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Maintenance window today — 9PM-9.20PM GMT+1

Posted by Edouard on May 4, 2010

If you use Web Translate It extensively you might have noticed a few error pages yesterday, when loading pages or saving strings.

The reason of these errors is that the database server is sometimes overloaded and crashes at peak time.

I take this problem very seriously, and in fact I think most of the issues are now fixed. I tuned the database server, pushed some important optimisations that will make the service much more reliable than yesterday. I will carry on working on optimising the service today.

Tonight I will also upgrade Web Translate It’s hardware, which will require to reboot the server. Rebooting the server should take less than 5 minutes, and the service should be completely operational a few minutes after that. Therefore I reserve a window of 20 minutes downtime tonight from 9PM to 9.20PM GMT+1.

I apologise for the short notice and for the inconvenience this downtime will cause, but this downtime will be very short and make the service a lot more reliable.

EDIT: The maintenance went well. The service was down for about 4 minutes, according to Pingdom, and it took another 5 minutes to restart the workers and search engine before the service was 100%.

I upgraded Web Translate It’s slice memory from 1.2GB to 1.5GB, and I increased the database cache. Some indexes were corrupted due to the crashing, so I also rebuilt the indexes.

Introducing Matt Hillman

Posted by Edouard on February 26, 2010

I am really happy to announce that starting today, Matt Hillman joins Atelier Convivialité on a part-time basis. He will work on developing Web Translate It product’s awareness.

Matt is british and moved two years ago from London to the west coast of Sweden. Prior to that, Matt used to play drums in a band and was working for the music team at Last.fm and later on for the marketing team at Record Union.

I am really glad to have Matt onboard. Welcome, Matt!

Sniff and propose, don’t impose

Posted by Edouard on February 25, 2010

Two weeks ago I soft-launched the french version of Web Translate It, you can visit at webtranslateit.com/fr.

While working on it, I remembered a nifty technique used to propose a localised version of a website to the user. I really like this technique and I thought I should share it here.

There are usually two different techniques to serve a localized version of your service to your users.

IP sniffing

The first is a redirection based on IP sniffing, used notably by Google. I don’t really like this solution, because if you browse google.com from Japan, you will get the website in Japanese, which is not so great if you don’t know any Japanese.

It breaks the assumption that one URL equals one website, and not different sites depending on where you are, but it also makes the service unusable to people travelling abroad.

Web browser sniffing

A better solution is browser sniffing. It is about reading a list of preferred languages from the headers sent by the web browser.

Many services use this to redirect you to their available localised services. This is a really good solution, used notably by Facebook.

There is just one downside, though: it is a bit too magical for the end-user. Nobody knows about this browser language preference and many people think this automatic redirection is a bug. Most users don’t understand why a such redirection happens.

Sniff and propose, but don’t impose

So I rediscovered (1) another technique using browser sniffing to propose the user a localised version. I think this is the right way to go and it won’t pester anyone.

If a French user browse Web Translate It in English, she will see a clickable ribbon in the corner saying “Hey! Web Translate It is also available in French!” in French.

When the user clicks the ribbon, it sends her to the French version of Web Translate It.

Now this is what a user with browser settings set to something else than French will see when browsing the french version of Web Translate It:

This is easily extendable. If a russian version was available and a russian user browse the French site, a russian ribbon would propose her to browse the russian website.

I am really happy with this solution, and it is also a bit simpler to implement than the other solutions. Sure, it is one extra step to the user, but it is a step that makes people actually understand what is going on. One more click, much less confusion.


[1] The first and only time I saw it was when Last.fm launched its international sites. When browsing Last.fm with a French web-browser, a frame saying “Your browser speaks French. Do you?” was appearing. As far as I remember, it was really much appreciated by the users.

Awesome plans update

Posted by Edouard on February 23, 2010

I am really excited to announce a really nice update to Web Translate It’s plans, and I am reasonably sure everyone will appreciate it.

One common remark made to the current price grid is that there is a huge gap between the Free plan and the Medium plan starting at 39€ a month for 2,000 strings. Also, 39€ per month is quite a lot of money for starting businesses, especially when converted into dollars (that’s currently $53).

I thought I should try to do something about that.

Introducing the Small plan

I just added a new plan: Small. Small is affordable: it costs 14€ per month (that’s just $19) and can hold up to 1,500 strings. It’s a great deal as it has almost the same capacity that used to offer the Medium plan at 39€ per month.

Small is a great plan at a fantastic price tailored for start-ups working a middle-sized application.

Increased capacity for all plans

The price remains unchanged for all other plans, but to mark the difference with the new Small plan I increased the string limit for all plans.

The medium plan now offers 4,000 strings instead of 2,000 and the Large plan now offers 8,000 strings instead of 6,000.

No action is required on your side in order to obtain the new capacity: if you subscribed to a Medium or Large plan, you already have it. You can check your new capacity on the “Organisation” page.

Limited Extra-Large plan

Finally, the Extra Large plan, which used to be unlimited, is now limited to 60,000 strings. That’s quite a lot. If you ever reach that limit, please get in touch with me so we can talk about a custom solution.

I am thrilled by this announcement, and a lot of work has been made under the hood to make Web Translate It more affordable.

I will have more exciting news to announce soon, so stay tuned and follow @webtranslateit on twitter, or subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed. Thank you for using Web Translate It, the web’s easiest translation tool.