Review : Using Gengo & Transifex To Localize A Web App In 20 Languages

Last month, we re-launched Der Mundo as a multilingual link sharing and cross-language search engine. Since the site’s purpose is to enable people to curate and share news and commentary across languages, the service had to be localized into many languages. This would have been a formidable and expensive project until recently, but using Gengo and Transifex, the whole project took two days and cost just a few hundred dollars.

Gengo is a highly automated professional translation service that allows web developers to treat their network of translators like an automated service. The service is accessed via a web API, and makes it easy to submit texts for translation. The one thing Gengo doesn’t provide is a fully featured translation management system where you can post-edit texts, export your translations to which ever translation file format you use, and so on.

That’s where Transifex comes into play. They offer a richly featured translation/localization management system which is offered as a cloud based subscription service. With their service, you can create and manage projects, prompt catalogs, and manage translation workflow. It’s comparable to what the big companies like SDL offer, but priced for small and mid-sized companies, and designed to work in agile development projects.

Transifex recently completed their integration with Gengo, so you can now order translations from within their dashboard. Ordering translations is as easy as checking which prompt catalog you need to translate, the languages you want, and the quality level (Gengo offers three tiers of service: standard/5 cents per word, professional/10 cents per word, and ultra/15 cents per word). We used the pro level.

As soon as you complete the order, the results start streaming back in, and you can watch the progress bar for each language. Translations to most languages were completed within a few hours, while less common languages took a day or so. We ran the project over a weekend, and had everything done and ready to beta test the following Monday.

At the pro level, Gengo does a good job, but there’s always a chance the translator won’t understand the context of a particular prompt (do you mean home as in house, or home as in home page?). So a good process to use is to have trusted reviewers review and post-edit the Gengo translations after they come back.

If you’re a web or mobile app developer, I highly recommend you consider this combo. Smartling is also a great solution.

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