Building websites that are easy to translate

March 3rd, 2009 admin

Websites contain text and styling. As it turns out, the site’s styling determines how easy it will be to translate it.

When you build your site, it’s important to keep in mind that one day, you may need to translate it. This means that the same pages will have to display nicely when the text changes. I’d like to talk about a few problems that we see repeating. Understanding those problems amounts to 90% of the solution. The rest is common sense.

Images and Flash as text

I’ve already covered this issue before and I’m far from being the only one talking about it. While the W3 guidelines suggest supplying alternative texts for images, you can usually skip the images altogether and achieve the same visual design using just text and CSS. It may take a bit more effort, but the rewards are great.

When translating images, translators can only supply the text that needs to appear. Then, a graphic artist needs to rebuild all images to include the translation. It’s pretty obvious that this kind of work is much more time consuming (and prone to errors) than just translating text.

Fixed size elements

All too often, graphics designers like to set exact size for elements on the screen. It starts with fixed sizes for fonts and continues with exact width and height for boxes (DIVs, table cells, etc.). With some luck such a website would look the same on different browsers (although normally they don’t). However, once translated, things tend to break up completely.

German is typically 1.5 times longer than English. So, how would it be possible to squeeze in more characters to the exact same area?

What happens with such formatting is that text spills out, boxes run over each other and nothing looks as is should. To avoid it, always go for flexible layouts. Keep objects positioned relative to each other and not in absolute locations. Never assume any relation between the size of text and images and never use cell height.

Then, test. Try your website with a different font size and see what happens. If you can increase the size by at least 50% and then reduce it by at least 50% and things still display correctly, you’re in good shape.

Sentences that are broken by HTML entities

Consider this paragraph:

“Trucks are larger than cars so they weigh more.”

It’s pretty easy to translate. Now, what happens if I put this into a table, like this one:

<table><tr><td>Trucks are larger than</td>
<td>cars so they weigh more.</td></tr></table>

What I did is take that one sentence and place it into two table rows. Maybe I did that because I tried to make the two parts of that sentence appear one below the other. Who knows?

The result is, I now have two sentence fragments to translate, each making very little sense by itself. Even worse is the translation might now fit so nicely into that structure that I arranged.

The solution is obvious. Just don’t do it. Use other means to style the page, just don’t force texts into this kind of structure.

Conclusions

Building a website that’s easy to translate is very simple. All that it takes is attention to the fact that text size may change. Running a simple experiment on your site before you have it translated can save a lot of time, money and stress.

Posted in Drupal, Website tips, WordPress | No Comments »

ICanLocalize Translator now free for non-profits

March 2nd, 2009 admin

ICanLocalize TranslatorICanLocalize Translator, the Drupal translation management tool, is now offered for free to non-profit organizations, to be used as a translation collaboration tool.

Many non-profit organizations build their website using open source content management systems. It’s not a surprise that leading open source projects, such as Ubuntu and government sites such as Recovery.org are powered by Drupal. Powerful features, ease of use and being free make it a great choice.

But, what happens when these sites need to speak several languages? It’s only natural to expect Recovery.gov to speak both English and Spanish. Canonical, offering Ubuntu with full localization to dozens of languages, might want to offer its website in more than just English.

Why do we see such popular sites only in English?

Translation is an ongoing task. As long as new contents are created and old contents update, translation must continue. The cost of managing the translation often exceeds the cost of doing the translation. While it’s possible to assign different translators and even whole teams of translators to work on a Drupal site, translation management often falls on the shoulders of a single admin – already overloaded with work.

ICanLocalize Translator is a Drupal module which solves this problem. It releases site admins from any management work due to translation. It checks which pages need to be translated from scratch and which pages need update. Then, it sends the right contents for translation. In essence, it allows running a multilingual Drupal site without spending any time managing translation.

Authors can write contents in their language and entire site’s translation is handled by the system.

Pricing options for commercial use

  1. Full turnkey solution costs just 0.07 USD per word. ICanLocalize provides the translators and makes the translation system available for no additional charge.
  2. Clients can use their own translators and pay 5 USD per page for using the system.

And now, ICanLocalize Translator is offered for free to non-profits!

We’ve just added a 3rd plan for using the translation system. ICanLocalize Translator is made 100% free to be used as a translation collaboration tool for non profit organizations.

We’re using open source tools to create and run our business and want to contribute something back. The least we can do is make our own translation tool available for free for the exact same organization who’s work has made it possible for us to built our service. We hope that many open source projects and the organizations running them would take advantage of this offer and make their websites accessible to the world.

How to take advantage of this offer?

Webmasters, marketing folks and anyone involved in running the website are encouraged to contact us. We’ll be more than happy to give a private tour of the system.

You can read more about it in drupal-translation.com, where we teach how to build a multilingual website using Drupal and how to use ICanLocalize Translator to automate the translation process.

Posted in Drupal, News, Website tips | No Comments »

New web-guide teaches how to build multilingual Drupal sites

February 10th, 2009 admin

Drupal Translation is a new online guide dedicated to teaching how to build multilingual sites with Drupal.

A resource for Drupal webmasters

Anyone building a multilingual site with Drupal could find something useful in Drupal Translation. It starts with the basics, including which modules to install and how to configure them and continues to more advanced material such as taxonomy and CCK translation.

What’s in the guide?

The i18n module modifies the site’s database structure and many of the admin pages. Its features are distributed across different sections, such as content administration, content entry and display setup. This guide will walk you through the multilingual features, explain the difference between various options and show how to set things up coherently.

In addition to the i18n module, Drupal Translation also introduces the ICanLocalize Translator module, which works together with i18n to facilitate the translation itself by sending contents to translators and storing translation results back in the Drupal database.

Drupal-Translation.com will always be ‘work in progress’

As Drupal and the localization modules update, so does Drupal Translation.

New, more advanced material is constantly added and contents update as new Drupal versions are released.

Available in English, German and Spanish

Drupal Translation itself is a Drupal site. Its multilingual contents are maintained using the i18n module and translation is being done using ICanLocalize Translator, which is currently available in Beta.

Posted in CMS, Drupal, Website tips | 1 Comment »

ICanLocalize Translator Drupal module available in Beta

January 27th, 2009 admin

First public release of ICanLocalize Translator offers seamless content translation, helping Drupal users run multilingual websites on auto-pilot.

If you’re running a multilingual Drupal website this new module can make your job much simpler. It will automatically send new and updated contents to translation and make sure that nothing breaks on the way.

How it works

Translation can be controlled from two places:

  • Every add/edit page will have a new section showing the translation status and allowing to send it to translation when published or saved.
  • A translation dashboard shows the translation status of all documents and allows sending batch translations.

When a document is sent to translation, its contents are sent to ICanLocalize. Translators use our translation system, translate the texts using a WYSIWYG editor but never touch the HTML.

When translation is complete, the translated HTML document is rebuilt and sent back to Drupal, where it’s stored as the translation for the original document.

Who’s translating?

If you already have your own translators, they can do the work using this module. You’ll get all the benefits of automating the translation process without any extra payment.

Of course, you can also assign translations to one of the professional translators from ICanLocalize. Translators write only in their native language. We only accept professional translators, who can supply a university degree in translation and have passed our internal qualifications program.

Maintaining high translation quality

Automation is great, but above all, translation must be accurate, fluent and culturally correct. To achieve this, multiple QA measures have been built into the system:

  • Website owners interview and select their translators. Although all translators working in our system are professional translators, some texts require special background in order to translate correctly. When a translator applies for a job, site owners can interview them in order to verify that the translator understands the essence and details of the site.
  • Translators only edit the text, not the formatting. Drupal documents contain text and formatting. The translators only translate the text, never touching the HTML. Our system extracts the texts making translation much faster and easier.
  • Translations are reviewed before uploading. Even the most gifted translators can overlook things. Our system requires translators to carefully review their work before uploading to your live site.
  • We encourage direct communication between site owners and translators. Translators have an open communication channel with website owners, where they can ask for clarifications about the text they’re translating.
  • Built in spell checking in multiple languages. Spell checking is a required step in the translation. Not only does it highlight errors during editing, but the translator must also manually approve any exception before submitting translations.

How do I get started?

There are a few things you need to do in order to have your Drupal site translated using ICanLocalize Translator:

  1. Download and install ICanLocalize Translator in your Drupal site (free).
  2. Open an account in ICanLocalize (free).
  3. Set up a translation project in your ICanLocalize account. A wizard will guide you through (free).
  4. Follow the configuration guide to setup the translation in your Drupal site.
  5. Start sending translation jobs. Payment is calculated per word, according to the rate which you’ve agreed to with the translators you’ve selected.

Need help?

Feel free to contact us. To report issues with the translation module or to request new features, visit the issue tracking page.

Posted in CMS, Drupal, News | No Comments »

Outsourcing Drupal Translation

September 17th, 2008 Amir

ICanLocalize is getting ready for full integration with Drupal, which will offer a solution for outsourcing all translation work for Drupal websites.

Updates

  1. the ICanLocalize Translator Drupal module is now available. Read the updated post or go to the getting started guide.
  2. Drupal Translation is our official guide for building multilingual Drupal sites. It teaches how to setup the Drupal’s i18n module and ICanLocalize Translator.

Drupal, a leading Content Management System, includes comprehensive support for running multi-lingual website. Multi-lingual support recently moved from being a component to Drupal core, making it a standard feature for any Drupal 6 install.

ICanLocalize is working on a solution that will allow complete offload of all language related work, so that writers and editors can concentrate on maintaining contents in their language, while other languages follow. This will include:

  • Translation for node contents.
  • Translation for blog entries.
  • Comment moderation.
  • Rapid translation for visitor contacts.
  • Translation for texts in themes.

Support for these functions will be available from within the Drupal interface via a module which ICanLocalize is now working on. The module will send new and updated contents to ICanLocalize, where it is translated by professional human translators and then gets posted back to the Drupal system.

This will allow running a multi-lingual website, based on Drupal, without hiring translators, without granting access to their CMS and with no fixed costs.

Costs are further reduced using ICanLocalize‘s translation system, which is being used for all website translation work. This system lets translators do website translation without spending time on any technical task. Cost for professional human translation is between 0.05USD to 0.09USD per word, depending on language pairs. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in CMS, Drupal | 1 Comment »