This is a repost from the Microsoft Research Machine Translation (MSR-MT) Team Blog by permission, and I have also implemented on my site. I know that many of my readers are beyond the US and the English speaking world, and from browser settings over 25% of my readers are not set to English. I’d love to have feedback on how useful this machine translation is for you – or would you get more benefit from some of our local support engineers also running blogs?
On to the announcement:
The Microsoft Translator team is very proud to announce the technology preview of an innovative offering for web page translations. Attendees to MIX09 this week get a special invitation to try out the Microsoft Translator web page widget. We are also accepting registrations, and will be sending out more invites as they become available.
What it is: Built on top of the Microsoft Translator AJAX API (also announced today) it is a small, customizable widget that you can place on your web page – and it helps you instantly makes the page available in multiple languages.
What it offers: It provides a simple interface to anyone that visits the web page to select and translate content into a different language. You can see a demo on this page.
What is cool about it:
- Innovative: Unlike other (including our) existing solutions, it does not take the users away from the site. The translations are in-place and instant. Users can hover over the translation to see the original.
- Easy to Use: Adding it to your page is as easy as copy and paste. Using it on the site is as easy as select language and click the button.
- Customizable: You can pick the colors that best blend into your site design. You can pick the size that would best fit into your design (in fact the widget has an adaptive layout that better uses real estate when very wide).
- 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.
- Localized: The UI is available in multiple languages – so users that come to your page with their browser set to a different language will see the widget in their language.
Fun! What does it cost: It is completely free. You can put it on any site – commercial or non-commercial. You are only limited by the invite codes available at this point, but over the coming months we plan to make it more widely 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 UI.
- More customizability: We will be evolving the default color palette available to you through the adoption portal. We will also be looking at your feedback on the overall design.
- New Features: There are a bunch of very cool features that we are working on that will be added soon (your widgets will inherit most of these features). These include “Automatic” translations on page load, multiple layouts/views (bringing in the well received views feature of our bi-lingual viewer offering) and some surprises that we are working on with other teams at Microsoft.
I can’t get it to work. Where can I get support or provide feedback?
I would like to highlight that this is a technology preview release – so please do test it on your site before presenting to your users. The Microsoft Translator forums are now live. Feel free to head over and interact with other users. You will also find members of our team there who can help.
Can this save me the cost of doing human translation on my professional website?
Our goal (and that of most machine translation systems available today) is to provide what we call “useful” translations. While the technology is improving month to month, it will still take a long time before it can match human translation quality. We don’t recommend using machine translation for sensitive or highly critical information. You can learn more about translation quality here and here. You can learn more about how we do machine translation here.
How many languages do you support? When can you add support for <insert language here>?
Currently we support the following languages.
· Chinese (Simplified & Traditional)
Polish was our most recent addition. Our goal is to keep adding languages as we get enough training data to meet our minimum (“useful”) quality criteria which include both standard measurements and human evaluations.
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.