Phrase, formerly known as Memsource, is a CAT tool (Computer-Assisted Translation) and translation management system launched in 2011. The translation management tool is designed for enterprises, language service providers, and translators providing various functions, to simplify and speed up the translation process. Phrasewas designed to make the collaboration between companies and project managers easier and more efficient.
In contrast to many other CAT tools, the Phrase CAT tool is completely cloud-based. Competitors like SDL Trados, Across Language Server, or memoQ are available as software for Windows and some also offer a browser version in addition to their desktop option.
In general, it can be said that more and more CAT tool providers begin to add cloud solutions to their already existing portfolio. For example, SDL Trados Live, a cloud-based translation software to complement the desktop version of SDL Trados.
At EHLION, we are not new to CAT tools and even offer CAT tool training. We will make it easier for you to find the pros and cons of each popular CAT tool available. We have put together a series of articles highlighting the most used CAT tools on the market so you can easily compare the functions, costs, and special features of each CAT tool. Here we will show you all the functions, application possibilities, and cost of Phrase.
Phrase – features and application possibilities
Integration of machine translation
- Possibility to integrate more than 30 machine translation services.
- Amazon Translate, Google Translate and Microsoft Translator are already integrated. Users with relevant expertise can access various other MT engines.
Integrations of Phrase machine translation
In the case where machine translators are used, the results of those translations need to be edited by a human translator to ensure that errors are erased and the text matches human standards. Even though thanks to AI-powered machine translation, the results get better and better, machines haven’t reached a point of human intelligence and still make mistakes and get to their limits with certain tasks. In short, human translators are still (at this point) irreplaceable.
Phrase also offers a service that goes beyond the simple integration of machine translation: Machine Translation Quality Estimation. This means that you can save yourself the hassle of figuring out which MT engine fits best your project requirements because an AI-powered algorithm will find the MT engine that is the best fit for your project.
Phrase file formats and supported languages
Arabic, Spanish, English, German, are a few of the 500 and more languages supported by Phrase. Another bonus, Phrase also offers variants of different languages like Arabic or French. A list of all the available languages can be found here.
Phrase can edit more than 50 file formats, amongst them, popular ones such as
- Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel
- Adobe InDesign and Photoshop
- HTML and XML
A list of all the available file formats can be found here
Integration of third-party services into the Phrase translation management system
Phrase doesn’t only allow the integration of machine translators, it also supports the integration of other third-party services from different areas such as marketing, content, or storage space.
To name a few examples:
- Google Drive
Translation memory (TM) and terminology management
TM and terminology management are two functions a professional CAT tool needs to have and Phrase is no exception.
TMs are databases filled with source texts and their translations. So, whenever a phrase or sentence that needs to be translated is already saved in the Phrase translation memory, the translator can see that. This way a sentence doesn’t need to be translated twice.
A database that stores terminology and related information is also called a termbase. A termbase works similar to translation memory and information is displayed to the translator, whenever there is a match. This allows the uniform use of terminology and contributes to a consistent corporate language.
When it comes to TM and termbases in Phrase though, some linguists complain that they can’t upload their own translation memories and termbases, as this can only be done by a project manager.
Phrase Cloud – Products
Phrase is a cloud-based service. Via the cloud one can access Phrase from anywhere using a wide variety of devices and operating systems. This is something none of the other cloud-based CAT tools are not able to offer. This advantage of Phrase allows project managers and translators to work more flexibly.
- Phrase Web Editor: Phrase can be easily accessed through your web browser.
- Phrase Desktop Editor: While many CAT tool providers only offer their desktop version for Windows, the Phrase desktop editor is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and therewith addresses a wider target audience. Although the desktop version also works offline, its full functionality is only achieved with an internet connection.
In this context, it is worth mentioning the pros and cons of cloud solutions.
- You can use Phrase without having to install it on your computer.
- You no longer need to worry about installing the latest updates, this will automatically be done for you and you can rest assured that you are always working with the latest version of Phrase.
- Phrase can be used across different platforms.
- It is cheaper than non-cloud-based alternatives.
- You need a constant stable internet connection to use all the available functions.
- Independent of Phrase, a topic that always comes up when talking about cloud solutions is safety and confidentiality, when it comes to handling sensitive data which is stored on a third-party server.
Most CAT tools offer three different versions: one for companies and language service providers, one for translators, and one free version with limited functions. Phrase however has a different concept and offers multiple versions of their product.
Furthermore, there is a Phrase free trial for Team Start, Team, and Ultimate
All versions, starting with “Team Start”, include the following functionalities:
- Translation memory
- Terminology management
- Integration of machine translation services
- The possibility to connect Phrase to third-party services such as Dropbox, Google Drive
- 24 hours technical support
- Automation widget
With each version after the “Team Start” plan, the number of available functions increases and the number of free linguist accounts per project manager increases as well. “Team Start” has 2 free linguist accounts per project manager, while “Team” has 10 free accounts per project manager.
The Phrase personal edition on the contrary is mainly designed for people, who only need to do translations occasionally, therefore it is not a suitable tool for a full-time translator as this version has limited functionality.
Phrase Certification Program
Whilst former Memsource offered a certification program either on-site or online, Phrase is currently offering Student certification (TMS), Developer certification (TMS), Admin certification (TMS), Project manager certification (TMS) and Linguist certification (TMS). Phrase is also currently working on offering additional certification programs.
Detailed information can be found here.
Conclusion – Increased flexibility with a cloud-based CAT tool
As a cloud-based CAT tool, Phrase comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Without a doubt, one of the upsides of this cloud-based CAT tool is its flexibility.
Phrase can be used on various devices and operating systems, and even though it can be installed locally, once can work online and avoid checking for updates, as it is done automatically for you.
On the downside, although the desktop version works offline, to make use of the full functionality and options Phrase has to offer, you will need a stable internet connection. Also, some users might worry about safety when everything is uploaded on a third-party server.
Apart from the standard features that you expect from every professional CAT tool, it is worth mentioning that Phrase supports more than 500 languages and language variations.
It allows the integration of machine translators, but it doesn’t allow linguists to upload their own term bases and translation memories, as this can only be done by project managers.
Furthermore, different user reviews state that Phrase sometimes tends to operate slower with bigger projects.
Are you new to CAT tools? Then you might be interested to learn about CAT tools in more detail in our article “What are CAT tools?”.
As a professional language service provider, we translate in over 100 languages and more than 800 language combinations. We are ISO 17100, ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and ISO 14001-certified and give great importance to quality – this is why we only work with native speakers.
Feel free to reach out to our experienced project managers, who are happy to help you with your next translation project. Contact us.