Changing from Wordfast Classic to another CAT tool had been at the back of my mind for some time. Especially after I updated to the latest Windows and Word versions, which robbed Wordfast of some of its functionality and slowed it down considerably. And coupled with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the dictation software I prefer to use for all my translations, things would often come to a complete standstill and crash. Still I resisted because I loathe trying out new programs, resent the time it takes to set them up and learn how to use and fear something going horribly wrong.
Then one day, Wordfast refused to process an ordinary document because of its tags. Given that I’d translated plenty of texts with tags in them before with the tool, I was quite taken aback by this situation. But at least it finally galvanised me into action. As I knew memoQ rather than SDL Trados Studio was the CAT I wanted to try next, I went to the website and downloaded the latest program available at the time (version 8.1.7) for a free 45-day trial. I later bought the full licence with a Proz.com group buy.
Installation with the wizard, creating a TMX file of my Wordfast memory and transferring this over to memoQ were all relatively painless (although some parts of the memory were not exported properly, which I believe is a Wordfast rather than a memoQ problem). The tougher part is using the CAT to translate your first document with a looming deadline. As a long-term user of Wordfast accustomed to a much easier tool with far fewer ribbons and buttons, suddenly being immersed in the memoQ environment was a bit of a shock.
There’s a wealth of training materials (manuals, webinars, blog posts) out there on memoQ. And that’s part of the problem for people like me whose brains switch off at the thought of being overloaded with technical information. The introductory video (which I’ve only just watched after a few months of using memoQ) lasts an hour and contains way more details than you need to start using the tool. The Getting Started Manual is over 30 pages long. Again, I’m reading it now to help me write this series of posts. I also recently attended an afternoon workshop on memoQ with ITI Wessex and picked up some good tips (thank you Karen Rutland).
This might seem the wrong way round to do things for some colleagues. But with my time constraints, it made more sense to get to grips with memoQ’s most basic features first by translating a few jobs and then learning some of the finer points later when I’d already had some hands-on experience with the tool.
One of the fastest ways to get help with a memoQ query is to type it into Google. And if that gives no joy, there’s a memoQ users group you can join on Facebook, a memoQ group on LinkedIn and a memoQ support forum on Proz.com. If none of this helps or you need a problem solved fast, contact Kilgray support.
The big plus with memoQ over Wordfast is that it handles tags, tables of contents and photos seamlessly. No longer do I need to worry that Wordfast has mucked everything up and made images disappear or shifted them from one part of the document to another. And that really is a huge relief. My new CAT also processes headers, footers and footnotes. Wordfast never recognises these and they have to be translated separately outside the tool, copied and pasted into a separate document, translated using Wordfast, cleaned and then copied and pasted back into the translation. Yes, it’s tedious!
I think it’s definitely worth the effort to persevere with memoQ because it has far more features than the less complex Wordfast, which, once learned, can speed up the translation process and improve the quality of the final document. The tool is also better at handling more complicated formats as well as Excel and PowerPoint files. Although my Wordfast memory didn’t transfer over to memoQ as smoothly as I would have liked, which means I will have to align documents and/or keep looking up terms and phrases in my previous CAT, I’m happy I made the switch. And, as I often feel after trying new software and getting to grips with it, I wish I’d tried it sooner.
In memoQ for the non-tech savvy – First Translation (Part 2) I show you how easy it is to start translating with memoQ.