Connectors: streamlining translation processes
Did you know that 2.4 million Google searches are conducted every minute? Did you know that 90% of the world’s digital content was created in the last two years? Did you know that 72% of consumers prefer to spend time on websites in their own language?
But what does all this mean for your organisation? Well, the response is two-fold:
- time is of the essence, and
- language and culture are essential for successful international business.
In order to stay ahead of the competition, and position your company as an industry leader, it is more important than ever to keep your international website updated with high-quality, localised content tailored to each of your target markets. That’s all well and good, but if you do not have the processes in place to streamline and automate those laborious manual tasks then you will run the risk of losing the race to your competitors.
In this guide, we introduce translation connectors and other tools which can help you and your language service provider to keep your websites updated regularly, efficiently and in almost real-time. Let’s start by looking at all the pieces of the puzzle you need to start automating…
What systems need to be connected?
Depending on the nature of your business, there are a few systems that are utilised to manage localisable content. When it comes to website localisation we’re obviously going to be talking about the content management system (CMS) you are using to host all of your content, but for eCommerce sites, there are also inventory systems, product information management (PIM) systems, checkout and payment systems, etcetera.
It might be straightforward enough to get these systems to talk to each other in your home market, and native language, but, in our experience, when you start to think about localising all of this content for a new overseas market the systems tend not to be created with translation in mind. This is where cracks can start to appear in the process.
In these situations a translation management system (TMS) needs to be utilised; either by your trusted translation partner or your in-house translation team. Built with translation memory at the core, TMSs allow project managers, linguists and end-clients to request, monitor, complete and deliver translation projects from within a single, secure platform, removing the need for email communication.
Most TMSs have been developed to allow for the automation of manual, repetitive tasks allowing projects to be handled in a quicker and more efficient way, which is of particular benefit for regular website updates.
How do we connect these systems?
According to one of our technology partners, iLangL, there are four logical components that are needed to build that all-important connection:
- Portal (for end-client)
Without going into an overly complicated description of these components, the main thing to know at this stage is that the safe and secure transfer of data between systems relies on an application programming interface aka an API.
A basic connection might look something like this…
The challenge here is identifying the right API and connection points for the end-client, based on their localisation needs.
Currently, there is no one-size-fits-all API that can be used to connect all the pieces of our puzzle and deliver a seamless continuous delivery process that can be quickly and easily deployed. In fact, there have been several failed attempts at standardising an API that can be utilised by key stakeholders in the localisation process. These abandoned attempts, however, have inspired the development of the Translation API Cases and Classes (TAPICC) initiative, in conjunction with the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA).
What is TAPICC and how will it help me?
TAPICC was established in 2016 as an on-going initiative that would see language service professionals, technology providers, and end-clients collaborating on the design and production of an open-API framework to standardise the data and process through which content is transferred into the translation process – from any system possible.
The TAPICC team are about half-way through the four-track project plan, which has taken around two and a half years to complete. The speed at which the teams are working is at a much faster pace than the previous attempts at standardising an API, but there is still a little way to go.
Once the initiative reaches its end, the open-API framework will come with a set of clearly defined instructions which can be used by any developer and adapted slightly to meet the requirements of the connection to be established. Amongst other things, this will result in minimal costs for development, a standardised process, a set of defined components, and a greater understanding of the localisation industry for stakeholders outside the sector.
So, TAPICC is going to take time, where can I find the right connector for me now?
The first place to start is to open up a dialogue with your current translation partner or start asking potential providers about their automation and connectivity solutions.
The larger language service providers often have whole teams/business units dedicated to developing technology solutions for their clients. These companies will usually have a back-catalogue of translation connectors that have already been built and that can be configured to suit the structure of the systems and databases to which they need to connect.
There are also middleware providers, like iLangL, who are able to establish a connection between a specific TMS and a system at the client’s end, using their own tool or platform as the middle-man. This is a scalable solution for small to medium-sized businesses who would prefer to continue working with their existing translation vendor and simply need someone impartial to connect the dots.
Localisation industry market researchers Nimdzi Insights have dedicated an incredible amount of time developing their Language Technology Atlas. You can see in the image below that there are a huge amount of systems currently on the market that can help to improve the localisation cycle. They have also created TMS and API comparison tools that help end-users to educate themselves on the options available to them currently. If you would like to learn more about translation technology then I would highly recommend Nimdzi’s resources.
How much is all this going to cost?
How long is a piece of string? Unfortunately, since all CMSs and websites are different there will always be a cost attached to the development and/or configuration activities needed to connect and synchronise the systems required.
In our experience, there are two common scenarios:
- Re-configure existing connector ($ – $$)
- Develop brand new connector ($$$ – $$$$)
For the most popular CMSs – WordPress, Drupal, Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, etcetera – there are already quite a few pre-built translation connectors on the market from both big LSPs and middleware providers. Since the bulk of the development has already been done, the costs to configure the connector to the internal structure of your system(s) will be lower than building a brand new connector from scratch.
A word of warning here. Should you already, or choose to, work with one of the big players in the translation industry, and who haven’t already built a connector to your chosen CMS or system, then their usual approach is to charge you a huge amount (£10,000+) to build the connector, which they can then sell on to other existing and potential clients. Bear this in mind, as I am sure that you don’t want to end up footing the bill for a product that your vendor can then generate new revenue from.
If your translation workflow still comprises of those boring, time consuming, manual tasks, like copy-pasting content from your CMS to send for translation, then you need to sit down and really evaluate the process with your current vendor.
Discuss with them the options available to streamline and automate the workflow to make it easier and more manageable for your team and theirs. At the end of the day, the less time your project manager has to spend liaising with the translators, the more time they can dedicate to your globalisation strategy and continually improving your localisation processes.
If you’re not sure where to start then it might be worth reaching out to an independent consultant who can evaluate your current situation and recommend alternatives, improvements and potential technology providers, from an impartial perspective.
If you’re not quite at this stage in the process why not take a look at our Ultimate Website Translation Checklist to help you get started.
Compton, J., Filip, D., Fleischmann, K., Gladkoff, S. and Husarčík, J. (2018). Stop Reinventing the Wheel! The TAPICC Pre-Standardization Initiative for Translation APIs. [online] Globalization and Localization Association. Available at: https://www.gala-global.org/ondemand/stop-reinventing-wheel-tapicc-pre-standardization-initiative-translation-apis [Accessed 19 July 2019]
Nimdzi (2019). Language Technology Atlas 2019. [online] Nimdzi. Available at: https://www.nimdzi.com/language-technology-atlas-2019/ [Accessed 19 July 2019]