Like many other open source software-using translators, I was really excited when Wordfast announced that it was releasing a platform-independent translation environment tool, Wordfast Pro. OmegaT is my tool of choice, but when a client wants Trados-style uncleaned files, I often find it easier to work in Wordfast than to create the uncleaned files from OmegaT’s output. For years, I’ve run the original Wordfast (now called “Wordfast Classic”) on my Linux system by running CrossOver Linux and then Microsoft Office. This solution works, but it’s a little clunky since it takes a lot of memory and since it requires upgrading three pieces of software (and in my case, I never use Microsoft Office unless I’m working in Wordfast since OmegaT supports the OpenDocument format).
Alas, the Linux-specific version of Wordfast Pro has what is in my opinion a serious dependency flaw; it cannot work with Word format files that are created or saved in a program other than MS Word. So if you, like me, use the free and open source office suite OpenOffice.org to create and/or edit files in MS Word format, you’re out of luck with Wordfast Pro, since it will tell you that your Word format documents are “not in a supported format.” Wordfast support confirmed this, when they told me that “…any .doc files not saved with MS Word 98-03 will not open in Wordfast. OpenOffice makes a slight change to the composition of the file and we are working on resolving that.” Unfortunately this makes Wordfast Pro essentially unusable by translators like myself who run OpenOffice exclusively and do not use MS Office.
In the past, the Wordfast team has been very supportive of translators who run their software on Linux, and I do really appreciate that they have released a Linux-specific version of their program (which installs and opens just fine on my Ubuntu system). However, I feel that selling a Linux-specific program that depends on a piece of non-free software (and not publicizing that dependency) is a little misleading; in my case, my reason for purchasing the Wordfast Pro upgrade was so that I would no longer have to run CrossOver Linux and MS Office and could use a version of Wordfast that runs natively on Linux. Hopefully this issue will be resolved in the near future, for now I’m back on OmegaT!