Open Source Tools for Translators

Some of the most significant investments made by any translator, either novice or experienced, refer to the tools of the trade. No matter how engaged the translator gets into his/her craft, one will always consider computer hardware and software in the shopping list, because the days when the profession depended on pen and paper are long gone.

Nowadays, there is so much more to say about translation tools, because one of the tasks on which computers have been able to assist is in the process of translation of texts, by providing, for instance, an easy access to dictionaries and tools that support translation memory.

For a long time the only widely-known (or available) translation memory software packages would be far too expensive for some pockets, then free and open source solutions emerged. Another point addressed especially by professional translators is that the software manufacturers were getting too much into their workshop by dictating how to work.

The present financial constraints caused by recession trends (and the clients’ second thoughts before making the right choice of advancing towards the international and multi-linguistic global market) might cause some translators to consider alternative, free, or open source tools to reduce costs while improving productivity associated with professional translation services. Adopting open source software is the right move for all those who are increasingly tired of expensive update cycles which apparently add little value to the translation result. Open source software is an available and easy option for the translation community all over the world and there are several tool kits available for the interested colleague translator.

Of course one can consider open source stand-alone applications only, but as internet-access becomes more and more fluid, it is wiser to have good look at what is available on cloud computing, i.e. online-based applications which frees up PC memory on users’ side. Despite the lack of advertising the informed translator should be aware of some of the rather useful free tools presented below.

An advantage created by joining the open source software circle is the fact that it enables the participation in specialized social networks with strategic importance for an knowledgeable professional translator while raising one’s awareness for innovation.

So here’s a collection of some of the useful tools and online applications available to professional translators:
{t}Office-type (text processing, presentation, spreadsheet, database) Open Office (http://www.openoffice.org) is a free office application suite available for a number of different computer operating systems. It supports the OpenDocument Format , as well as Microsoft Office formats among others. As of March 2009, OpenOffice supports over 80 languages.{/t}

Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) is a free, Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and form application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader) is a multilingual PDF reader. Just like Adobe Reader, the basic reader can be downloaded for free, nevertheless Foxit is renowned for its short load time and small filesize, which has been compared favorably to Adobe Reader.

Web-browsing - Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/firefox) is a free web browser known for its low PC resources consumption and for the fact of including tabbed browsing, a spell checker, incremental find, live bookmarking, a download manager, and an integrated search system that uses the user's desired search engine. Functions can be added through rather useful add-ons.

Email manager - Mozilla Thunderbird (http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird) is a free, open source, cross-platform e-mail and news client.

Translation Memory - OmegaT (http://www.omegat.org) is a computer-assisted translation tool written in the Java programming language. This open source tool is intended for professional translators. Some of its features include user-customizable segmentation using regular expressions, translation memory, fuzzy matching, match propagation, glossary matching, context search in translation memories and keyword search in reference materials.

Anaphraseus (http://anaphraseus.sourceforge.net/) is a CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tool for creating, managing and using bilingual translation memories in any languages. It slots into OpenOffice much the same way Wordfast is crammed into M$ Word. It can also export/import files in the Unicode UTF-16 Translation Memory Exchange (TMX) format.

Video Subtitling Subtitles Translator (http://www.mironto.sk) is a free piece of software intended for translating subtitles in MicroDVD format from one language to another. This program helps by taking care of formatting the subtitles, editing start and end frame numbers and so on.

Subtitle Workshop (http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Video/Other-VIDEO-Tools/Subtitl…) is the ultimate subtitle editing tool that includes spell check function and an advanced view-preview feature.

AntiVirus ClamWin (http://www.clamwin.com) is free, open source antivirus software for Microsoft Windows. It features: high detection rates for viruses and spyware; scanning scheduler; automatic downloads of regularly updated virus database; standalone virus scanner and right-click menu integration to Microsoft Windows Explorer; and ability to remove virus-infected attachments automatically.

Online terminological databases Another type of free tools online dictionaries as well as online terminological databases, whose variety and availability in recent years has expanded tremendously. One of the most famous and widely-accessed is IATE - Inter-Active Terminology for Europe, which covers a plethora of subject areas.

IATE - Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (http://iate.europa.eu) is the European Union (EU) inter-institutional terminology database. IATE incorporates all of the existing terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into a single new, highly interactive and accessible interinstitutional database. The following legacy databases have been imported into IATE, which now contains approximately 1.4 million multilingual entries.

Surely there will be many more options for some items on this collection, many more certainly for video and photo editing, for instance. For instance, free webmail, such as Gmail and Hotmail, is also a good way of outsourcing resources while making communication and documents available virtually anywhere in the world: the nomad translator will appreciate it for sure… Skype, MSN Messenger, AIM, Google Talk and similar will be very handy and will make communication with neighbors and international customers very easy and affordable.

Last tip for the nomad professional translator: if you are on the road with your smartphone and have a nice data-traffic plan, Fring (http://www.fring.com) might help you. Fring is enables users to talk and chat using Skype, ICQ, Google Talk, MSN Messenger / Windows Live Messenger, AIM, Yahoo Messenger and SIP providers. With Fring one can send and receive calls as well as message all contacts by using a reasonable cellular data plan or a WiFi connection rather than minutes. The backpack translator on the road can even make affordable local and international calls to landline and regular cellular numbers using a Skype account or almost any VoIP service.