About eight months back, the Microsoft Research Translator team delivered an entirely unique way of delivering your website’s pages to visitors who speak a different language with no development effort on your part. Unlike any other translation widget/gadget available at that time, the Translator widget was unique in that it kept your audience on your site, rather than redirecting them to a proxy translation service. Since then, thousands of sites have adopted the Translator widget and have been able to attract a much broader audience from around the world.
Powered by the same machine translation technology that is used by Bing, Internet Explorer, and Office, the Translator widget provides a free option to deliver a “gisting” experience to a non-native audience. While machine translation cannot replace a professional or human localization, it aims to provide a rough understanding (the gist) of the content on the page to those that cannot read the original language. The translation engine is worked on continuously to deliver better quality and more languages. You can learn more about the pioneering work being done by our researchers in this space over at the Translator group’s site at Microsoft Research. With the widget, given the on-demand nature of the translations, there is no load on your site and the freshest translations are delivered to the visitor.
Once translation has been kicked off, the page is translated using “progressive rendering” – a technique that ensures that the visitor can immediately get the benefit of translation without waiting for the whole page to be translated. As they navigate from page to page on your site, the pages get automatically translated, resulting in a seamless experience for your visitors. A progress bar and several other controls are displayed as well, to the visitor, floating at the top of the screen. Upon translation, hovering over the translated sentences displays tool tips that show the original source sentence, as shown in the image below. This can be useful in situations where the visitor has some familiarity with the source language.
Another interesting feature of the widget is the ability to share a link to the translated page. A visitor to a site who has translated the page to a particular language can share a link to the translated version of the page. When the recipient clicks on the link, they are taken to the page and translation to their language is kicked off automatically. For example, this page (http://viks.org/2009/06/11/instant-translations-in-bing/) can be auto-translated to Spanish by appending the code #mstto=es to the end of the URL (http://viks.org/2009/06/11/instant-translations-in-bing/#mstto=es).
So, what are you waiting for? Go get the widget and start making the Web more “worldly”!
Stay tuned to the Webmaster Center blog and the Translator team’s blog for more information on additions to the widget functionality. You can also participate in the Translator user community.
— Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Research