Genealogy site Geni is going global today with the addition of its site translated into 22 new languages, including Spanish, German, French, and Hebrew. The site will add dozens more languages in the coming weeks.
Noah Tutak, President of Geni, said that this additional language functionality is a result of the site’s international user base. Half of Geni’s traffic comes from outside of the U.S. But what’s even more compelling than Geni’s availability in additional languages is the technology that is helping to translate the site.
Geni’s engineers have developed a Ruby On Rails-based translation engine that crowdsources language translations of the site. Called tr8n, the technology allowed for Geni to be translated by a few dozen volunteers into seventeen languages in less than two weeks. Translators can vote on existing translations, or submit their own inline while browsing the site. The tr8n engine even takes into account the grammar rules of each language to provide accurate translations for any context.
Tr8n, which comes with 109 pre-configured languages, also shows you what percentage of the site is translated, has full support for right-to-left languages, and provides specialized character keyboards for specific languages with unique, local characters, such as Russian. David Sacks, founder and CEO of Geni, tells me that soon tr8n will be used to translate Yammer, Sacks’ other startup, and will eventually be licensed to other Ruby On Rails sites as a plugin for crowdsourced translations.
Facebook offers a Facebook Connect-enabled crowdsourced translation tool that helped the social network translate its site into more than 65 different languages. But Sacks maintains that tr8n is a more feature-rich option for translation.
Specifically, Sacks says that tr8n differentiates from Facebook’s tool by not requiring a user to have an account on another site. Tr8n also allows site operators own their translations and includes a more flexible syntax for translating complex phrases.
Additionally, Geni announced that the startup’s VP of product, Noah Tutak was promoted to President and VP of engineering Amos Elliston has been named Chief Technology Officer.