Microsoft Translator API Service Announcement for Bing AppID Users

I received a letter from Microsoft today which announced changes to the Microsoft Translator API service. We are using Microsoft’s API in our GTS Translation WordPress plugin. We are very happy with Microsoft’s service and would recommend this API to developers who would like to integrate machine translation in their software.

Here is the announcement. There are some links at the end of the announcement which you can use to find out more about the API.

Dear Translator Partner,

You are receiving this communication because you are using a Bing AppID to call the Microsoft Translator API service.

This service announcement is to inform you that Microsoft Translator is deprecating the Bing AppID mechanism and replacing it with an access token which supports a more secure standards-based authentication (OAuth).  If you already made this switch, you may disregard this announcement.

To continue using the Microsoft Translator API service without interruptions, you must obtain an access token by April 1, 2012.

To use our service with an access token, please follow the steps below:

  1. Subscribe to the service through Windows Azure Marketplace.  Free service is still available at a volume usage limit of 2 million characters per month.
  2. Register your application on Marketplace (keep your Client ID and Client Secret confidential).
  3. Obtain an access token here.

Will I need to do anything else with my application when I migrate?

Yes, you will need to make slight modifications to your application by following the instructions here.

What happens if I don’t migrate from a Bing AppID to an access token?

When the Bing Translator AppID is deprecated, it will no longer be valid and you will not have access to the service.

What is the cost to subscribe to the Microsoft Translator API service?

We offer a free service subscription tier in addition to higher volume subscriptions at $10.00 USD per 1 million characters.

Can Microsoft support volumes higher than what is listed on Windows Azure Marketplace? 

Yes.  Please send your usage scenario along with your hourly or daily volume throughput estimations (in characters) to the Microsoft Translator Licensing team alias at mtlic@microsoft.com.

Additional Translator API resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Developer Offerings

Widget

Thank you for using the Microsoft Translator API.

Made in Europe: online translation resources you should know about

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union. The 754 Members of the European Parliament are there to represent you, the citizen. They are elected once every five years by voters right across the 27 Member States of the European Union on behalf of its 500 million citizens. (from European Parliament website)

I did not know much about the European Parliament until I received an email the other day from DGTRAD, the Directorate General for Translation of the European Parliament. DGTRAD is a unit that networks about 100 terminologists spread across the various language units in the European Union.

European Union legislation is drafted in 23 official languages. Translation is an integral part of the process of elaborating and adopting legal acts. Thousands of translators in the European institutions cover 506 language combinations, a mechanism which must be regularly brought into line with constantly evolving language-related issues. The main aims of DGTRAD are to facilitate terminology research and production.

The terminology research and the repositories which are the result of intensive work by DGTRAD are also used to improve the quality of the Machine Translation (MT) systems used by the EU. In 2011, the European Parliament’s translation units translated over 1.5 million pages in all languages. Renato Beninatto wrote an excellent post last month about MT in the EU which describes some of the work that the EU is doing in that field. Clearly MT is an important topic at the EU as the demand for translation services increases.

Here are some great online resources that are provided by the EU:

  • IATE (Interactive Terminology for Europe). This website incorporates all of the terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into one searchable resource. Provides online translation of terms across 24 languages.
  • The DGTRAD website provides a wide range of glossaries which can be useful to translators and anyone who is working with the EU.
  • Translation 2.0: Multilingual Terminology Search Engine
  • EMM News Explorer: major news stories in various languages including tools that allow comparing how the same events have been reported in different languages.

Fueled by the global economy, patent translation services are on the rise

Patent translation is currently one of the fastest growing and most active segments in the translation industry. It makes sense. As the economy is becoming more-and-more global, patent filing is on the rise and an increasing number of companies and inventors are filing for patent protection globally.

The significance of patent information has grown steadily with the creation of a global technology market reflected in a new record of 1.8 million patent filings worldwide in 2010. Despite the economic downturn, filings at the EPO increased again in 2011, to 243 000 (from EPO website)

So last week’s news about the Welocalize merger with patent translation company Park IP Translations should come as no surprise to anyone.  And I have a personal story about this as well. Last summer GTS received an invitation to bid on a RFP for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world; the annual activity on this account is well over $1 Million. I spoke to some of my contacts at the large translation companies and asked if they would like to cooperate on a bid. One of the people I contacted was Welocalize CEO Smith Yewell. Smith responded by saying that he is not interested since Welocalize does not have experience in the field of patent translation. I think that this speaks highly of Smith, who chose to pass on a potentially lucrative opportunity and not risk entering grounds that he is not entirely familar with.

In other news:

WIPO RFP for professional patent translation services

The  World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is going to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) for professional translation of WIPO patents in the near future.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN) system of organizations, is dedicated to promoting the use and protection of intellectual property throughout the world, including the administration of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The Organization has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

WIPO is about to issue a Call for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the Request for Proposal (RFP) N° PTD/12/003 for the provision of professional services for the translation of WIPO documents from English into one or more of the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

Status of EPO/Google machine translation project

In November 2010 the EPO announced an agreement it had reached with Google to provide machine translation of EPO patents in about 28 languages. I had the opportunity to speak with EPO spokesman Mr. Oswald Schröder who provided some interesting information.

So far, EPOs Espacenet website provides MT of patents in 7 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. These languages were expedited since the EPO had an existing rule-based MT system with loads of parallel corpora. Mr. Schröder anticipates that most of the EU languages will be ready on Espacenet by the end of 2012.

The EPO recently entered agreements with the Japanese and Chinese patent offices (see a recent press release about it here). The Japanese and Chinese patent offices are providing their translation corpora which will be used to train the Google system.

A similar written agreement has been reached with the Russian patent office. The agreement will be finalized soon. An agreement with the Korean patent office is close as well, but the appointment of a new Korean patent office commissioner is imminent and the agreement will be finalized by the new commissioner. Mr. Schröder anticipates that most of the non-EU languages will be ready on Espacenet by the end of 2013.

Over 10 man years have been invested in the EPO/Google MT project in the last year. The agreement is entirely non-commercial (which means that Google gets no money from the deal). According to Mr. Schröder, the EPO wants to make translation of global patents widespread and available so that people will be able to find relevant prior art from any country in the world. Mr. Schröder said that many companies sustain major financial damage (or go bankrupt) when they file for a patent, only to learn later that the same patent was already filed in another country (making the patent worthless). The EPO language project will help companies avoid those pitfalls. This interest is shared by many patent agencies in other countries, as proven by the recent agreements.

WIPO parallel patent translation corpus

The WIPO has made available 10 years of parallel English-French corpus of WIPO’s PCT applications (title and abstract) published between 1990 and 2010 in TMX format. Interesting. Jaap van der Meer, did you know about this?

5 biggest translation industry events in 2011

With 2011 nearly gone, most of you are already deep in the holiday spirit and probably thinking of things other than work. So what better time than now to summarize the biggest events in our industry in 2011? In my opinion, 2011 was not a very exciting in the translation industry. A “Top 10″ list would have been better, but I found it hard to stretch it beyond 5. Ready? Here’s my list:

  1. Google becomes a translation vendor. This was a tidal wave in the relatively calm waters of the translation industry: Google got millions of people hooked by providing unlimited, free machine translation for several years. In May, 2011 they announced that the free lunch is over. This caused shock among many people both in and out of the industry. It upset many people, especially developers who created products around the free translations. Google then added more fuel to the fire by announcing a few weeks later that it was making the API a paid option.
  2. Microsoft strengthens its position in MT. 2011 will have proven to be a watershed year for the Bing Translator team at Microsoft Research. When Google made its dramatic announcement, Bing Translator chief Chris Wendt swiftly announced that Microsoft will continue to provide free API services. This won over a lot customers, who came to distrust Google. And when Bing made the terms of their commercial license known, it was done in an understated way that did not cause any of the histrionics associated with Google’s announcement.
  3. Translation startups get serious. In 2011 several startup companies like Smartling, MyGengo and Cloudwords raised Millions of dollars from VCs to deploy online translation services. With that kind of money being invested these companies will surely make their presence felt in the years to come and will compete with veteran companies in the translation services market. These companies will also help propagate some of the new work-flows that people are talking about recently like crowdsourcing and post-edited machine translation.
  4. Facebook machine translation integration. In 2011 Facebook integrated Microsoft Translation to enable its users to read messages that are in different languages. This should be an industry driver and will help advance machine translation technology, due the size and influence that Facebook carries in the world. Will Facebook stay with Microsoft? Will they develop their own tools? Will Microsoft develop new tools for Facebook? I don’t have the answers but I am positive that Facebook will work at making cross-language communication different and better than what it is today.
  5. Transperfect acquisition of Worldlingo. Transperfect is one of the biggest translation companies and it will be interesting to see if they can grow Worldlingo as an online translation business; and if selling translations online will become a significant part of their business.

What didn’t we see in 2011? We did not see any significant advances in speech-to-speech translation. In recent years IBM, Microsoft and Google made a lot of announcements about speech-to-speech translation R&D. But these announcements did not turn into any new commercial products or services in 2011. We also did not see any revolutionary new translation products for mobile smartphones. I hope we see some exciting new translation products in 2012.

Merry Christmas to everyone! Happy Holidays, Dave

Google Translate API Casualties. A partial list

On December 1, 2011 Google shut down the free version of its Translate API (v1) and informed that all users would have to switch over to the paid Translate API version (V2). As many of us have anticipated, this ended the party for many companies that enjoyed free translation services. Here is a partial list of websites/products that have discontinued free translation services to at least some extent.

  • Ackuna, the Cloud Translator. The website is still there but the free translation has not been working in the last 24 hours. (Ackuna is owned by Translation Services USA, see next on the list).
  • Translation Services USA. This company switched over to the Microsoft Translator API so some of the languages work. But some of the languages (like Welsh and Yiddish) which Microsoft does not support are not working.
  • Ortsbo. This company also switched over to the Microsoft Translator API and some languages work. But some of the languages don’t work even though they remain as menu selection options.
  • Lingo24. This company has discontinued its free online translation services.
  • AsiaTranslate.net. This company has discontinued its free online translation services.
  • ToLingo. This company has discontinued its free online translation services.
  • Transperfect Transimage. This is an iPhone app developed by Transperfect which ran on the Google Translate API. It no longer works. I am betting that there are more free translation apps for smartphones that no longer work.

There are also a lot of websites that used free widgets that were powered by Google Translate V1 or that used scripts that called the deprecated API. You will be able to see some of them by doing a search on “Unable to perform Translation: Please use Translate v2.” Google terms this as a Terms of Service Abuse, click here for more details.