Simplifying Translation Process

Transcope (2016)


Translating design articles from English to Korean is one of my hobbies. It accomplishes two things; improving my English and giving Korean designers access to great content.

What I realized after trying to find a simple application to improve my translation process is that the translation tools on the market now are very much focused solely on professional translators, thus they're too complicated and usually expensive.

The tech industry seems to only be interested in machine translation for decades, but there's still no single book that is solely translated by machine. That's because translating isn't just about replacing words or sentences, it's more an understanding of the original text, then re-writing it in a new language while trying to keep as much as of the original text.

Thus, I highly doubt that machine translation is going to replace human translators soon. It could happen in our lifetime, but that's going to be the point where almost everyone loses their jobs to machines.

And that's the reason I decided to start developing a translator app for humans, in the era of machine translation.

Transcope is preparing for beta testing in early 2017.

Transcope Preview

Transcope has been developed purely by Javascript, without any framework. It runs on Firebase's real-time database, which makes the loading and updating processes almost seamless. I've also used Google Translate API to enable a Machine Translation feature, to help translators who prefer to have a starting point performed by machine, and a Word Definition feature as well.

I keep trying to find a balance where it's easy and obvious enough to use without an introductory tutorial, and also professional enough to be able to cover most of the translation process.


Creating a new document

With the initial version of Transcope, a document can have three different levels of formatting: Heading, Sub-heading and Paragraph. Transcope automatically divides the whole text into paragraphs and sentences, so users can work sentence by sentence. More advanced formatting options such as lists and block quotes will be supported later with updates.

Auto scrolling

I know that translators don't like to use a mouse while concentrating on translating, just as developers don't like using a mouse either. One of my efforts to reduce the role of the mouse was to make the scroll automatic. It was slightly more complicated than I expected, because the length of sentences can vary. I also didn't want to fix a height position by myself, so that users would have more flexibility with their own working style.

When a user hits the enter key, the document scrolls from the current paragraph's top point to the next paragraph's top point. This ensures that the position of the activated paragraph always stays the same.

Simple word definition

Users can easily see the definitions of words that they're going to translate by just clicking the input interface. It gets the data from Google Translator API, based on the original and target languages they chose when creating the document.

Machine translation

In most cases, the quality of machine translation isn't good enough to use as output, but it can be a starting point for translators to work on, which can save some time. Just by clicking the 'Machine Translation' link at the bottom left will get the Google Translator's results into the input field, so users can start making changes to it.

List sorting

jQuery UI is the only Javascript library that's been used while developing the initial version of Transcope that's for the drag-and-drop list sorting feature. This makes the sorting intuitive and easy.