Dr. Tom's Independent Software Reviews


Short Reviews

TRADOS was founded in 1984 by Jochen Hummel and Iko Knyphausen in Stuttgart, Germany to provide translation services for IBM. In 1990, the first version of one of TRADOS's main components, MultiTerm, was created as a memory-resident multilingual terminology manager for DOS. By the end of 1992, TRADOS developed the first MultiTerm for Windows. At the same time, the second main component of TRADOS, the Translator's Workbench, introducing linguistic fuzzy-matching on translation memories, was established for DOS and 1994 for Windows. A huge success of TRADOS in 1997 was the decision of Microsoft to base its internal localization memory store on TRADOS. Microsoft also acquired a share of 20% in TRADOS. In the same year, WinAlign, a visual text
alignment tool, was released as the first fully-fledged 32bit application in TRADOS. In 1998 TRADOS acquired the S-Tagger technology by International Translation & Publishing, Ltd. (ITP). S-Tagger is a conversion tool for converting FrameMaker and Interleaf files into a format that can easily be edited and translated in MS Word using Translator's Workbench. In April 2000, TRADOS Translation Solution Edition 3 was released supporting XML and Bi-directional Languages. It contained the Translator's Workbench, the HTML/XML editor TagEditor, MultiTerm, WinAlign, the S-Taggers, and T-Window for PowerPoint. In March 2001, TRADOS announces the launch of TRADOS 5. As a multinational corporation, TRADOS has offices in Germany, France, Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

Fig. 1: The TRADOS Workspace is the central administration tool for all translation projects (TRADOS Workspace Files *.tws) including the folders for source and target files, supplements and analysis reports.
Please click on the image for a screenmovie (580 K) showing all options of the Workspace Interface.
Requires the TSCC Codec (170 K). If you have problems viewing the embedded video, you may download it here.

TRADOS specializes in terminology management and translation memory software. TRADOS consists of several seamlessly integrated editors and tools for Translators, Localization Engineers and Project Managers. The software supports a variety of file formats such as: ASCII- and ANSI-Text (TXT), Word documents (DOC and RTF), help files (RTF), resource files (RC), Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations, as well as tagged text file formats, including XML, SGML, HTML, FrameMaker, Interleaf, QuickSilver, QuarkXPress, PageMaker and Ventura. Through a currently free add-on (T-Window for Executables) it is now also possible to translate the text contained in executables (EXE), dynamic link libraries (DLL) and ActiveX controls (OCX). The TRADOS 5 system contains:

  • WorkSpace: This is a new feature in TRADOS 5. WorkSpace is the central intuitive interface of TRADOS 5. Thanks to an advanced cross-application integration, WorkSpace serves as a powerful task-based launchpad for the individual TRADOS components. However, its main task goes much further, including a feature-rich project management, distribution of formatted packages to external coworkers and reintegration of packages after accomplished tasks, as well as automated batch tasks for conversion, analysis, pre-translation and statistics.
  • XTranslate: This is another new feature in TRADOS 5, which enables project managers to transfer approved translations automatically from previous versions of bilingual documents into new versions of source documents. Translation Units (XUs) created by XTranslate are not touched during interactive or batch translations. Conversion and filter components for processing the most widely-used DTP and tagged text file formats, including XML, SGML, HTML, FrameMaker, Interleaf, QuickSilver, QuarkXPress, PageMaker and Ventura. These components are accessed through WorkSpace tasks.

Fig. 2: Translating a RC file using the TRADOS Translator's Workbench (upper left) and MultiTerm (upper right) together with the MS Word Front-End (2nd row)
Please click on the image for a closer look!

  • Translator's Workbench: The Translator’s Workbench is TRADOS' professional translation memory (TM) system. It can be fully integrated into a word processing environment (Microsoft Word) using a toolbar and several macros inside the word processor. The TM shows an advanced, customizable fuzzy-match functionality with color-coded highlighting of all deviations to identify similar (and not just identical) entries in the translation memory. In addition, it can be run cross-linked to the terminology base MultiTerm. The Translator's Workbench is networkable.
  • MultiTerm: Is a concept-oriented terminology database and management system. As with the TM, a powerful and robust fuzzy-index engine ensures that similar (and not just identical) phrases are found. Translations using the Translator’s Workbench combined with MultiTerm allows a high terminological consistency and quality. In addition, MultiTerm helps translators and terminologists to store and manage their terminological knowledge in flexible, customizable databases. MultiTerm can be accessed from within the word processing environment. Through the XML conversion utility for termbases: MultiTerm Migration Tool (part of the TRADOS system), you can easily publish your terminology database over the Internet or Intranet using MultiTerm Web Access (separately sold and not evaluated in this review!) or any other XML-aware application and publishing system. MultiTerm is also networkable.

Fig. 3: A more complex MultiTerm terminology base containing the Microsoft GUI Guide in 9 languages, including definitions and gender information
Please click on the image for a closer look!

  • ExtraTerm: A third new feature of TRADOS 5 is a new terminology extraction application, which automatically extracts a list of candidate terms and their probable translations when working with bilingual documents (TMX, TTX, TMW), or candidate terms when working with monolingual documents. It also enables candidate terms to be edited and validated quickly and easily. The output of ExtraTerm can be easily imported into MultiTerm. This feature is not available with the Freelance version of TRADOS 5.


Fig. 4: TRADOS new terminology extraction tool: ExtraTerm, featuring ...
Please click on the image for a closer look!

  • WinAlign: The visual alignment system WinAlign allows users to create a translation memory from translation material from previous projects. The program examines the source- and target-language texts to determine which sentence pairs belong together. After an automated procedure (file names, structural recognition check, segment alignment), the results can be viewed and, if necessary, post-edited in an easy-to-use graphical alignment editor. The output can be easily imported into the Translator's Workbench.


Fig. 5: TRADOS WinAlign ...
Please click on the image for a closer look!

  • TRADOS front-ends / editors: TagEditor, (Microsoft Word - obviously not part of TRADOS) , T-Window for PowerPoint & T-Window Collection: Thanks to advanced conversion mechanisms and a streamlined translation workflow, TRADOS TagEditor enables you to directly open Web and SGML based formats such as HTML/ASP/JSP, XML and XSL and DTP formats such as FrameMaker, PageMaker, QuarkXPress and Interleaf/Quicksilver. Replacing your word processor by the TagEditor, these files can be translated in conjunction with the Translator's Workbench as easy as untagged file formats. All tags are protected against accidental editing or deletion. Unfortunately, TRADOS TagEditor does not check for correct syntax when the translation is transferred from the source to the target document. However, it provides common tools of a word processing environment such as spellchecking and search & replace. You can switch between source view, target view, bilingual edit view and a semi-WYSIWYG view for tagged formats.

Fig. 6: TRADOS TagEditor ...
Please click on the image for a closer look!

  • The T-Window Collection is a new suite of enhancements to TRADOS 5 that significantly extends the reach of file formats available in TRADOS 5 by introducing support for translating Excel spreadsheets and Windows software files both in resource (RC) and binary format. What's more, users can now translate virtually any text from any application using T-Window for Clipboard.

Fig. 7: TRADOS T-Window for Executables ...
Please click on the image for a closer look!

Editions & Prices:

  • TRADOS 5.5 Freelance includes:
    • WorkSpace: freelance users can chose between five languages. Translators can create a bilingual project with a source and target language from the five languages selected in Translator’s Workbench. Packages cannot be generated from a project created in TRADOS 5 Freelance, however, on completion of the translation the translator can create a return package on the basis of a TRADOS 5 project received. The Create Project TM task is not available (as this function is not available in Translator ’s Workbench Freelance), similarly, the Create Custom Analysis Report task, the XTranslate functionality and the Create RFQ Report task are not available. The project manager, TRADOS specialist and super user roles are not available as these are not generally required by freelancers.
    • Translator's Workbench supports up to five languages but is not network-enabled. The Create Project TM task is not available.
    • Front-Ends (TagEditor, T-Window for PowerPoint) & Filters (Story Collector for PageMaker and QuarkXPress, Font Mapper for FrameMaker and Interleaf).
    • WinAlign
    • ExtraTerm is not included in the Freelance package!
    • MultiTerm and for a limited time, MultiTerm iX Freelance Workstation is also included for FREE!.
    • Only the "Getting Started Guide" in printed version.

    WinAlign and WorkSpace with reduced capabilities compared to TRADOS Corporate (Team Edition). Can not be used on a network. Until June 25, 2002: $ 645 / € 695 - instead of $ 795 / € 850.

  • Starting with TRADOS 5.5, there will not be a single Corporate or Team Edition, but several packages, which include more or less of TRADOS' modules. This allows corporate users to purchase just the needed tools while saving money. However, if you still want the whole package of the former TRADOS 5 Corporate Edition, it will cost you a whole lot more now. Instead of 5450 Euro ($ 4886.47) for almost everything TRADOS had to offer in June 2001, you can now select from:
    • The Translation Memory Pack including the Translator's Workbench, MultiTerm and WorkSpace and support of 3 Front-ends/Editors: MS Word, TagEditor and T-Window for PowerPoint. € 2743.33 (2500 US$).
    • Optional Pack Front-Ends and Filters contains the T-Window Collection and S-Tagger for FrameMaker and Interleaf/Quicksilver. Solutions for other DTP-Formats available.
    • Translation and Terminology Mining Pack: WinAlign, ExtraTerm. € 1755,73 (1600 US$).
    • Update Management: XTranslate. € 8230 (7500 US$).

Fig. 8: TRADOS T-Window Editor for Clipboard Content with associated Workbench
Please click on the image for a closer look!

Usage & Evaluation:

As expected, TRADOS 5 continued the tradition of it's predecessor TRADOS 3 to be a highly efficient TM and terminology solution. The new Workspace adds easy and effective project management options to both TRADOS Corporate and Freelance Editions and serves as a convenient central GUI for all of TRADOS many functions.
In Version 3, terminology extraction was a tedious and often erroneous job. Therefore, the makers of TRADOS put extra effort to create the new module ExtraTerm to serve this purpose. From its design, ExtraTerm is a powerful tool but still suffers from quite a few children's diseases. First, setting up filters and configuring import settings takes a lot of time - if you do not have a treasure of valuable terminology hidden in supported source files, it barely pays off to invest in the awkward setup. ExtraTerm was also developed to allow the import of longer phrases from workbench files (TRADOS' TM) into the terminology base MultiTerm. Besides the obvious laborious job to manually chunk the phrases into terminology size, ExtraTerm still suffers from sudden breakdowns during import of larger workbenches.
In contrast, some longtime proven elements of TRADOS even became better: the Alignment-Tool WinAlign competently helps to restore or rebuild a TM by comparing corresponding files in various formats including XML. For most file formats, TRADOS uses Microsoft Word as the editor to work on the translation. Only tagged file types such as the Web and DTP formats: HTML/ASP/JSP, XML, FrameMaker, PageMaker, QuarkXPress and Interleaf/Quicksilver are handled in an internal front end called TagEditor. This TagEditor is another remarkable part of TRADOS: it correctly and conveniently recognizes, masks and protects all or selected tags. This provides a better overview of the file content and protects vital information within the tags.

Another highlight of TRADOS 5 is the T-Window Collection, which was not included in the original distribution but was supplied to registered customers free of charge. This suite of new front-ends/editors adds support of formerly unsupported file types to TRADOS. The T-Window for Excel enables the translation of text contained in Microsoft Excel workbook and worksheet files as well as tab-delimited text files. The T-Window for Executables supports executable (*.exe), dynamic link library (*.dll) and ActiveX control (*.ocx) files including batch translation, analysis and alignment functionality. Any file format still not supported is accessible through the T-Window for Clipboard, which enables TM-supported translation of any clipboard content coming from any Windows application that uses clipboard functionality.
Supported by the T-Window Collection, TRADOS became the TM software offering the broadest range of source file support on the market. However, translation of RC files and Executables can not compete with specialized tools like Alchemy CATALYST, PASSOLO or RC-WinTrans - whereas translation of software documentation in HTML or RTF format is much more convenient using TRADOS or STAR. Being a quasi-standard, all specialized software localizers support TRADOS either by specialized AddIns (PASSOLO, RC-WinTrans) or export-import filters (CATALYST).

As Danilo Nogueira put it in a recent review so accurate into words: "Unfortunately, Extraterm, the terminology extraction tool and the most important enticement to upgrading from version 3.x, is supplied with the Team version only, something that made many freelance translators somewhat reluctant to upgrade, for the Team version is not exactly freelance priced." (Danilo Nogueira: Translation Tools Today, Translation Journal, Volume 6, No. 1, January 2002).

Up to now, TRADOS lacks a free translation tool for freelance translators working on contract projects prepared with TRADOS Corporate Edition. Unfortunately, TRADOS seems not to care about the financial state and prospects of the majority of freelance translators, for whom more than 600 $ is a huge investment.

System Requirements:
TRADOS 5 runs under Windows 95 (only support for Windows 95 OEM Service Release, versions 2.1, 2.5), Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT and Windows 2000. Windows NT and Windows 2000 are recommended for optimum performance. It requires a PC with Pentium processor (Pentium II or higher recommended) with 64 MB RAM or more, MultiTerm and Translator's Workbench support all common networks. Supported versions of MS Office: Office 97 and 2000.

Company Information: TRADOS Corporation; 113 S. Columbus Street; Alexandria, VA 22314; Phone ++1-703-683-6900, Fax ++1-703-683-9457; E-mail: eva@trados.com; URL: http://www.trados.com.



Dr. Thomas Wassmer, voice: +49 (6204) 9868231, e-mail: tom at infotom.com