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A Comparison of the 15 Best Translation Management Systems

November 9, 2021
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What’s the best translation management system (TMS) for you? It’s hard to know how to compare TMSs when so many different systems are on the market.
A major challenge that global companies have when using a TMS is that the tool itself is only a small part of the story. You need a significant amount of expertise and skills to use a TMS effectively. Without this, the tool could end up as an expensive mistake.
Even so, if you need to adopt a TMS into your business, there are a lot of options available on the market.
Here’s a rundown of the top 15 translation management systems that you are likely to come across. They each contain variations on the usual features of a TMS.
We’ve listed them in alphabetical order.

1. Crowdin

Crowdin is targeted specifically at technology companies and software developers. Therefore it is a good choice for software localization.
It only has a web interface and is available as either a public cloud or public cloud service. It contains all the usual features of a TMS such as translation memories, glossaries, workflow editors, and quality assurance tools.

2. GlobalLink

GlobalLink is an enterprise TMS that started as a support tool and then grew into a full software suite. It contains all the usual features of a TMS. It also supports large files of over 1 Gb, which not all TMSs do.
It offers both an installable version and a web interface and is available for either public/private cloud or on-premises deployment.
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3. Lilt

Lilt is a TMS platform tied to a particular translation provider, as is the case with a few translation tools. This can be useful if you use that provider and are committed to using that provider forever… but it can be problematic if you were to want to switch providers at any point.

4. Lokalise

Lokalise is primarily an app localization platform aimed specifically at agile teams. It comes with hooks into various SDKs including PHP, Node.js, and iOS.
It is only available in a public cloud deployment and only has a web interface. This can be an issue if your company prefers to keep computer systems on-premises for security reasons.

5. MemoQ

MemoQ is a popular TMS that is compatible with a range of popular CAT tools. Its workflow and vendor management features aren’t as extensive as other TMSs though it has a useful feature of having temporary licenses you can issue to translators.
It offers both an installable version for Windows only and a web interface and is available for either public/private cloud or on-premises deployment.

6. Memsource

Memsource is another popular TMS. As well as the usual features of a TMS, its full-featured mobile editor is an interesting addition. Like MemoQ, its workflow and vendor management features are quite limited, but its customer portal has an impressive range of features.
It is only available in a public cloud deployment but its translation editor does have extensive support for all operating systems.

7. Phrase

Phrase is aimed primarily at website and mobile app localization. It is focused on agile continuous localization and includes a variety of SDK integrations, including Android, iOS, Kotlin, and Python. Its range of quality assurance features isn’t as extensive as other tools.
It is available for either a public cloud or on-premises deployment and only has a web interface.

8. POEditor

POEditor is another TMS specifically targeted at software development. As well as the usual TMS features, it has integrations into systems like GitHub, Bitbucket, and Azure DevOps (which you can also find in some other tools). It doesn’t support workflow or vendor management.
It is only available in a public cloud deployment and only has a web interface.

9. RWS SDL TMSs

It’s fair to say that RWS (formerly SDL) is the leader in translation software. They offer a few different TMS software packages, including WorldServer, SDL TMS, and LanguageCloud.
SDL Worldserver is the TMS we use at Rubric. This is not to say it’s the best and it requires quite a high skill level to use effectively, but we like that it can be fully customized to meet the needs of our clients.
It offers both an installable version for Windows only and a web interface and is available for either public/private cloud or on-premises deployment.

10. SmartCat

SmartCat started its life as an in-house CAT tool. However, over the years it has added TMS functionalities. One core feature is its open marketplace of freelance translators and has a wider range of vendor management features than other TMSs.
It offers both an installable version for all the major operating systems, a web interface, and is available for either public or private cloud deployment.

11. Smartling

Smartling is a cloud-based TMS with automation and analytics features. Its integrations support a range of Content Management Systems including Drupal, ContentStack, and WordPress. One of its headline features is its website analytics which allows users to monitor the performance of their translated website in the tool itself.
It offers a web tool and cloud-based deployment.

12. Transifex

Transifex is a javascript-based TMS targeted at website localization. It is designed for continuous localization and supports many of the usual TMS features. Its workflow management features are quite extensive compared to some other tools, though it doesn’t offer much in the way of vendor management.
It is only available as a public cloud deployment with a web editor.
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13. Weblate

Weblate is a web-based localization tool targeted at continuous localization for software projects. It is more of a CAT tool than a TMS but does include some translation management features. It also includes various features for software localization such as branch support of translations.
It is available as a self-hosted or cloud deployment.

14. WordBee

WordBee was one of the first native cloud-based TMSs when it was launched in 2008. It has a range of the usual TMS features including project management and vendor management. The company also offers a middleware tool that can connect content systems to other TMSs.
It is available as a public/private cloud or on-premises deployment and only has a web editor.

15. XTM Cloud

XTM Cloud is a primarily cloud-based system with the usual range of TMS features. In particular, it has an extensive range of quality assurance and terminology management features.
It is available as a public/private cloud or on-premises deployment and has either a Windows or an Android editor.
Cloud deployment On Premises? Editor
CrowdIn Public or private No Web only
GlobalLink Public or private Yes Installable and web
Lilt Cloud deployment No Web only
Lokalise Public cloud only No Web only
MemoQ Public or private Yes Windows installable and web
Memsource Public cloud only No All major operating systems
Phrase Public cloud Yes Web only
POEditor Public cloud only No Web only
RWS Worldserver Public or private Yes Windows installable and web
SmartCat Public or private No All major operating systems and web
Smartling Cloud deployment No Web only
Transifex Public cloud only No Web only
Weblate Cloud deployment Yes Web only
WordBee Public or private Yes Web only
XTM Cloud Public or private Yes Windows or Android
Which of these 15 TMSs should you choose?
Remember that your choice of tool is only part of the story.
The most amount of work and effort will come with managing that tool effectively in your business. This management takes a considerable amount of skill and experience using such tools.
If you aren’t sure which TMS features your global business will need, just get in contact with one of our strategists and we will gladly help you out.