Omega for Translators

I decided to give Omega T a try a couple of months ago after seeing it mentioned in many a translation blog.  It is no new tool, as it has been around for about a decade, but as a green translation grasshopper, I had never heard of it before.

I had been searching for a program that would remedy my lack of a solid CAT tool, at least while I could gather my finances in order to purchase a real Trados license.  Omega T appeared to be everything I had been looking for: it allows you to import and export TMX files and supports several file formats, including html, MS Office XML and MediaWiki.  It also provides for building your own TM and glossary and configure segmentation when creating the project.

I was able to test it when I received a fairly long Word document for translation.  The entire translation was going to be under my control, as there was no previous TM or glossary nor any sort of client specification, all of which made it the perfect test subject.

From the very beginning, I fell in love with the interface, which consists of a large leftside screen for the translation and a resizable right screen divided into two boxes, one for TM matches, and one for glossary terms.  The text is lined up like in Trados, that is, the source in the upper part of the segment, above the target, instead of side by side.  And, like Trados, Omega T does not use a table format, Wordfast-style.  Above all – and very important to me – , you can modify the text size and font.  One of the things I most dislike about segmentation in boxes is that the font is often too small.  Sure, you can augment the screen, but have you noticed what happens to the text when you do that?  It gets distorted, and like with low resolution images zoomed in, you can see every tiny grain and dot on those letters.

The tool turned out to be very useful for that particular project, which had many, many repetitions.  These appear on the right-side box I mentioned before, allowing you to search through the matches – if more than one is available– and insert the most appropriate one from the comfort of your keyboard.  It will also propagate perfect matches, which feels really nice when you’re running out of time.  And if you care for it, it interfaces to Google Translate (although, as I am not too much of a fan of Google Translate, I did not explore that option).

A final added benefit is that it creates a project folder that contains all TMX, source and target files, as well as the glossary.  That way, it handles projects with multiple texts nicely, as they are all filed together in one unified folder without you having to do any file management.  When you finish translating, you just have to click on “Create translated files” in the File menu, and the translated text will magically appear in the project folder, inside the Target subfolder.

Omega T’s only drawbacks, however, as far as I could see, is its handling of formatting and terminology, as there are no buttons for inserting placeables and terms.  The terminology box is there for you to see the term as you entered it in the glossary, but you have to type it in yourself or copy and paste it from the box.  Finally, if you’re not careful with the tags, the formatting can get a little messy.  If you insert a match from a previous occurrence and the tagging is a little different from the one in your current segment, it can alter the formatting in mysterious ways.  Also, it gets hard to work around the tags, because strangely, the segment to be translated is not an empty space or box, but a perfect replica of the source sitting atop it.  Therefore, you have to highlight that text and delete it in order to insert your translation and when you do that, the tags go away with it (unless there is a magical trick to fix the tags in place that I don’t know about).  It’s not always obvious what the tags are doing in the text, so when you delete them, inadvertently or purposefully, you could displace the formatting a bit.  Sure, you can fix it later in Word, but you know how time-consuming and frustrating an endeavor that can turn out to be.

Overall, it is a good tool that delivers if you don’t have complex formatting to deal with (tables, lots of links, etc.).  And did I mention it’s free?  And it runs on OSX, so Mac people devoid of a Windows partition will not be disappointed.

Enjoy! 

Please feel free to comment about your experience with this tool.

Here are some links to older Omega T reviews:

http://www.translationtribulations.com/2010/03/state-of-omegat.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OmegaT

http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/151/1/OmegaT-reviewhttp://thoughtsontranslation.com/2008/04/11/omegat-a-free-and-very-useful-tent/

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