API for Language Translation: Benefits and Limitations
The best way to use an API for language translation is to treat it as your automation access point.

A common misconception many people have in regards to using an API for language translation is assuming the responsibility for the work—as well its success or failure—falls on the program. The most successful API users accept it for what it is—a doorway to automation.

When used in their rightful way, APIs are valuable tools in managing workflows. With them, it’s possible to facilitate continuous localization that offers the elegance needed for multilingual site updates. The best way to use an API for language translation is to treat it as your automation access point.

The Benefits of Using an API for Language Translation

Monitoring source materials for updates, creating projects, assigning translators, and downloading and uploading files are administrative time sinks that normally use up a lot of the project manager’s attention—this is where an API comes in. It’s a precursor to accessing many features that will automate these tasks.

You could potentially eliminate the need to create projects and all the other tasks that manage them. For example, you can have an API send bots to your source site every day to check it for changes. When new content is found, it’s submitted for translation projects in all your languages. The files go to linguists based on their prior success scores with your company, and are then completed, reviewed, and pushed live. All this happens with minimal management intervention, thereby automating almost all of the entire project management process.

This allows project managers to focus their efforts where they’re needed most. For example, if translations are delayed, invoices are not as expected, or the results are low-quality, they can immediately work on those specific issues rather than having to split their attention across various tasks. Localization automation allows managers to clearly define their priorities via the use of business rules.

Of course, all of this seamless management is only possible through preparation. If the company doesn’t have the right foundation, the API will not perform as expected. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t realize this and simply blame the API when their program fails.

Why the API May Underperform

Without infrastructure, an API won’t solve anything. Organized content storage is critical so you can easily import content back after it’s updated. For example, you may pull a page from your WordPress site to monitor it for changes and even submit jobs. However, if you don’t have directories in place for all your different languages, those pages will have nowhere to go.

You also have to consider your file structure and how the API accesses it. Whether the file is in JSON or HTML makes a difference, as do variables and structured text treatment. The same goes for how everything is parsed and segmented. Consistency is key; as long as you follow the same rules across the board, the API will work as expected.

These are widespread problems in API implementation. If the structure and storage of the content don’t allow for the function of the API, it will fail. To truly garner the benefit of an automated localization program, you have to put some time into your preparation.

Tips for API Use Preparation

The API needs to come after you’ve established a platform that can support it. A well-mapped, centralized ecosystem is the best preparation you can have to ensure an API’s success. Before rolling out a new program, you’ll want to:

  • Standardize the code: All variables and structured text should be treated the same across the board. A code audit will help you streamline structure and ensure a more straightforward API implementation.
  • Double-check program integrations: Not all programs integrate. It’s vital to double-check any potential conflicts before selecting a platform with an API.
  • Build out your infrastructure: Directories are the maps your API follows to complete its tasks. Build out detailed directories in all your target languages to ensure it always has a path to follow.
  • Run test cases: If APIs are relatively new to you, it may help to write out some test cases in JSON or XML before their implementation. This strategy will help you work the bugs out of your API before it goes live and alert you of any potential issues.

Using an API for language translation can provide a wide range of benefits, like saved time and improved content. However, you need to consider the structure of your content and code before you attempt to roll out such a program. Otherwise, you’ll have an API that doesn’t work as expected or only does half the job. With the right API built upon a robust infrastructure, you can automate much of your project management work and allow leaders to focus their attention where it’s needed most.

Bureau Works can help you leverage an API for language translation the right way—by putting the focus on preparation so you have a content ecosystem that has the capacity to handle it. For more details on how we can help you, contact our team.

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