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Weekly Shorts | January 15, 2021

Business News, Geopolitics, Interpretation, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Multimedia Translation, Personalization and Design, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

Translation error says Spanish speakers don’t need vaccine

A localization error on the Virginia Department of Health’s website told Spanish speakers they don’t need coronavirus vaccines, according to Norfolk, Virginia newspaper The Virginian-Pilot. Medical students at George Mason University discovered the mistake, which may have stemmed from unclear source text: “Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory,” the paper reports.

TransPerfect opens Istanbul office

New York-based translation company TransPerfect has opened a new outpost in Istanbul, Turkey. N Can Okay will oversee the office, dealing primarily with talent recruitment, according to a company release.

Neural interpretation from TikTok?

ByteDance, the parent company of international social media platform TikTok, has gotten in the interpreting game, releasing an open source tool named NeurST: Neural Speech Translation Toolkit. Note this is a misnomer, as the tech does not translate written language — rather interprets verbal speech. Full code is available on collaboration portal GitHub.

Nieman Lab predicts non-English news

American journalism think tank The Nieman Lab anticipates the United States will see more non-English news content in 2021 as both translated and in-language reporting increase. “Additionally, we foresee more substantive and equitable partnerships developing between mainstream and ethnic media organizations,” write Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula.

ATA accepting conference proposals

The American Translators Association has issued its call for presentation proposals for the association’s October 27-30, 2021 conference. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota with virtual attendance options. Proposals are accepted through March 1.

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Smartling: Developing the Cloud Translation Experience

Blogos, Language Industry News and Events, Translation Technology

Smartling Logo

After meself and himself of Smartling met at the Websummit, I wanted to look at a forthcoming Smartling self-service offering suitable for software developers. When Jack Welde (@jwelde) (i.e., himself) gave me the nod, I got to it, taking the opportunity to reflect on the developer experience and enterprise translation, generally.

Offering translation “as a service” for developers faces two related issues: how to make it easy for busy developers to get stuff translated without disrupting their core activity, and how to build a business model out of all that. My main concern is the developer experience, but it’s obvious the Smartling startup puck is heading towards the enterprise.

Exploring Smartling

Smartling is a rising star, with 65 million USD in funding; regarded as the industry disruptor to watch in 2015.

Smartling packs a REST-like API to integrate with, and connect to, development environments for software resources of all sorts, web-based content, documentation, and so on. From a developer perspective, a PaaS ability to use APIs to hook up translation to IDEs, dev environments and source control systems, is a must-have feature. Eliminating on-premise hardware and consulting set up time offers more ROI and productivity.

It was easy for me to get going in the Smartling browser-based UI, uploading a Java properties file, and exploring the features.

Smartling uses a very cool Context Capture API to associate visual context to HTML content for translation. Connecting a rendered UI to translatable resource string IDs (offering a preview of the translation into the bargain) makes for a better final deliverable. Behind-the-firewall HTML content can be similarly contextualized using the Chrome Context Capture extension.

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Previewable source and target strings shown in context during translation

Externalization of content from code is key to having developers on your side. Most IDE and file formats have i18n/L10n support to abstract away translation risk, so Smartling has a great baseline to enable quality translation and development productivity alike, the translator UI protecting valuable coding goodness from damage during the source-to-target language change.

Smartling provides automatic extraction of a glossary for review, a way to include style guidance, and offers features in the translator UI to define and move about patternized placeables, dashboard reporting, and so on. Mucho flexibility, if you need it.

Extracted glossary entries

Extracted glossary entries

Smartling also enables customization of the translation workflow to suit business needs. For example, different translation workflow steps might be tailored to involve particular stakeholders before the translation is finalized (enterprise stakeholders, beyond end users, are that “political third rail”; forgotten with disastrous results).

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

Easy customization of translation workflow steps

I conjured up my own translations, but Smarting integrates with human and machine translation for a quality result.

What developers care about is a productivity solution in the cloud that resonates with their world of work, and that worked for me. I liked the Smartling approach. It was easy to set up, to integrate into processes, to see stuff translated in context, and to get valid translated files back for the build or deployment stage.

Understanding Developers

The “translation as a service” model is not new. GitHub, APIs, Python, Ruby, Node.Js, PaaS, and so on, are now standard parts of the developer lexicon. Yet, the localization industry continues to play catch up with developer community happenings, whether they be FOSS-based or corporate.

Developers are not translators, and don’t want to be. Empathizing with the developers’ world is the foundation for ideating together on smart solutions. Smartling has already done some awesome developer outreach such as the LinguaHack event in Kiev (others, please take note).

LinguaHack 2014 from Smartling on Vimeo. Click to launch.

Smartling LinguaHack Hackathon in Kiev, 2014

So, Smartling looks like a fine solution from the developer perspective; one for builders to get apps, websites and documentation translated easily and out there into the global market. It is, of course, an on-going story.

Smartling nails the notion that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to translation for developers, and from my explorations the solution hits the mark with cloud-based developer productivity and usability.

To use all Smartling features optimally is really an enterprise-level undertaking. Developers will never rush to attach contextual images or add descriptive notes to strings. Reviewing glossary extractions, creating translated terminology, and so on, are not developer competencies. Such things require a team: localization managers, translation coordinators, terminologists, information professionals, and others working further upstream in the software development lifecycle.

Enterprising Solutions

Enterprise translation requirements now go far beyond app resources, HTML sites, and documentation. It’s a complex business, and comes with critical performance, scalability and security prerequisites. Sure, it’s unglamorous, but as Oscar Wilde says, it’s better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

Enterprises need to see real ROI and have incentives to move from current solutions. This is true of on-premise to SaaS adoption generally; there are other constraints too. Like user experience generally, making that decision “depends”.

So, I’ll be watching where that enterprise translation puck goes in 2015 for Smartling, and for others.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Transifex: A Language Developers Understand

Language in Business, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

I’m hearing great things from software professionals about Transifex, a SaaS translation solution based in Silicon Valley.  As I work in user experience developer relations, I Skyped in Dimitris Glezos (@glezos), Transifex founder and Chief Ninja, in Greece to find out more.

Dimitris’s background is in software development, Transifex originating as an open source project. The passions and principles of the FOSS development community, collaborating on a cloud-based platform, remain true today. Transifex knows how developers work in the cloud, and provides a user experience that makes sense to a world of GitHub, PaaS, Python gettext, RESTful APIs, Ruby, SaaS, and so on. Transifex has even been referred to as “the GitHub of software translation“, which is some accolade in the development community!

Transifex API enables integration of software development workflows and tools in the cloud.

Transifex API enables integration of software development workflows and tools in the cloud.

The Transifex user community now has more than 100,000 developers and translators, working together on over 10,000 projects. Transifex users range from well-known enterprises to tech startups and the open-source community. Transifex can quietly boast of a diverse portfolio of successful translation projects ranging from hundreds millions of words of online courseware to strings for wearables and apps. A testament that Transifex is not a “one size fits all” model, what is really staggering about such a breadth of achievements is that it happened without Transifex having a single sales person, or offering those LSP-style “services”.

The Transifex platform is development friendly and flexible, tooling up small pockets of remote developers to build iterative, dynamic content using 24/7 workflows and lean software methodologies.  Exceling with the detection of string changes and merging, Transifex is easily integrated into development environments through an API and command line interface.  Transifex works upstream too, a string pseudo-translation capability enables developers to test their internationalization chops before starting translation.

Transifex translators use a browser-based online editor. This user experience packs CAT capabilities, support for glossaries, collaborative tools, screenshot preview for context, and other cool features. Translation projects are overseen in a contemporary online dashboard experience (it’s translated, too).

Transifex user dashboard view.

Transifex user dashboard view.

The  editor supports the major file types (including XLIFF and “TMX), has built-in QA for code variables in strings, enables character limits to be set, handles singular and plural variants, and makes it easy for developers and translators to work together.

Transifex online translation editor.

Transifex online translation editor user interface.

“It’s translation the way developers want it, or the way they would have built it themselves”, says Dimitris. Most large companies have figured out a translation process, but many now innovate rapidly with small teams using agile frameworks and don’t want to build their own translation infrastructure. Developers are busy people who like to be productive,  solving code problems using smart reusable solutions, and don’t need extra work. “It isn’t easy to build a translation process”, says Dimitris, “Instead, Transifex is integrated into existing development tools and workflows”.

The Transifex success is based on an understanding of developers and translators and how they work, keeping both these users at the center of the user experience. An easy to use solution that seamlessly matches development processes and work styles with a community of online translators generates a powerful networking effect of kudos from satisfied users, who share their positive experiences with others.

“If developers love it, they talk about it!” says Dimitris. That’s the sort of organically-generated  customer experience that most can only aspire to, and money alone cannot buy. There are powerful lessons from Transifex  about how software development teams and translators can work well together, not least of which is “know your users”.

The Transifex story continues to unfold, and you can find out more about building international products using a SaaS platform in the case studies on the Transifex website.

If you have other examples of cloud-based integrations of translation and software development teams, please  share them in the comments.

Tags:, , , , , , , , , , ,
+ posts

Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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