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“14 reasons why I like Déjà Vu best”

by Steven Marzuola

The only Translation Memory product I have ever purchased is Déjà Vu, from I have read the Trados and WordFast user groups, used a Trados demo a couple of times, and tried WordFast. I have also done dozens of web searches and looked at perhaps hundreds of pages, searching for other translation tools, articles, reviews, and opinions.

Here are my personal reasons to stick to DV and to view most other products skeptically. This is limited to first-hand observations and experience with DV 3.0. For example, I can't comment on all the different file formats, because my work is almost exclusively with Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). I started this list in 2003 and have learned a lot more since then, but my feelings are still the same.

  1. DV is robust. I have never lost any work due to a crash, freeze, or power failure, except sometimes the sentence I have been working on. It also “feels” robust. When I use WordFast, I fear I'm going to click in the wrong place at the wrong time, or press the wrong key, and really foul something up. From screen shots and descriptions of Trados, I have the same feeling.
  2. DV is logical to me. The work flow is, you import a document, you pre-translate it (optional), you finish the remaining translations, you export to 2 columns for spell-checking and proofreading in a different environment (optional), and finally export the finished translation.
  3. DV is flexible. Not every tool is needed with every job and not every translator works the same way. DV has tools for modifying databases, customized options, joining/splitting segments, isolating text, checking terminology and numbers, etc.
  4. DV's display shows you several sentences or paragraphs above and below your current working point. It also lets you scan rapidly up and down in the document using simple keystrokes, and you can return to your work point the same way. In WordFast, I have this feeling that I don't know where I am in the document.
  5. DV is fast; rather, it helps me work fast. I routinely translate well over 1000 words per hour into English, and my finished product has the same style (to me, and my satisfied customers) as doing it by hand in MS Word. Speed is obviously one of the top 2-3 reasons to use TM, but because of language variations it is impossible to give an exact measurement of the increased productivity. What few metrics there are show DV is at the top.
  6. DV lacks some of the complexities of other TM tools. For example, I don't understand this “cleanup” thing that Trados users talk about. It sounds like something that takes time and causes trouble, and DV doesn't have it. Good. [I now know about cleaned and uncleaned files. But in my work, my customers are not interested in my TM, only in the results.]
  7. DV allows you to handle many documents simultaneously. I have had over 80 files open at once, while other users have worked with hundreds and even thousands. If you need to change a word or phrase that appears in every document, it can often be done with a single Search-and-Replace.
  8. DV presently includes almost all the tools you need for TM in a single package. Trados and others make you buy some pieces separately, and I understand that certain features are not available on the Freelance version. It * doesn't have the Trados “statistics” for “matches found”, but I don't have any need for that.
    [* Applies to DV version 3.0.  DVX provides this information.]
  9. DV's Assemble function provides translations that are not always correct, but which often require only a few keystrokes and are almost a pleasure to fix. Maybe “pleasure” is not the right word, but I am comparing the effort required to tasks such as (a) editing a poor “human” translation, (b) editing a machine translation, and (c) editing a WordFast translation. As a trial, I imported my DV glossaries into WordFast and used it for several days. It didn't do as a good a job at putting together reasonable “first guesses”. Other DV users make the same comment about Trados.
  10. DV files are compatible. The same file format has been in use for at least 2 years. No need to handle converters or keep older versions around. Even so, DV users have access to the latest version at no extra charge. For business reasons and with the upcoming release of DVX, this may change in the future, but they have earned my loyalty. [Note: DVX was released in early 2003.]
  11. The makers of DV are not in competition with me, which is the case with SDL, the Star Group, and Trados.
  12. DV has the most helpful and enthusiastic user group ever, with the possible exception of WordFast (which is currently a free product). DV inspires that kind of loyalty. [WordFast is no longer free, although its price is much less than any other product mentioned here.]
  13. DV lets me maintain one set of databases, and handle everything from oil well drilling, construction, electrical, legal and commercial documents, thanks to subject and client tags. I can also add my customer’s glossary and use a terminology check feature.
  14. Microsoft owns 20% of Trados. [no longer true; in June, 2005, SDL announced that it was acquiring Trados.]
  15. New! The terminology check function.  DV allows you to define a list of terms that absolutely must be translated a particular way. The program examines each sentence and confirms this. It also confirms whether numbers have been reproduced correctly. This is something that should be standard among TM programs, and maybe it is, but in DV it works very well. (added August 2007).
  16. New! Déjà Vu includes SQL functions, which allow the user to select sentences and make changes throughout a project or database.

This list was intended to have 10 items, and I got carried away. Yes, DV has some peculiarities and bugs. Its longtime users have added many terms to informal “wishlists”. But I'm still a huge fan.

Last revised: August 21, 2007
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