UPDATE: I wanted to add that these translation APIs are all part of Microsoft Translator services and are available for developers to use and build their own localized communities. The documentation is up on MSDN for AJAX/JSON, SOAP or POX (Plain old XML) APIs you can put in your apps today. Also, be sure to check out the Microsoft Translator Blog for more technical details on the V2 APIs and translator widget.
Not everyone in the world speaks English. Such a silly thing to say, but if you live in an English-speaking country it's easy to forget that many (most?) people in the world would prefer to do their work in the language of their choice.
Microsoft ships documentation in Visual Studio that is human-translated (a huge effort) into 9 major world languages. That's millions and millions of words * 9 languages. How can we cover more languages? How can we make documentation easier for folks who are trying to learn about our products and don't speak English fluently? How can we make English interfaces easier to use for non-English speakers who want to learn English?
Last month, I spoke to members of the internationalization/globalization team in DevDiv (Developer Division) about some of the little-known stuff they are doing. I think deserves more attention as there's some pretty innovative things being done. Some are experimental, but there's hope to expand them if they succeed.
MSDN uses Machine Translation and Crowdsourcing for Documentation
Doing a lot of work with a few people is hard. Doing a lot of work with a lot of people is confusing and expensive. However, doing a little bit of work with a LOT of interested people can be useful, cheap and fun if you "crowd-source" rather than outsource. Check out the screenshot below or visit the Brazilian MSDN site and check out the Translation Wiki v2.
You'll see there's the English MSDN documentation on the left, and Brazilian Portuguese on the right.
Make sure to select "side-by-side" or "Lado a Lado." If you hover over a sentence on the Portuguese side, a small Edit button will appear.
Click Edit, and you can suggest a better translation, and they'll go into a queue for community moderators to approve. Notice also that under "Other Suggestions" you'll see existing suggested translations that are in the queue for moderation.
The initial Portuguese text comes from the Machine Translation team. For some reason, Portuguese is the best language that the Machine Translation team understands.
The text on the site is roughly 80% MT (Machine Translated) and 20% humans via these technique, and growing. There's a goal to include more languages for the next version of Visual Studio, including possibly Arabic, Czech, Polish and Turkish, although things are still a little up in the air.
If you know a Brazilian developer, spread the word about this project and encourage them to make edits to the Brazilian MSDN site and check out the Translation Wiki v2.
Big thanks to our community partners: a group of 30 CS students, partly from the team of Prof. Hirata and Prof. Forster of Instituto Tecnologico de Aeronautica and the team of Prof. Simone Barbosa from Pontifícia Universidade Católica who post-edited 1.8 million words of MT'ed content; the Brazilian Terminologist who managed the glossary project with our MVPs; and finally the Academic Evangelist Team in DPE in Brazil who gave us their support throughout the project.
It'll be interesting to see how far this project goes and what other languages can benefit from it.
Captions Language Interface Pack (CLIP) - includes 9 more partial language translations for Visual Studio
Here's a description of the CLIP from a launching page:
"The Microsoft Captions Language Interface Pack (CLIP) is a simple language translation solution that uses tooltip captions to display results. Use CLIP as a language aid, to see translations in your own dialect, update results in your own native tongue or use it as a learning tool."
This is pretty clever. It's a background application that will show balloon tooltip help in your language while you work in the English version of Visual Studio. For example, in the screenshot below, I'm hovering my mouse over Start Debugging, and the Arabic CLIP pops up with a human translation of that menu item.
It'll even help with other applications within Windows if it thinks it's got a decent translation, but for now, it is focused on correct translation for common Visual Studio options.
Even better, you can add translations of your own. In future versions, there's talk about setting up sharing (I figure you can hack it today, though, unsupported, by sharing the language database.
Visual Studio CLIP is available in these languages so far, all created with community and student help!
- Arabic (المنطقة العربية)
- with students from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), managed by Prof. Abdullah Al-Zamel
- Czech (Česká republika)
- with students from VŠB-TU Ostrava managed by Eng. Jan Martinovič
- Hebrew (ישראל)
- with students from the Computer Department of the College Of Management managed by by Prof. Samuel Itzikowitz
- Hindi (हिन्दी) and Tamil (தமிழ்)
- with a team from the Central Institute of Indian Languages
- Malayalam (മലയാളം)
- in cooperation with a team from the Central Institute of Indian Languages
- Oriya (ଓଡ଼ିଆ)
- with students from Ravenshaw University in India, managed by Prof. Mishra
- Polish (Polska)
- with students from Wroclaw University managed by Prof. Zbigniew Fryžlewicz
- Turkish (Türkiye)
- with students from Hacettepe Üniversitesi lead by Prof. Ercin Töreci
In addition to the CLIP, there's also the ability to do a Language Pack for the Visual Studio interface itself, as exemplified by the Brazilian Visual Studio Express Language Pack for SP1 that does about a 70% translation of VS into Portuguese. There's talk to do more of these also. That should make Carlos Quintero happy!
There's a lot of cool possibilities for all this technology, expanding MSDN and VS to as many languages as possible!
If you think this kind of thinking is pretty cool, leave a comment or blog about it and maybe we'll be heard by *ahem* the boss when he next (soon) reviews plans for this kind of community involvement. ;)