Crowdsourcing software translations

Most software is written and documented in English. Yet, people speaking English to some degree of competence are only a fifth of the world. Native English speakers are even less. For a piece of software to become globally accepted, translated interface, help files and documentation is a must.  For this reason, translation and translation management tools have been around for quite some time and translators are always in demand and the translation market is estimated to be currently a 5 billion dollar market.

Transifex is an open source translation management  solution with considerable inroads in the Fedora and Red Hat community (some 600 translators for approx. 10 millions of users of the translated programs).  A few months ago, Indifex, the Greek company behind Transifex, decided to make a move that many successful open source counterparts had already made, and launched the (Txn) web service.

Txn  is still targeting the same audience (open source project developers and translators) but has in stock a lot more for the future.

Developers can register their projects in Txn and translators can find the projects  they are interested to volunteer and work on. This way, Txn  acts as a marketplace that joins developers and translators, a fact that  can prove pretty important for its future plans.

In its short life, Txn  has managed to attract and host over 650 projects, with a few well known ones among them:  Django, Mercurial, the PHP language and lots of Gnome related projects.

And it keeps adding features: the latest one is the ‘push’ feature which gives translators the ability to push back translated files to software repositories like CVS, SVN, Git etc. while things like translation memory are planned for the near future.

But where monetization will come from? Dimitris Glezos, Founder and Chief Engineer of  Indifex, in a recent mail exchange, revealed  that they are planning to segment their offering as follows:

  1. Free localization support for open source projects (already in place).
  2. Pro packages for professionals, SMEs and advanced users starting at 10 euros per month (planned for September).
  3. Enterprise support to large companies, consultancy and training for community-powered translations / localization crowdsourcing.

Their  vision goes well beyond software according to  Glezos.  Txn aims to become a hub for  translations of  a variety of content, web content included.

The competition is limited for  the moment, which is  very promising, and since machine translation has not made significant progress in most languages, their market is not going to go away soon.