Translation Toolkit of Google

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As of September 2012 the translation toolkit of Google is still accessible for anyone with a Google account (gmail or googlemail) free of charge. This may change in the future.

First steps

Once you are logged into you account with Google you can start using the toolkit (the link can be found at the bottom of the Google Translate page where you will be prompted to log in if you have not done so). The material you need has to be present on your computer.

On the left side of the main window you'll see the subpages

All translations
Active
Hidden
Trash
My labels
All translation tools
Translation memories
Glossaries

At the beginning all of these subpages are empty. You can start by uploading a file for translation on the page of "active". In the window that opens you'll see the steps that have to be completed:

Browse your computer to select a file to upload (find a file in one of the formats given on the right side)
What do you want to call it? (rename it, if necessary)
Translate from: (choose the language of the file)
Translate to: (choose the language of your translation)

Once you have uploaded a file a window for your translation opens. On the left is the text of the file that you uploaded and on the right the text of your translation with the first "segment" (a segment is usually a headline or a sentence) is shown in a box used for translation. Usually the machine translation of Google will appear as pre-translated text. In the unlikely event that someone using the toolkit made a translation of exactly the same sentence the translation of a human may appear. Once you have completed your translation of the segment you proceed to the next segment by clicking on the arrow at the bottom of the box (another arrow for going back exists as well, but you can also move between the segments with a simple click on the segment).

The translation box

The possibilities for your translation work are mainly provided by symbols at the top or bottom of the box. Each symbol is explained as a tooltip and does not really need explaining. There is one symbol looking like an arrow in a circle. It means that if your document contains more than one segment with exactly the same content you can translate all of them in "one go", if you click on it. The up and down arrow on top of the box can be used to place the box at the bottom of your browser's window ("undock box") or at the place in the text ("dock the box").

You can use the translation box as a kind of text editor, using "copy" and "paste" or the other functions you are used to from your routine work.

If you want to see the steps so far, you can watch a 4:44 minutes video (screencast) if you are using Mozilla Firefox by clicking on this link (use the right mouse to open in new tag or window) or downloading the file (15.4MB) to your computer and watch it with a player able to show films with the extension *.ogv.

Using translation memories and glossaries

You need to upload your own translation memory (TM or memories), if you want to have projects for yourself or a number of colleagues. These files have the extension *.tmx and should be available in all CAT tools (for OmegaT look at this message).

Once you have opened one of your files for translation you can choose "properties" under "file" and here you can choose whether your files uses the "global translation memory" or one that you have uploaded. I did not find a possibility to create a TM in Google Translate Toolkit "from scratch", so you must have one on your computer to be uploaded before you put your files into individual "projects".

The creation of glossaries is restricted as well. Again you have to create a file either by Google Docs or in LibreOffice Calc to be uploaded from your computer. These explanations should be read carefully before your proceed. The glossaries that you uploaded cannot be edited in Google Translation Toolkit. You have to edit new items or update the complete file, before you replace the old file or upload new items. A screencast on this aspect can be opened in Mozilla Firefox directly (otherwise download and watch on your PC). The length is 3:28 minutes and it takes 16MB to be downloaded.

First evaluation

If you like to make translations online using machine translation the Google Translation Toolkit is a real option. It may also be a good choice if you work an a translation with several people (having accounts with Google). This bit of the opportunity was not tested (yet).

But if you just need a CAT tool to improve consistency and quality of your translations you may prefer to opt for solutions of professional tools such as MemoQ or Trados (the first is cheaper than the second one) or open source programs working on all platforms, recommended is OmegaT.