Better Approaches to Managing Translation with Technology



July 19, 2007

I got a call from a translation company the other day because they were looking to contract someone for some PHP development work. We got started talking about some of the work that they were doing, but also some of the opportunities to use content management tools to automate the process, and reduce the costs for high quality professional translations.We began looking at something like this a few years ago when we were setting up a newsletter tool for a branch of Environment Canada. They were interested in streamlining the process so that they could produce their own publications more quickly. The process that we were developing for them was customized such that when new content is added and approved, it can be immediately sent off to the translation company. Using the Drupal actions/workflow module this can now be pretty easily achieved. A designated translator would receive a link to the appropriate page and could then login to the site and enter in the translation for the article in question. This would be important for a Government of Canada website, as only when the translation has been approved can either version appear on the website. This would allow organizations to easily track which documents still need to be translated and also when they were sent to translation. The system could be set up to automatically count the number of words (in English & French), and produce a monthly summary of translations. We could also set up Drupal such that translators do not each need a unique username/password, but rather have the opportunity to use a url key to access the translation page a limited number of times. It might also be beneficial to allow users to display the english/french pages side by side. This part of the system would be pretty neat, but ultimately wouldn't do much to save our clients any money over what they are doing now. Where cost savings would be seen however is when a document has already been translated, but a paragraph has been modified in the original text. In many cases now the whole document may be sent out for translation rather than just the change itself. Example of a diff view of this pageDrupal's version & diff tools allow you to much more precisely see the changes that have been made and place them in context. By passing along the changed text in the context of the whole text translators can more easily make the appropriate changes. We could develop a translation interface that would allow translators to only modify the changed text.If these tools would be beneficial for your organization please contact us and we will work with you to set up a translation management system that works for your organization and your translation team.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.