Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

News and Views from the Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Team in Microsoft Research.

March, 2010

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Collaborative Translations: Announcing the next version of Microsoft Translator technology – V2 APIs and widget

    • 11 Comments

    There have been many stories about brain vs. brawn. More recently, human brain and computer brawn have been pitted against each other in arenas such as one-on-one chess. We all have been hearing about applying large amounts of computing power to solve problems like translation by sheer force. As a high performance cloud service offered by Microsoft, we continue to make investments in such processing power – but we also know that no matter how many machines you throw at translation, it is still impossible to get the correct, error-free, contextually accurate translation every time. With the clear understanding of how it would be a much better outcome for our users and partners, we have been hard at work exploring ways of putting together the might of the machines and the power of human understanding. The first wave of innovations focused on our partners and users was what we called “Anywhere Translations”.

    Welcome to the next wave of innovation – Collaborative Translations.

     CTFMicrosoft is pleased to announce, the availability of the Collaborative Translations Framework – a technology that combines the scale and speed of automatic machine translation with the accuracy and context awareness of human translation. At MIX 2010, we are announcing the latest version of our translation API (v2) and built on top of that, a new version of the pioneering translator widget that we released a year ago.  In addition to bringing real-time, in-place translations to your web site, the Microsoft Translator web page widget v2 adds collaborative features that help tailor the translations delivered to fit your site. 

    In addition to the collaborative features powered by the Collaborative Translations Framework, the V2 of the Microsoft Translator API includes a “batch” interface to translate large amounts of data, support for communicating with the service securely via SSL and the addition of “Translate-and-Speak” – a text-to-speech functionality. We are also adding an enhancement to our Bing Translator user site, where you can use the “Translate-and-Speak” functionality whenever you translate into one of the supported languages.

    What is being announced today:

    1) A simple to adopt, highly customizable widget that site owners and webmasters can place on any webpage – and it not only helps to instantly make the page available in multiple languages, it also allows the owners with the help of their community or professional translators to tailor the the translations to their site’s content.

    2) A broad set of powerful translation APIs in SOAP, HTTP and AJAX flavors so that developers can pick the best one to fit their requirement. Functionality includes language detection, single and batch translation, collaborative translations and text to speech. All you need to get started is a Bing Developer AppID. In addition, we are also announcing the Microsoft Translator Silverlight control for translation will be available as part of the Silverlight toolkit.

    3) An update to Bing Translator translation service, which adds the “Translate-and-Speak” functionality for a set of languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian). Perform a translation on the site and you will notice a speaker icon to click on to hear it spoken.

    Who is it for:Widget in Action

    The Widget is for anyone with a web page. If you can paste a small snippet of code into your page, you will be able to display the widget to your audience. No need to know programming intricacies, or how to call a JavaScript API. No need to write or install server side plug-ins for your specific software. 

    The APIs are for anyone that would like to bring translations to their app or site. Some developers have used the APIs to deliver applications that can deal with content in multiple languages, and others have used them to localize their applications. Designers have used them to make sure their designs work in many locales, and enterprises have used them to translate documents. Phone application developers might find the cloud text-to-speech API particularly interesting, as they develop hands-free scenarios.

    What is cool about it:

    • Innovative: The translator widget pioneered the in-place instant translations (without taking users away from the site) and now it delivers the tools for sites to customize how the content gets translated. Users can edit/select or report the automatic translations to better fit the content and site owners have final say in picking the best translation for their content. Users in a community help other users and the community owner, and one community helps another community as sentences repeat. The APIs enable any developer to take advantage of the power of collaboration, and can tap into the wisdom of their crowd(s) across multiple scenarios.
    • Easy to Use: Adding the widget to a page is as easy as copy and paste. Using it on the site is as easy as select language and click the button (and in V2 we provide the option to make it automatic!). The APIs are simple and straight forward. The choice of SOAP, HTTP and AJAX allows developers to pick the one most familiar or easy to use for their application.
    • Widget Customization Customizable: From color and size selection to the translation behavior – everything about the widget is customizable to fit the site’s requirements.
    • Thoughtful User Experience: Progressive rendering allows for the page to get translated progressively – without having the user stare at a white space while the translation is being performed. The translation toolbar that appears when the translation is kicked off provides a progress indicator, the languages selected and a way to turn off the translation. Auto and Notify preferences and an option to hide the widget control help deliver the optimal user experience to the visitor of a site.
    • Localized: The entire widget experience, including the alternatives UI are all localized to multiple languages. Users visiting a site with their browser set to a different language will see the UI in their language.

    Fun! What does it cost:

    The widget is completely free for use on commercial or non-commercial sites. Instead of expensive localization whose costs are incremental if a site has changing content, the translator widget brings a no-cost option to site owners. Depending on their needs, site owners can choose to invite their chosen translators to come help improve the translations delivered to their site.

    The APIs are also available at no cost to developers and partners. For high volume commercial use, email mtlic@microsoft.com.

    How do I get it:

     image Each MIX 2010 attendee gets an exclusive invite code in their attendee bags to enable Collaborative Translations features in their widget. If you are not attending MIX, you can still get a widget for your site, and add yourself to the Collaborative Translations feature invite list. We will be sending invites as soon as some more become available.

    What we are working on:

    • More polish:We will be looking for your feedback and continue to work on the fit and finish for the widget, toolbar and alternatives UI. We are also working on providing better translator invitation management as well as analytics for site and app owners. We would love to hear your feedback about the “translate-and-speak” functionality.
    • More customizability: We will be evolving the customization options available to you through the adoption portal. We will also be looking at your feedback on the overall design of the APIs and the functionality available through the GetTranslations & AddTranslation methods. We are working on providing language selection options (so site owners can limit the number of languages they show as part of the widget). We are also working on adding export functionality for your site’s edits.
    • Compatibility: We are working hard to ensure that our user interfaces are broadly compatible with most modern browsers (widget and translate-and-speak) and sites (widget and Bing Translator). Make sure to check back often if a feature did not work in your browser – we update often.
    • Silverlight: We are working on making the Silverlight translator control available as part of the Silverlight toolkit release that would be shipped when SL4 goes final.

    Other questions:

    I can’t get it to work or I have encountered a bug. Where can I get support or provide feedback?

    Given the pre-release nature of the new functionality you might encounter glitches as we work towards adding new features. The known issues list is available here. If there is an issue that you encounter which is not in the list, we would love it if you could let us know. You can either use our forums, or directly contact us at mtcont@microsoft.com.

    Can this save me the cost of doing expert localization of my professional website?

    Expert localization is an extremely important and valuable aspect of doing business globally. We have always encouraged our users to take advantage of the exceptional quality of translations provided by an expert translator for mission critical content that needs to be localized. For those of you who are looking for a low cost way to localize content that you might not otherwise have localized, or for content that is rapidly changing (and not cost effective to use expert localization) – our machine and human collaborative translations option could come in handy and save money.

    How many languages do you support? When can you add support for <insert language here>?

    We continually work on adding new languages – since last MIX we added 17 new languages bringing us to 30. Here is the list of languages we currently support:

    Arabic German Polish
    Bulgarian Greek Portuguese
    Chinese Simplified Haitian Creole Romanian
    Chinese Traditional Hebrew Russian
    Czech Hungarian Slovak
    Danish Italian Slovenian
    Dutch Japanese Spanish
    English Korean Swedish
    Finnish Lithuanian Thai
    French Norwegian Turkish

    You can always find the latest list of languages here.

    I am using a hosted service for my site/blog that does not let me use javascript widgets. What can I do?

    We are looking to work with providers of hosted services to make adding the widget an easy process for their users. If your provider does not offer this, please let them and us know that you would like to see the widget work with your site.

     

    Those of you who are at MIX 2010 can dive deeper into these technologies at our session (Monday 3/15, Lagoon H at 2:00 PM). We will also be posting in-depth information about the various aspects of today’s announcement in the next few days. Keep checking this post and our forums for further announcements, known issues and more information. You can follow our MIX10 coverage on twitter.

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    MIX MIX MIX… and some late night goodies

    • 1 Comments

    It’s nearly midnight in Seattle. The team is heads down in preparing the service for MIX 2010… I am sitting in the office wondering which of my 100 to-do items I should tackle next. So, naturally, I do something that’s not on that list. Something fun. :)

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, MIX is our favorite conference and so we put “money where our mouth is” (let’s see a machine translation system deal with that one!) and said an enthusiastic yes when the team asked us to be a sponsor. All you lucky MIX attendees will see some awesome swag in your bags courtesy Microsoft Translator, with one of the highlights being a lovely decal for your notebook/pad/device.

    Everyone liked the design we came up with for it so much that we decided to make a wallpaper out of it for you. So, without further ado:

    MIX10_MicrosoftTranslator_dk_1920 MIX10_MicrosoftTranslator_lt_1920
    Dark: 1920x1080 /1440x900 Light:  1920x1080 / 1440x900

    Once again, don’t forget to come to our session on Monday at 2 PM at Lagoon H and also visit our Showcase demo area at The Commons.

    Enjoy!

    - Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    “Anywhere” Translations

    • 9 Comments

    Nearly a year ago Microsoft Translator unveiled an innovative new approach to translating web pages – one that enabled webmasters to bring the power of automatic machine translation to their sites with a snippet of java script. Unlike any other quick and easy solution out there at that time, the Microsoft Translator webpage widget integrated the translation experience into your site, and did not take your users away to a different translation site. Here is our friend Doug Thomas, in his inimitable style, explaining how the same powerful translation technology that powers translation inside Office can power your site.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    The widget was a showcase for the broad set of APIs that we announced at the same time – APIs that have been used by many partners since that time to build a variety of software, services and sites.  MobileTranslator

    You all know that we were the first major translation service to provide a Haitian Creole system to help with the relief efforts underway in Haiti. One of the key motivators for us to build the system was Rick Engle, a fellow Microsoft professional who in his various endeavors to help with the relief efforts wanted to write an application to help the workers on the ground in Haiti. Since the time we added the language to our supported list, Rick went ahead and built the mobile app he had originally set out to build. You can find it here and it works for all languages that our service supports. The goal for having a full set of APIs (including HTTP, SOAP and AJAX) has always been to help developers like Rick focus on building great applications without a lot of heavy lifting, and we will continue to invest in that direction.

    When we announced the availability of the widget and the APIs, we articulated our mission – to empower content providers, site owners and developers to deeply integrate translations into their sites and communities – truly bringing translations “anywhere” they are needed. As MIX 2010 approaches, we are working towards showcasing the next wave of our partner focused innovations.

    We love MIX – where we get to meet developers that understand design, designers that understand strategy, strategists that understand technology... We get to discuss language technology with a German developer building software for an English company that serves customers from China to Brazil and we get to hear great feedback about what new browsers should we be testing our AJAX controls against. It’s a brilliant “mix” of creativity, ingenuity and passion and we are glad that we have made it “our” conference to share with the world what new things that we have been cooking up.

    A bunch of us with be at MIX2010, and those of you that will be there can expect some goodies in the attendee bag from our team. Do mark your schedule for our session – it’s at Lagoon H on Monday at 2 PM. If you were at last year’s session – you know how much fun it is. Oh also - we have some heavy boxes we are lugging with us. :)

    If you are not at MIX (this is going to be the most attended MIX ever!), do not worry. We will have plenty of information posted here and on our site about what we are announcing at MIX on Monday. In addition, we hope to have Doug back – explaining the latest and the greatest in translation soon after that. Stay tuned!

    - Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator

  • Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog

    Announcement: New languages added to Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator)

    • 41 Comments

    A little while ago I was asked to figure out a solution to a user experience problem that was affecting some of our offerings such as the widget, the Bing text and web page translators. A “bug” was assigned to me, asking me to weigh in on how to deal with a problem of plenty: Given we were about to add a substantial set of new languages we were running out of space to display them properly. What could be a quick interim fix?

    Several months ago, while announcing the availability of Hebrew in our language list, I had requested our community of users what else they wanted to see supported. Taking into account all the feedback that came in since then, we have been hard at work to add support to new languages. This is why it’s always a pleasure to encounter problems like the one above – they indicate that this work was coming to fruition.

    I am happy to announce the addition of seven new languages to our translation service. As always, they will be immediately available for your use through the APIs and all the products that consume the service. Here is the list of languages that have been added in the latest release. In addition there have been several updates to the Haitian Creole language since we last talked about it here.

    New languages:

    ROM - Romanian
    NOR - Norwegian
    HUN - Hungarian
    SKY - Slovak
    SLO - Slovenian
    LTH - Lithuanian
    TRK – Turkishimage

    This brings our languages supported number to 30 languages. Here is the full list:

    Currently available:

    ARA - Arabic
    CHS - Chinese Simplified
    CHT - Chinese Traditional
    NLD - Dutch
    ENU - English
    FRA - French
    DEU - German
    HEB – Hebrew
    HT – Haitian Creole
    ITA - Italian
    JPN - Japanese
    KOR - Korean
    PLK - Polish
    PTB - Portuguese
    RUS - Russian
    ESN - Spanish
    CSY - Czech
    DAN - Danish
    ELL - Greek
    SVE - Swedish
    THA - Thai
    BGR - Bulgarian
    FIN – Finnish
    ROM - Romanian
    NOR - Norwegian
    HUN - Hungarian
    SKY - Slovak
    SLO - Slovenian
    LTH - Lithuanian
    TRK - Turkish

    Head on over to our forums if you have specific feedback or looking for discussions about these new languages. We continue to work on adding even more languages to the service, so please keep sending us feedback and stay tuned for other announcements on this blog.

    With the addition of these new languages, the approach I recommended in the short term is visible in the translation toolbar – the language list uses a smaller font size. In the future, we intend to move to either a multiple column list, or another style of display for the list.

    I will look forward to more such problems, since it means we are meeting more expectations from you - our users. Enjoy the new languages!

     

    - Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator

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