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We’ve just started translating our own WPML.org. First languages are Spanish and German. It’s mostly working, but still has some childhood problems. I thought it would be interesting to share how this is going, tell about the problems we’re facing and how to they’re being fixed.

Some of the problems are just bugs that we’re fixing but others have to do more with methodology and usage.

What’s working already

Translation Dashboard in WPML
Translation Dashboard in WPML

WPML’s translation dashboard allows sending translation jobs and checking on their status.

For now, we’ve sent out two documents to translation — the home and support pages. It’s just a tiny pilot, to see how it’s working.

You select the documents that you want to translate, select which languages and click on ‘Translate’. Feedback is immediate. The status of the document update to ‘Translation in progress’.

Then, when the documents complete the translation, they just appear in the site. We get a notification email saying that they’re ready and that’s it.

What needs fixing

For some strange reason, the HTML in the Spanish home page has changed. The DIV ID of the opening paragraph is gone, making the page look strange.

The English HTML looks like:

<div id="intro">
<h1><strong>WPML</strong> is a WordPress plugin

And the Spanish HTML is:

<div>
<h1><strong>WPML</strong> es un programa

Normally, the way the system works is that all the HTML formatting remains intact (completely unchanged) and only the text is translated. When you send a page for translation, you don’t need to worry about how it looks. It’s supposed to look exactly like the original, just with translated contents.

Why this happened is still unclear. It’s a technical issue that we’re going to fix (hopefully, over the weekend).

Terminology issues

WPML.org speaks to a fairly technical audience — advanced WordPress users and web designers. We’ve asked the translators to keep the informal tone and keep the translation consistent with WordPress terminology in Spanish and German.

However, the word Plugin got translated to programa complementario. It’s linguistically correct, but does it really help? Of course not. To avoid these problems in the future, we’re going to make screen shots of the WordPress admin pages and send them to the translators. These will include a set of English and Spanish/German pages.

This way, the translator can check how each English term appears in his language. It’s going to take a bit of effort getting used to, but will make everything run much faster later on.

Other stuff that still needs testing

WPML’s translation service includes some powerful features behind the hood. One of them is the ability to adjust links between translated pages and posts.  For example, the support page links to the CSS generator. When both these pages are translated to Spanish, the Spanish support page should link to the Spanish CSS generator page.

This works regardless of who’s translated first. When a page is translated WPML checks all the pages that link to it and adjust the links so that they point to the translation.

We’ll be testing this soon, when linked pages are sent for translation.

A full commercial release

We’re aiming for a first public beta of the translation functions by the end of next week. This will run on a few select sites. Then, another one or two weeks and we should be ready for an official release. You can mark a spot somewhere in the middle of June.