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Key factors when choosing translation APIs for multilingual websites
What is a translation API?
An application programming interface (API) is a set of functions and procedures that allows different software applications to communicate seamlessly.
When it comes to website localization, the vast majority of websites use a content management system (CMS) to organize content. An API can help smooth the translation process by acting as a bridge, sending and retrieving content between the CMS and a translation management system (TMS). It can also connect to various other applications, such as accounting software or marketing platforms.
Is the Google Translate API a good option for your website?
Relying on a translation API like Google Translate to generate translations for your website without any further human intervention may seem cost-effective, but there is a huge potential loss of context or cultural nuances if this is done without careful consideration.
If the information isn't relevant or doesn't make sense to visitors, they're going to go elsewhere. What's more, pages with automated content risk not being listed on search result pages. With professional linguists, editors and copywriters, you're guaranteed accurate and culturally informed content.
The most beneficial APIs are those that streamline the entire process of translating and adapting content for different languages and cultures. They allow you to automatically send and receive content, and they create a complete process for translation management and content adaptation - including the added value of both automation and humans.
Your language strategy and localization requirements
APIs are undoubtedly valuable for managing localization tasks and removing risks, but they take time to develop. Once set up, you'll also need to allocate time for supervision and necessary updates. Depending on your situation, you may therefore want to consider a 3rd-party, out-of-the-box API solution.
So before diving headfirst into the world of translation APIs, consider the following:
- Your Localization Needs: assess your content volume, the number of languages you're targeting, how often you update your content and your typical time to market.
- TMS Features: ensure your TMS supports a variety of APIs and even allows for custom creations. The more versatile, the better!
- Customization vs. Costs: while tailoring an API to your exact needs sounds appealing, it might come with added costs and maintenance responsibilities
- Testing is Key: before fully integrating an API, conduct thorough tests to ensure it
meets your requirements and is free from glitches.
Translation management system capabilities
A TMS should offer a range of APIs. Apart from pushing and pulling text, API integrations can automate other parts of the localization process. For example, a content analysis can be generated, and the data is then sent back to a translation project management tool, without the need for extensive coding or set-up.
In case your own tech landscape doesn’t include a TMS, ask your localization provider about the API solutions offered by their TMS.
The biggest draw of having your CMS and TMS connected via an API, is that there's no need for e-mails and switching between multiple applications to manually copy and paste content. Without automation via an API, these routine tasks not only stop your team from working on more important matters, they can actually result in errors (especially if your team members don't speak the language).
APIs can be customized for integration to suit your specific needs. For example, if your CMS has APIs, custom development in the code will enable you to create a button to fetch and export new content to localize. For regular content retrievals and publishing, this is well worth the investment.
Pre-localization and maintenance tests are key to preventing bottlenecks down the line. Running tests beforehand will flag any issues that should be resolved before adapting your website for a new market. Additionally, it’s smart to ensure compatibility with various file types and check for graphic support.
Translation API costs
In addition to time requirements, translation API pricing must be considered. Factor the costs associated with development, use and maintenance into your budget.
If setting up your own customized API is not an option, you can still gain many benefits APIs have to offer: an off-the-shelf connector could be enough to streamline the processes you need!
Should you opt for a CMS connector?
Taking the factors above into account, you may decide that an out-of-the-box connector is the right API solution for you. CMS connectors leverage APIs to connect applications without manual processes. Since they are pre-built, they need no code, lengthy set-up or maintenance on your end.
When properly set up, translation APIs take care of the important processes of accessing, transporting and publishing content. However, as websites vary greatly, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for API integrations. IT consulting with localization specialists can help you address the many language-related factors involved. It is their job to guide you to the best solution available for connecting all of your tools and managing the integration for you.
Expert guidance for selecting the right APIs
Today, translation APIs are a worthwhile investment to keep multilingual websites updated in an accurate and timely manner. Attached offers customized API solutions for various CMSs and content repositories based on your needs.