CAT tools in 2023: part four

Tell a friend...

If you are looking for a new CAT tool, having a wider array of options to choose from can be great, but it can also make the decision process more confusing, too. If you are searching for your first CAT tool, feedback from fellow translators on what they use and why is the first thing you might seek out (and is probably why you are reading this, if you are in that situation). But how did those translators giving you recommendations choose their primary CAT tool?

A decent percentage arrived at their primary tool simply because that tool reached them first. In places where university courses in translation are available, at least some CAT tool training has become closer to the norm, and if this is not included in the curriculum, it is often driven by individual professors. CAT tool training is more likely to form part of general courses outside the traditional university setting as well. Those who get started working at in-house positions or in mentorships will often come away with their primary CAT tool set.

Colleague recommendations, market research, and client expectations are other main factors, in ascending order, though these percentages are down somewhat from 2013. Client expectation or requirement is by far the largest factor. In some cases, a client may require the use of (and even provide access to) a specific tool. In others, what the client needs is file compatibility, but the requirement gets presented or expressed as “Must use CAT tool X” when CAT tools Y and Z may be perfectly fine as long as there is file compatibility and consistency.

How did you arrive at your (primary) CAT tool_

Lots of love...

Chances are, your primary CAT tool is also going to be your favorite. You’ve spent time with it, become proficient in its use, and work faster with it than you might if you have to switch gears by switching to a tool you have used less. So the ranking of primary and favorite CAT tools follows the same order, though the percentages are a bit different, indicating that it is not necessarily primary = favorite across the board.

_My favorite CAT tool is..._ top 10

What makes your favorite CAT tool your favorite_

my cat tool is better than yours

Lots of hate?

When something is popular or widely-used, it can be expected to receive a greater quantity of negative feedback as well-- that’s just part of the game. So it should be no surprise that a tool like Trados, which has long dominated the CAT tool landscape, is number one on both the list of favorites as well as least favorites (though there is a markedly lower percentage of translators reporting it as their least favorite). The ranking of least favorite CAT tools is notably different after that, however.

_My least favorite CAT tool is..._ top ten

What is wrong with your least favorite CAT tool_

Gathering dust

Translators were also asked to report any CAT tools which they own but do not use. Language support, compatibility, poor frequency and quality of updates, difficulty in learning or using, and lack of client expectation/requirement for their use were all common reasons given for why these tools were gathering dust in these translators’ arsenals.

Do you have a CAT tool that you do not use_ (top ten)



Up next: Translator recommendations


This post comes from CAT tools 2023: an industry report. industry reports can be found at . paying members receive immediate, full access to the information available in industry reports, which are about and for freelance language professionals.


Topics: CAT tools, language services industry

Jared Tabor

Written by Jared Tabor

Jared oversees Member services at An ex-language teacher, he has lived and worked in Argentina since 1996. He has been with through the La Plata office since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter, @taboredinc .

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