This article was originally written in English. Text in other languages is provided via machine translation.
A single gateway into Adobe’s Community Translation “universe”
November 2012 marks the month when Adobe’s Globalization group is launching the “Adobe Translation Center” (ATC) at translate.adobe.com. For Adobe’s customers and fans, ATC will be the single access point to provide feedback and improvement ideas for existing translations in “Adobe languages”, the shipping languages of an Adobe product. At the same time, the center will also be the place where our vibrant and growing translator community explores – in a collaborative fashion – opportunities for “community languages”: Languages that are in high demand by their speakers, but not delivered as part of our product offerings.
So far, our community translation “universe” consists of two planets, reflecting its current two main focus areas:
Adobe Translation Center itself is now offering functionality allowing fans to collaborate on user interface (UI) translation (formerly this has been available through Adobe Translator). The activity around UI translation has been growing quickly, supported and used by several hundred contributors.
The Adobe TV Community Translation project is ATC’s very successful bigger twin: More than 2,500 translators have already translated subtitles for more than 14,000 minutes of video to make educational, entertaining, and helpful content available in a growing number of languages.
Not too long ago …
In November 2011, this blog presented the success case of how fans and users enabled Adobe Business Catalyst (BC) to ship with an additional language UI in Dutch, entirely translated by the BC partner community. The motivation driving this effort was the interest to better serve the partners’ customers in that language (BC with Dutch UI).
Since then, the ATC product team has been busy at work and put a significant effort into improving the Translation Center’s “look & feel” and its functionality. Entering feedback and translation suggestions is now possible intuitively and in a visually pleasing interface that follows the overall Adobe.com experience. As with all Adobe products, agile development methodologies are allowing the team to react to user feedback: Even though ATC is now launched, we still consider it to be “work in progress” (as opposed to “set in stone”) and are eager to hear what the community desires in order to be more productive or to have a more delightful collaborative translation experience.
“Community Translation” at Adobe
At Adobe, community translation refers to the process of enabling our users to translate content in a collaborative environment, assisted by professional translators or moderators. Types of content available for community translation today are videos (through Adobe TV) and software user interface (through the functionality within Adobe Translation Center). In the future, we expect community translation to expand into areas like documentation or user forums.
Ideally, collaboration and interaction between contributors should make community translation a rewarding and fun experience. We are confident that our tools will contribute to such an experience, so that lively and passionate communities will be developing and thriving around them.
Why does Adobe promote community translation?
Adobe has a long history related to localization and globalization. Our products are reaching people all over the world and allow them to express their creativity, regardless of their native language or the locations where they live and work. No matter what language we are using, when speaking to our users, we are always deeply impressed, how important our products are for them and with how much passion they speak of them.
At its core, Adobe is a company as international as our users. We have offices around the world, and in all our teams worldwide one finds colleagues from all over of the globe: The desire to serve all our international customers with excellence, is deeply engrained in ourselves and is reflected in our daily work.
Adobe’s community translation program is one means to get another step closer to the goal of shipping “world-ready” or “truly global” Adobe products, based on demand expressed and input provided by our customers and user communities around the world.
Why is Adobe building the Adobe Translation Center?
In the past, Adobe pioneered a few community translation programs, resulting in great responses from our users. After a series of pilots, we are now beginning to unify all of Adobe’s community translation efforts in a single place: Adobe Translation Center (ATC).
With engineers, user experience designers, and product managers, ATC has a dedicated product team whose goal it is to provide the best experience for translators from different communities. Building and maintaining such a platform represents a sizable investment for Adobe. However, we believe that the long term gain resulting from a better understanding of our international users, will be worth the effort, time, and investment.
Benefits of community translation
The cooperation between Adobe and its trusted professional translators has been working very well for many years now. This joint effort will continue to be a cornerstone of Adobe’s international success. However, there are some aspects of product translation where the involvement of the user community might have advantages over traditional workflows or may lead to something new altogether.
Feedback and translations through people using our products every day
It is impossible for professional translators to be experts for all products or areas they are translating for. While the professionals’ work for sure will always be correct, the everyday product user might – from time to time – have an edge to provide up-to-date translations.
In the past, we have experienced that a few translations in our products do not reflect the prevailing use of terms by our customers. In this area, we want to use the opportunity to make our translations match our users’ needs and expectations. With similar intent, we are leveraging mechanisms like community voting or commenting, so that translations match the expectations of the community at large and we are not representing isolated feedback.
It is important to note that there will be no “automatic way” for a community translation to enter the final product with review: In order to maintain the quality our products are known for, there will always be trusted moderators and reviewers close to the community who make the decision which string is ready for inclusion in the final product. By the way, only with the help of our partners on the professional translation side, will we be able to achieve scalability and support for the numerous community languages.
Evaluation of more Adobe product languages
Historically, Adobe has shipped in languages that have been representing our core markets: North America, Europe, Japan, Asia. That is a good number of languages already. With now the entire planet as the potential market-place for our products, however, we are constantly facing the question which languages to ship our products in. Currently, it is not possible to translate into all languages of the world due to logistics, cost, and incomplete information about addressable market size.
It is exactly the question which language to take on next, where community translation will help finding an answer by reversing a common mechanism: Instead of having to make assumptions about market sizes and demand for translated products before we ship them, ATC is empowering our users to indicate which languages are important to them and, hence, to us: Community membership size and translation speed for a product language, will be crucial indicators.
Shipping product languages vs. candidates for new languages
There are two different groups of languages which we are making available for community translation:
“Adobe languages” are all languages that are current shipping within a product. For “Adobe languages”, users can provide alternative translations if they discover typographic errors, if a string is too long or clipped, or simply, if they would prefer a different translation over the one that is currently appearing in the product. In our tools, shipping languages will usually appear as 100% translated and reviewed in our tools. Nevertheless, Adobe is looking forward to the community providing us feedback for those languages.
“Community languages” are not shipping with a particular product and we we make them available for community translation. For those languages, there can be different reasons why we are adding them to ATC: A passionate user community that we are aware of in a particular country, or repeated user requests to have a product available in their language, or business reasons on the Adobe side.
Full disclosure: To be perfectly clear, a “community language” which is 100 percent translated by a passionate community will not automatically be shipping with a future version of the product. The business decision which languages to ship, will remain the sole responsibility of the products’ stakeholders. Both the community and Adobe Translation Center team will always have to defer the final decision to the product team.
Why would users engage in community translation?
Users who participate in Adobe’s community translation program have a chance to get involved in the development of their favorite tools. They can directly affect the translation of a product through submitting suggestions.
And even if the translation into a specific language has already been completed, users will continue to have a channel to express their opinion (about translation quality). Or they can help us improving the product through reporting localization bugs in a convenient interface, without the need to go through complex bug reporting systems.
By joining the Adobe community translation program, users will strengthen their local community’s role and impact. In return, they will receive more attention. and, moreover, they have a good chance of influencing the future of an Adobe product, maybe even beyond localization support.
Community translation is already a common way for many companies (Adobe’s peers in the software industry among them) to explore new ways to interact and engage with fans, users, and customers. For Adobe, that type of interaction is one way to better hear the voice of our customers.
We strongly believe that our products will continue to improve because we intend to listen to that voice …