products. After careful consideration, Déjà Vu dropped its interface with MS Word entirely as it became apparent that working with the Word interface imposed too many limitations. ATRIL began to develop its own integrated environment. In 1997, Déjà Vu was the first Translation Memory (TM) tool available for 32-bit Windows. It provided its own single translation grid editor and shipped with an extensive number of filters for DTP packages, including FrameMaker, Interleaf and QuarkXPress.
Déjà Vu is currently one of the most popular CAT tools on the market with thousands of users around the world (mainly in Western Europe and the US). Traditionally most prevalent within freelance translators, Déjà Vu is now a common tool in all segments of the translation business (freelance translators as well as translation companies, translation final clients and educational centers). Renowned international companies and organizations such as Caterpillar, IBM, Siemens, Adobe, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Canadian Parliament use Déjà Vu to translate a wide variety of documents.

Fig. 1: Translation of a Help RTF File using Déjà Vu's Grid Editor here in Auto Search mode with docked Terminology (right) and Translation Memory (bottom).

Please click on the image for a closer look!

Déjà Vu consists of an universal editor, a memory database manager including an alignment module, and a terminology database manager supported by TermWatch, a terminology watch guard residing in the system bar, available to all Windows applications. Déjà Vu's uniform grid-based interface displays only translatable text, allowing you to work comfortably without having to worry about formatting and layout information, and without the need to learn different DTP and software development tools.

  • The program you use to create, manage and translate projects is called Déjà Vu Interactive (DVI). It is an integrated environment, offering many features of a word processor, including search and replace and spell checking. Déjà Vu includes filters to build and handle projects consisting of MS Word, RTF, Help Contents, PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress, Interleaf, Java Properties files, HTML (including ASP and embedded JavaScript and VBScript code), HTML Help, SGML and XML, RC, C/C++/Java, IBM TM, Trados WorkBench, and plain text files (Fig. 1). All file types are handled by the same universal editor interface. Color codes help the user to identify the status of each target cell. Translations can be done in several modes. If you already built a TM for your project, the first translation mode is "pretranslate" which uses the translations that you have previously stored in Déjà Vu’s TM. This will result in taking over the most similar sentence (exact or best fuzzy match). "Scanning" identifies TM matches for single sentences or fragments. If this does not result in a match, you can ask DVI to "assemble" a translation from smaller pieces. The "learn" mode scans your previous translations on how you have translated a particular word before.

    Fig. 2: Déjà Vu - Word and Character Count
    Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • Besides translating, DVI provides extensive project management features to handle even large multi file and multilingual translation projects. Advanced features include sentence locking, project lexicons and configurable project security as well as the creation and inclusion of satellite projects for and from external translators. Finally, powerful statistics options (Fig. 2) allow you to quickly produce quotes for your customers, evaluate the progress of a translation, and accurately bill your customers.

  • Déjà Vu's Database Maintenance Module includes all the tools required for maintaining memory databases (TMs). Besides filling the database by manual translation, it is also possible to import external databases in a variety of formats such as MS Excel, MS Access, ANSI or OEM text, older versions of Corel Catalyst, IBM and TRADOS TMs and TMX and by aligning separate source and target file pairs in all supported formats (Fig. 3). A Déjà Vu memory database is a MS Access database that contains pairs of sentences (source and target) and tagged information on subject, client and date/time stamps. Memory databases can be exported to all but one (IBM TM) of the formats supported by the import function. The Database Maintenance module also offers tools for compacting and repairing memory databases, and for running SQL queries and commands that will help you in maintaining your data.

  • Fig. 3: Alignment of source and target of a HTML File using Déjà Vu

    Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • The third major component of Déjà Vu is a full-featured Terminology Maintenance module. Déjà Vu's terminology databases can be used either as an integrated part of the translation environment or as a standalone tool. A Déjà Vu terminology database is strictly bilingual and contains pairs of terms (source and target words and short phrases). Each pair can be associated with grammatical information, definitions and information on subject, client and creation date and time (Fig. 4). You will need at least one terminology database for each language pair and translation direction. A terminology database either receives term pairs when you are translate a project using DVI or by importing external databases (MS Excel, MS Access, ASCII Text, older versions of Corel Catalyst and IBM TM dictionaries). Besides the IBM TM format, export of dictionaries is possible for the same formats. Unfortunately, neither TRADOS, MultiTerm nor STAR TermStar dictionaries are accepted.
    In addition, the Terminology Maintenance offers tools for compacting and repairing terminology databases, and for running SQL queries and commands. Your terminology databases are accessible from almost any Windows application by a terminology watch guard residing in the system tray called TermWatch. You can define system-wide key combinations that can control the look up of the selected word in the terminology database and either
    • insert the target term into the calling application, replacing the selected text, or
    • copy the target term to the clipboard, or
    • present all matches in a table (as for lookups started from DVI)

    In addition, all terminology maintenance functions including import/export facilities are also accessible through TermWatch.

Fig. 4: Terminology Management Module of Déjà Vu

Please click on the image for a closer look!


  • Déjà Vu's last component is the SGML Filter Maintenance module. This tool allows you to define filters for tagged files following the SGML (Standardized General Markup Language) standard. Unlike other file formats (e.g. MS Word and Text), SGML is not a genuine file format but a standard for tagging text files, and for defining those tags. Since a variety of different sets of tags are possible, a SGML filter must be created for each kind. This is done with the help of the SGML Filter Maintenance tool. SGML defines a standard for creating DTDs (Document Type Definition) like for example the various specifications of HTML by the W3C (e.g. http://www.w3.org/TR/html/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd). As an example, a filter for the structure and tags in HTML is provided. To help you in the process of defining an SGML filter, the SGML Filter Maintenance tool can read the files you have to translate, and extract the set of tags and keys, as well as examples of their use.

Fig. 5: Translation of SGML-based file formats is supported by custom-made Filters
Please click on the image for a closer look!


Editions & Prices:

  • Déjà Vu, dongle-protected, with alignment utility, TermWatch and support for SGML, XML, Microsoft Word (including Word 2000 and XP), Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, RTF (including Windows Help), Help Contents, Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe PageMaker, Interleaf, QuarkXPress, HTML (including Access databases, ASP and embedded JavaScript and VBScript code), HTML Help, RC, C/C++/Java source files, Java Properties files, Trados Workbench and IBM TM2 untranslated segments. 990 €.
  • The demo version is a full-functional, non-expiring satellite version which allows freelancers to work on corporate projects. It doesn't allow access to MDBs or TDBs, and it doesn't propagate.

    Discounts for multiple licenses and universities. Please write to sales@atril.com for details!


Usage & Evaluation:

Déjà Vu is another old timer in the TM market. It is therefore not astonishing to find it filled with functions requested by generations of translators. I had initially a problem to get Déjà Vu properly working on my system as some system files from a previous installation were still lingering on my PC. Support was first clueless until I also faced a problem in HTML translation. The recommended cure also fixed problems with imported TMs and dictionaries. Déjà Vu projects can contain an unlimited number of target languages but each TM and Dictionary is strictly bilingual and unidirectional. Bilingual TRADOS MultiTerm dictionaries can be imported as plain text. Terminology and TM databases can be managed by powerful queries and commands in standard SQL. Projects can contain only files of the same filter type. Search and Replace functions are pretty fast even if many hundreds of files are included into a project. Creation of a new TM is very easy due to powerful importing and alignment functions. In alignment projects, files are saved - not just linked. On the one side, this increases file size - on the other it saves work from being lost if aligned source files are moved.
As in the case of Transit and the Trans Suite 2000, Déjà Vu is completely independent from any word processor. Its plain, grid-based editor serves all supported file types. Déjà Vu saves embedded code from accidental alterations and enables you to concentrate on the translation. Unfortunately, not all HTML tags are visually shown and they can not be selected as it is the case for RC files. As the Trans Suite 2000, this did not work in all cases. Again it was the <img scr=> tag which was editable. XML is supported via SGML. As many other tools, Déjà Vu does use an existing DTD but requires a somewhat cumbersome filter creation.
A nice extra is Déjà Vu's TermWatch terminology system which is accessible from any Windows application, not just from within Déjà Vu.

A major disadvantage of Déjà Vu is that single translations and other editing steps can not be easily undone. There is no explicit undo function and Windows Ctr-Z also does not work. It is therefore crucial to save projects from time to time using a different name.

Direct continuous and enthusiastic development of the software taking very much into account what the users ask for and suggest. Déjà Vu has an amazing customer support. On weekends, the boss himself answers questions - sometimes in real time. All licenses include free live-time support. It is one of Déjà Vu's strengths to keep very close to its users - it is this interaction which makes Déjà Vu one of the most powerful TM tools available. Historically Déjà Vu aimed mainly on freelancers but went more and more corporate and does not miss powerful project management or QA features anymore.
Déjà Vu's easy licensing structure has its pros and cons: While the principle "one product does it all" serves well for users in need of a great variety of filters - this is too inflexible and too expensive for others who might only need filters for a few file types.


System Requirements:
Déjà Vu runs under Windows 95/98/NT4/2000 and XP. For optimum performance, a Pentium II processor with 64Mb of RAM is recommended.

Company Information:
ATRIL Operations Office; Rambla Catalunya 62, 6è 1a B; 08007 Barcelona, Spain; Phone: +34 93 488 13 18, Fax: +34 93 488 13 06; E-mail: sales@atril.com; URL: http://www.atril.com



Dr. Thomas Wassmer, fax: +49 (6204) 9868263, e-mail: tom at infotom.com