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CAT tool

What is computer-assisted translation and how does it help language service providers?

Computer-assisted translation, or CAT, is the use of specialized software to assist a human translator in the translation process (source: Wikipedia).

Computer-assisted translation should not be confused with machine translation, which is translation done by a computer and which we talked about in our blog post Machine translation: What is it and how can it help reduce costs?

Computer-assisted translation is commonly used by translators and proofreaders, as it allows them to use and manage translation memories and glossaries to help them in their work.

Unlike machine translation, computer-assisted translation can be used with all language combinations and areas of specialization. It is a system to help translators and editors that can process texts in any format leaving them free to focus on the text itself, without having to worry about formatting or, in the case of html, indd, xml, json or xliff files, for example, tags and codes. As we explained in this post, these kinds of codes routinely come up in software localization projects.

What are the benefits of using CAT tools?

  1. They can filter almost all file formats on the market (and prevent codes from breaking).
  2. They use translation memories, i.e., databases containing all the texts we have previously translated, allowing us to reuse content we have translated before. This reduces both the cost and time required for the translation. It also helps ensure a consistent style to achieve a good-quality final text.
  3. They can analyze files and provide word counts that include repetitions and words that are already in the memory and, thus, do not need to be translated again.
  4. They include glossaries.
  5. They can be integrated with machine-translation systems.
  6. They convert the translated files to the same format as the original.
  7. They allow you to add notes for translators and editors and set limits on translation lengths.

For all these reasons, using a CAT tool helps to cut costs and improve translation quality.

Traducció assistida per ordinador

What CAT tools are there on the market?

Several CAT tools are currently available on the market. Some are open-source and free, while others require a paid license.

Shown below are some of the free tools currently available:

  1. OmegaT: “OmegaT is a free translation memory application that works on Windows, MacOS, Linux… It is a tool intended for professional translators. It does not translate for you!”
  2. BasicCAT: “BasicCAT is an open-source and free computer-aided translation tool, which aims at providing a simple and useful tool for translators. The name is BasicCAT because of its simplicity and its programming language—Basic. Basic is easy to learn and everyone can build a suitable CAT tool based on BasicCAT’s source code.”
  3. Virtaal: “Virtaal is a feature-rich translation tool that allows you to focus on translation, without the tool getting in the way.”
  4. Swordfish: “Swordfish is an advanced CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) tool based on open standards, designed for demanding professional translators.”

In addition to these free open-source tools, there are also commercial tools requiring a paid license that work quite well. At LocalizationLab, we have been using Trados for a long time, and it has always worked well for us.

To choose the most beneficial CAT software for us and our clients, we first conducted our own market research. We contacted the main suppliers on the market and tested each system ourselves.

If you would like to know why we chose the software we did and how it can help you with your multilingual content management, email us at We would be delighted to help.