Transifex – a first look

This “Greece-born” company has been around since 2009, but I’ve only just heard of them, although I’ve often exploited myself working with their products.

The founder is one Dimitris Glezos and he wrote the original code during a Google competition. Next to their head office in Athens, they’ve also set up shop near San Francisco. One of Transifex’ main investors is Toba Capital, run by one Vinny Smith.

Transifex’s user interface is nearly as feature-rich as FreeTM and more user-friendly than Google Translator Toolkit. But because it’s built for managers, it’s not easy (maybe impossible) for translators to just translate a file. Transifex goes for the big fish – website and software owners.

Transifex automates project management and so is a competitor to code clunkers like SDL/Trados and MemoQ. Right now, clients still pay agencies, because they don’t want to pay for CAT tool licensing and training. Transifex isn’t free, but you don’t need a specialist to run it.

Agencies using Transifex can automate most of the office work and focus on recruiting cheap translators. Clients, like Eventbrite, can skip agencies altogether and insource localization. In any case, the Transifex wins, because they sell the tools.

Transifex’s “integrated provider” (i.e. cheapest slave catcher) is an agency called e2f. If you start a project in Transifex, e2f’s project managers in Madagascar find people worldwide to translate it for cheap. Reputable firms, like Gengo ($8 an hour) and Alpha CRC  (still owe me two grand), also get orders through Transifex. (Google uses the Italian company Translated.net as a “human translation provider”.)

Having said that, I use Transifex because it’s free for open source projects. I’m trying to get German application forms translated into several languages by volunteers.

It’s very easy to use. Before, translators had to work on a JSON file in Notepad and reupload the file into GitHub, now I just upload the JSON and they can start.

Unbenannt

Transifex user interface. Note the many functions in the segment dialog.

Transifex offers a TM (with segment history!), glossary and several commenting functions for each segment. This lets you micro-manage your translators. The project overview is transparent, and it takes two or three clicks to add target languages and collaborators. No e-mail attachments, no exporting or creating of new TMs, so a lot of the classic project manager work is gone.

Now I still don’t have a team, but at least my team works more efficiently.

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