CAT Tools: Welcome to the cloud-based (r)evolution


The speedy constant technological metamorphosis that we are experiencing from the end of the 20th Century permeates every layer of our lives, from our social relationships to the way we study, travel or even interact with our closest family members. One of the scenarios where this technology evolution is more obvious is that of work. From the management of large companies to the organisation of small freelance desks, computers, gagdets and software have become essential tools that have led us to change the way in which we work. Heriot-Watt University Lecturer Ramón Inglada shares with us some thoughts about one of the current revolutions that is changing the way translators operate: the cloud-based (r)evolution!

CAT tools revolution banner

Cloud computing, or the ability to store and access data and programs over the Internet instead of locally on your computer’s hard drive, has fundamentally changed the way IT resources are used in many industries. Although this technology is not perfect and there are some risks associated with it, we have quickly become accustomed to the convenience of checking our email from anywhere, storing our files in the cloud, and creating complex text files and spreadsheets without having to use expensive software.

The area of translation technology, and more specifically computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, has not been immune to this fundamental shift. There are several examples of feature-rich cloud-based CAT tools already available and even the developer of the market-leading desktop-based translation memory system now offers a web version.

In this excellent article, translation technology expert Uwe Muegge describes some of the advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based translation memory systems.

These are some of benefits associated to these tools:

  • No need to install any application.
  • Software is always updated (something that can be critically important).
  • Cross-platform compatibility (PC, Mac, mobile devices).
  • Ease of access and enhanced collaboration.
  • Low cost.

Let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks now:

  • Constant, good quality Internet connectivity is essential.
  • Privacy and confidentiality issues (arguably, the main risk generally associated to these platforms).
  • Control over and ownership of linguistic assets (translated texts, translation memories, glossaries).

Muegge concludes that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. However, not all translators agree and some are not ready to embrace this technology. Some translation companies are reluctant too. What are your views? Do you believe that cloud computing has revolutionised the translation industry? Do you agree that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Can you think of any other benefits or drawbacks? Do you use cloud-based CAT tools?

Ramon Inglada_Profile PicWritten by Ramón Inglada, Translator and Lecturer at Heriot-Watt University (Scotland). Ramón Inglada has been a professional translator since 2002. He has also been working as a university lecturer since 2012, teaching a wide range of courses, including English into Spanish Translation, Translation Technologies and Software Localisation.

Post prepared by Doris Fernandes del Pozo – Journalist, Translator-Interpreter and Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament. She is pursuing a PhD as part of the Communication and Contemporary Information Programme of the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

Disclaimer_External contributions to blog


  • BBC News (2017), “Massive ransomware infection hits computers in 99 countries”. Available at: (Accessed 23 May 2017)
  • Investopedia (n.d.) Cloud Computing. Available at: (Accessed 23 May 2017)
  • Manchester, Josh (2013) “Software Revolution, Part II: The Shift to Cloud Computing”, Forbes. Available at: (Accessed 24 May 2017)
  • Muegge, Uwe (2012) “The silent revolution: Cloud-based translation memory systems”, TC-World. Available at: (Accessed 23 May 2017)
  • Muegge, Uwe (n.d.) About the author. Available at: (Accessed 23 May 2017)
  • SDL (n.d.) Research Study 2016: Translation Technology Insights Executive Summary, 13-14. Available at: (Accessed 24 May 2017)
  • SDL Online Translation Editor. Available at: (Accessed 24 May 2017)
  • Wordfast Anywhere. Available at: (Accessed 24 May 2017)