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New in Web Translate It: new stats, Markdown help

Posted by Edouard on January 2, 2010

Happy new year! Here are a bunch of improvements for 2010.

Statistics

This is not really a new feature, but rather a different way of calculating statistics. Instead of processing them on every page load and asking you to wait a few seconds until it loads, stats calculation is deferred and calculated in the background. This is the same system used for the language file importer/exporter and the search engine’s indexer.

Since you don’t have to wait for the stats calculations to finish, the pages load much faster. You will sometimes see a notice indicating the stats are not up to date.

Web Translate It will then bring the stats up to date and automatically display them when available. It usually takes less than two seconds.

The filters and the stats section on the top of the translation interface have been redesigned to be clearer and easier to use.

This improvement is the first part of an upcoming new feature: project reporting. With reporting, you will be able to get detailed stats about your project over time. This requires the ability to generate costly statistics without making the website slower.

On top of the statistics improvements, many other tweaks have been done to make the translation interface load faster.

Progress bars on language page

The language page now has a progress bar indicating the percentage of completed and translated strings for that project. Of course, it also use deferred calculations.

Better Markdown help

Comments on Web Translate It are formatted using Markdown, an easy to use markup language. The help section about Markdown was very poor. You now have a decent help page for helping you to write better comments.

I open-sourced it if you need this help page on your own project.

That’s it! I hope you will enjoy these improvements, thank you for using Web Translate It!

Coming up in 2010

Posted by Edouard on December 18, 2009

Web Translate It is now on feature freeze. What I am currently working on right now is too big to be finished before the Christmas break. So that’s it for 2009!

What’s coming up next?

In the near future (January 2010), I will focus on enhancing existing feature. The stats and the API will be updated.

Stats

The new stats will be able to count strings, words, and keep a daily history. You will also be able to generate nice graphs displaying the amount of strings and words per language over time.

To make this work smoothly, some work has to be done under the hood. Calculations have to be deferred instead of being made again and again for every page load. This will use once again the same technology than the file import/export workers that proved to work really well. About 30% of Web Translate It’s calculations currently take place in the background.

The advantage is that not only you will have more detailed stats, but the pages using stats will load faster.

New API

The current API works really well, but doesn’t allow you to fetch a specific language file. This is a problem if you have several language files in your project.

The new API will allow you do just that. Although not advertised anywhere, it is actually already in production and used by some customers.

The API will also allow you to upload an update for a translation file. You could for example set up a periodic task on your server to update your translation files on Web Translate It nightly.

The Web Translate It plugin for Ruby on Rails 2.3 will also be updated to integrate these changes.

Crowdsourced translations

By the end of January, I will tackle crowdsourced translations.

I will chunk this large feature into several, simple iterations. For the first iteration I will focus on working a very simple, yet fully functional crowdsourcing interface.

  • Your own user community will be able to request for a translator account. I will implement login by OpenID to make it easier for everyone to register.
  • You will be able to accept or refuse these requests.
  • Your community will be able to suggest new translations or vote for existing translations.
  • You will be able to make the interface visible publicly or not.
  • You will be able to choose among 3 different translation strategies for each language. For example:
    • Traditional: let professional translators translate that language.
    • Half Crowdsourcing: Let your users translate and suggest translations, and hire professional translators to proofread their translations. You save a fair share of the translation cost, while having high quality translations.
    • Full Crowdsourcing: Let your users translate and vote to decide which translations will go live. It can work very well if you have a huge user community for that language. It usually doesn’t work so well for smaller user communities.

That’s pretty much everything I have planned for now.

I wish you a pleasant holiday, see you in 2010!

Web Translate It survey result

Posted by Edouard on December 16, 2009

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please take the survey. It’s always good to get your voice heard, and I always consider all of your suggestions.

The results have been incredibly useful. Thank you everyone!

Appreciation Rating

Everyone who took the survey think Web Translate It’s service and support is good: 100% of you would recommend it. This is fantastic, I am glad you appreciate it, and thanks for all the kind words in the survey, I appreciate that :)

Pricing

When it comes to pricing, the answers depend on whether the interviewee is a developer or a translator.

Translation agencies, translators and large websites find the price well adjusted. Translation agencies use Web Translate It quite a lot, so the ratio time/monthly price is fair.

Development agencies and freelance developers think Web Translate It a bit pricey. I understand it just “doesn’t worth it”. The entry level is 39€/month, this is a big cost for a freelance developer or a small development agency for something you don’t need all the time.

I want to fix this. I will get back to this topic later in this post.

Features

This is not very surprising, the most wanted features also differ from the interviewee’s job. Everyone want features to make their work easier.

Developers want integration to a Version Control System, a better API (to upload files), the ability to attach files and images to comments and have a term base.

Translation agencies would rather have better translation tools: Search and replace comes first, the ability to branch translations and a have translation memory.

It helped me establishing my roadmap for the next few months. I will share it with you in another post this week.

Suggestions

Pricing

Someone suggested a pricing based per project. You would upload your strings, you would pay a certain sum, and then you’d get access to Web Translate It for as long as you want. If later you have more strings to translate, you upload them, pay for them and off you go.

It makes sense for developers who work on projects that have very little changes over time: once the project is translated and live, they don’t need Web Translate It much.

I completely understand that Web Translate It is overpriced for this kind of use. It’s a bit like taking a Hummer to go to the supermarket.

It was the business idea I had when I started working on Web Translate It. After more thought, I noticed this business model wouldn’t work well for me.

Web Translate It is a service, and I see two ways of selling a good and reliable service:

  • either by selling it monthly at a certain price. This price includes the time my customers don’t use it (week-end, holiday, when no work). This is what companies do with their employees.
  • or by selling it only when my customers need it. This extra flexibility comes at an extra price. This is what companies do when hiring consultants and freelancers: they are usually paid more than employees, but if used sparingly, they cost less to the company.

Consultants and freelancers’ businesses would not work if they were paid once and used indefinitely. There has to have a time limit.

What I am going to do

You will be able to top-up your Web Translate It account with some credit. This credit will stay on your account as long as you want and won’t lose value over time (unlike some dirty phone companies). With that credit you will be able to buy time on Web Translate It, depending on your needs of the moment.

To keep things simple, time will be divided by day —the day pass— or by month —the monthly pass.

It’s a pretty good deal: for example, if you translate a small project, you probably only need a few days. You can buy day passes, which give you access to Web Translate It for the time you need. After that, if you don’t need to translate anything for a while, it won’t cost you a thing.

When the time is up, your project will be automatically locked, so you won’t be able to access or edit it, unless you use another day pass or monthly pass.

The date is not defined yet. I believe it will be implemented sometime during the first semester of 2010.

Pricing is not defined either, but the idea is that if you have an occasional use of Web Translate It, this will be really cheaper than subscribing a monthly plan. Of course, if you use Web Translate It daily, monthly plans will be cheaper. I will announce more about it when I’ll have decided it.

Work offline

Someone suggested to have the ability to work offline, and I am really enthusiastic about this idea. I for one love to cut the wire sometimes.

I can’t promise a date for this, as I have a lot of pressing feature to implement, but I will definitely keep this suggestion in mind, thanks for sharing!

Do you have other suggestions?

If you have other suggestions or ideas to share, please let me know by e-mail or on the support forum.

Thank you for all the feedback, and thank you for using Web Translate It!

Week-end project: public language and territory database

Posted by Edouard on December 13, 2009

Web Translate It has a rather large database of languages, territories and scripts that is used internally.

It is used to display language lists, or for the importers to figure out the plural forms. I thought some of this data could be interesting and valuable to other people.

This week-end I decided to expose this data to everyone. Here you go:

It is pretty cool, I am navigating through the links since an hour now :)

You could probably find this information on Wikipedia, but the difference here is that is structured and to the point. For example, we know the relationships between a language, a territory and a script.

French for example is spoken in Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Senegal.

Or, Mongolian is spoken in and is written using the scripts Cyrillic and Mongolian

The other interesting data is the plural forms rules and code. When you translate a plural string from one language to another, Web Translate It automatically creates the plural rule for the target language, using the right plural forms.

For example, here is the plural rule for Russian, and here another one for Polish.

Making this data available to the public could also let people report eventual mistakes in this data.

I don’t have plans to make this data editable by users, like a wiki. This data is very critical to some Web Translate It features, so I’d rather be the sole maintainer.

Changes on the free trial

Posted by Edouard on December 10, 2009

I am progressively refining Web Translate It’s plans. The first step to that process is that effective immediately, new subscriptions will now offer a 10-day free trial. This is less than before, as it used to be a 30-day free trial.

This only affects new accounts. If you are currently on free trial, nothing changes: you will get all of the 30-day trial as promised.

Why?

Because offering 30 days of service for free is a bit hard on us at the moment. Web Translate It’s service is very young —it launched merely 2 months ago— and 30 days is half of our age.

Besides, I believe 10 days is still plenty of time to evaluate Web Translate It and actually know if this is the right service for you. Web Translate It’s service is pretty simple and new customers usually know after using it for a few minutes if this is the tool they need or not. If you need more time for evaluation, drop me an e-mail at support@atelierconvivialite.com and I will be happy to extend your trial period.

Also, besides the free trial, we offer two other ways to evaluate Web Translate It for free.

First, the free account which affords translating up to 500 strings. This is ideal for small projects, like an iPhone application or a small website.

Or if you have bigger needs, you can try the demo account, which lets you upload as many strings as you want. The only limit is time —3 hours, after which your account is deleted.