A Comparison between Memsource Editor and SDL Trados Studio 2011

What can you expect if an enthusiastic user of a competitive product decides to write a review about your own product? Usually, not something you would like to mention on your own corporate blog. Luckily, there are exceptions…

Emma Goldsmith, a freelance translator and a long-time user of SDL Trados Studio has recently published a comparison between Memsource Editor and SDL Trados Studio 2011 on her personal blog. We found the review to be not only very balanced but also precise. When listing the advantages of Memsource Editor over Studio 2011, she actually comes up with a list that’s quite long. She lists some disadvantages too. And she is right we are working hard to remove these.

OK. Why does Emma not switch from Studio to MemSource? I think this may relate to a more general question of why - so far - freelancers seem to prefer desktop translation tools over their cloud-based alternatives. Personally, I think it is not only about the availability of specific features but also about the ability to have all translation resources (e.g. translation memories and terminology) on one’s desktop. There are still many freelancers that every now and then need to translate offline.

Eventually, freelancers will switch to cloud-based translation software. And they will follow translation companies, who will make the move before them. The majority of translation companies still use desktop translation tools. Given the team-oriented nature of their work, this makes no sense, of course. And they are switching already. Currently, Memsource is adding 500 new users a month.

Even if freelancers are not the market segment that Memsource aims at, their opinion on Memsource Editor is critical.  We would not be able to successfully sell to translation companies if their freelancers revolted against our software. When asking freelancers about their experience with cloud-based translation software, I often heard this: “productivity killer” - luckily they were not referring to MemSource.

When designing Memsource back in 2010, we decided to also develop a translator’s workbench that would combine the benefits of the cloud with the responsiveness of desktop CAT tools. These were to become the four main ingredients of Memsource Editor’s success:

1. Fast

Anyone translating in Memsource Editor - and also Emma has confirmed this in her review - will find that the Memsource workbench is actually faster than desktop-only CAT tools for most actions. Confirming a segment, searching TM, filtering segments by words or segment status is instantaneous. Even if some of these require interaction with the cloud-based servers.

2. Easy to Use

CAT tools and specifically the “leading CAT tools” have become extremely bloated over the years. One of the reasons is that they do not just provide the translation functionality but also translation project management. Memsource Editor is only used for translation and not for setting up translation projects, which is done in Memsource Cloud. This makes getting started in Memsource Editor extremely easy. Indeed, as Emma notes: “I was up and running in no time.”

Even though Memsource Editor is easy to use, it does not stay behind any of its desktop-only counterparts in terms of functionality. This is also confirmed by Emma’s review. And it even has features that, for instance Studio 2011, does not have, such as segment sorting.

4. Free

Last but not least, Memsource Editor is provided as a free download, while all the traditional CAT tools charge a hefty license fee if freelancers want to use it.


With all of the 4 aspects combined, Memsource is a game changer for translation companies. Now LSPs can ask any translator anywhere in the world to translate for them, without facing any of the typical obstacles of today’s leading CAT tools.

Memsource Editor mission accomplished? There are still many areas where we plan to improve. Some of the issues Emma mentioned have already been resolved in our recent Memsource Editor 1.71 release. And we are working on others, such as the inline spell-checking feature.

Written by David Canek, MemSource