Earlier this year I discovered OmegaT, an open-source tool for computer-aided translation. I had been working with Similis previously but considered it mediocre (for my requirements) and it wasn’t evolving. OmegaT is a complete set of tools in one package with regular additions and improvements as well as an active user group. It’s what Jost Zetzsche, one of the industry gurus, calls a TenT, a translation environment tool. Such a tool incorporates a number of functions, in particular:
- a translation memory, allowing you to reuse what you have previously translated
- a bilingual dictionary, allowing you to look up the definition of words
- a glossary, allowing access to specific terminology
- a spell checker
- a module allowing machine translation
- file filters for working with different file formats
- methods for handling tags
- interoperability with other tools
OmegaT also includes the following less-commonly-found functions:
- a scripting engine, allowing you to write small programs for automation
- multiple translations for any segment
- adding notes for any segment
Before using this tool on real projects, in order to get off on the right foot, I attended a one-day training session, which was well worth it. I was able to work efficiently almost immediately afterwards and found that I knew the answers to most of the questions asked on the user forum and therefore had a lot less problems. Training sessions are unfortunately not available in all countries; I am lucky in that the program development coordinator for OmegaT lives in Lyon where I attended the workshop.
OmegaT works closely with a number of other open-source tools that allow file format conversion, alignment, quality control, segmentation and more.
So OmegaT is my tool now but the field is rapidly changing (sigh), as are so many other things, so we have to stay on the ball and keep a lookout for new developments. In particular, usable machine translation seems to be getting better, so this may change the playing field for translators in the future.