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Common Sense Advisory Blogs
Translation Proxy’s Role in Global Content Strategy
Posted by Benjamin B. Sargent on October 3, 2018  in the following blogs: Technology, Web Globalization, Global Marketing
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Offering a website, mobile app, or enterprise application in another language can require a laborious and costly development project with specialized translation technology, workflows, and personnel.

Some major brands have taken a simpler approach, instead relying on a translation proxy server that works alongside their websites or apps. In this model, the proxy intercepts requests to the application, determines the language, and then turns to a database of stored translations or to machine translation to fulfill the request.



For example, a proxy grabs visible text out of a web page on its way to the browser and swaps it out for the equivalent content in the language of the visitor. In practice, this approach allows a single-language website to be served in any number of other tongues, while retaining the same layout, JavaScript, and other functions. Proxies can also swap out images, videos, links, style sheets – or hidden text such as metadata important for SEO. In short, it responds to requests by pulling a payload of encoded content such as HTML, XML, or JSON then modifies the data and sends it along to the requesting device.

Twenty years in the making, the proxy option has earned its place in global content operations for enterprises and LSPs and in the stacks of translation management system (TMS) vendors. Technology vendors such as Qordoba and Smartling include proxies as part of their offering, as do service providers such as MotionPoint, Translations.com, and Venga.

Where should the translation proxy server fit in your localization strategy? CSA Research views it as a content connector that can also function as an application programming interface (API) or as a translation management system (TMS).

  • Translation proxies link to translated data stores, machine translation engines, or both. In some cases, the proxy pulls strings from a multilingual human-translated table, database, code repository, or TMS. In other cases, it submits new content to an MT engine, piping the real-time output directly back into the HTML, as it sends the requested page with replacement text to the browser.

  • Caching keeps language versions in sync. Not all apps lend themselves to such page caching, but most websites do. Caching temporarily stores a page in memory to load faster. Translation proxies use the caches to keep the previous version of a page live while updates go through one or more human touches to translate or validate MT output. Once the translation shows as complete in the data store, the proxy triggers a cache refresh. The cache may be hosted on the user’s own server infrastructure or it may take advantage of edge services, such as a content delivery network. Hosting cached pages around the world results in faster load times – especially critical for mobile device users, the primary target in many markets.

  • Advanced systems support staging servers and WYSIWYG editing. Some deployments rely on a staging server to detect and translate new or changed content in application environments that don’t cache static pages. Systems with onboard translation tools may allow in-context editing of content. Support for international SEO and fine-tuned control for mixing in local promotions, assets, links, and pages make today’s proxy solutions more flexible and responsive to brand needs.

Despite the initial struggles for early adopters of proxy solutions – now long past – the technology has ensconced itself as an easy and durable choice in the industry, shifting from stopgap to permanent solution in many large-scale deployments. Brands should consider proxy as a standard option, along with API-level integrations and other pre-built content connector types.

 

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Related Research
Using Proxy Servers to Make Website Globalization Easier
Re-assessing Translation Proxy Solutions
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