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OmegaT Revisited: Overriding a Snap Judgment

I am a great believer in free and open-source software as it lends itself to empowering people with the technology they need to be more efficient. The ability to use a free alternative instead of a commercial product can be of great value to any person or company, especially a small business like ours, which has to run a very lean operation in order to maintain competitive edge. When a major production tool in an industry is available for free, it is arguably a blessing to many people engaged in this industry. One of such tools in the translation industry is OmegaT.

Sometimes Intuition May Be Misleading

I first got my hands on OmegaT in 2009 and I must confess I wasn’t too impressed. I fell victim of what I now know was a snap judgment—the simplistic GUI and the philosophy that didn’t align with my previous experience with other translation environment tools (TEnTs) required a degree of flexibility I couldn’t come up with at that time.

A year later, I revisited OmegaT to actually rediscover it in a way that now makes me feel bad about the previous snap judgment. In this post, I want to share a few general thoughts based on my recent experience. What I mention here is just a tip of the iceberg, and I hope to be blogging more about this tool in the future as Velior continues using it in our translation projects.

How You Can Benefit from OmegaT

  1. Packing all essential TEnT features, including project management, translation memories, and glossaries, into a single tool, OmegaT is a full-fledged translation environment software that provides a viable alternative to similar commercial products.
  2. For a freelance translator who is just embarking on a journey to a career in this industry and doesn’t have the knowledge and/or money necessary to buy a commercial TEnT, OmegaT gives a strong helping hand. For instance, it might be a good starting point for those English to Russian translators who are building their translation business from the ground up or seeking cost-efficient ways to improve productivity and quality.
  3. For an in-house translator, OmegaT gives the freedom of choice, making it possible to continue working on a project at home or using a laptop on the go just as easy as in the office.
  4. Although SDL essentially discontinued development and support of the TTX format, it remains among the most common in the industry. This means that you need the commercial SDL Trados package to accept TTX-based projects and may be a potential roadblock limiting your availability to translation agencies. OmegaT, however, eliminates this barrier by allowing you to handle the TTX format, and many others for that matter.
  5. Personally, I also enjoy the feeling of the community-based development process that is open to requests concerning bugs and new features. You can watch the software maturing and may even feel a sense of ownership in case you are somehow involved in the process.

What Limitations Need to Be Considered

Just as many other open-source initiatives, OmegaT carries a certain amount of limitations. Similarly, OpenOffice.org is arguably less sophisticated than Microsoft Office, and Ubuntu is less mature than Windows. Probably inherent to free software, such limitations are often minor in the sense that you can live with them if you make up your mind to do so. What matters most is your mindset—if your chief aim is to save wherever possible or you support free software philosophy in general, you are likely to be okay with the limitations, finding and using a temporary walkaround until they are fixed by the developers.

I am not exactly advocating for using OmegaT, because after all, it is one of the options available and has its limitations. My point is that OmegaT is a valuable alternative to commercial products that can be considered by many translators, and I am excited about the freedom of choice it adds to our trade. Hats off to this project’s team for their enthusiasm!

To benefit from the translation memory technology we employ, contact us for a high-quality Russian translation today.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.