State of the art: multilingual content management
"Why there is a need for tools like Anwiki, specialized in contents internationalization." - Antoine Walter
- Multilingual web in the 21th century
- Technical problems related to multilingual contents
- Technical solutions for publishing multilingual contents on the web
- The Anwiki solution: a revolutionary approach
- Interesting links for further reflection
Multilingual web in the 21th centuryOn the begining of this 21th century, people travels all over the world and speaks several languages.
The emergence of the internet helps people from different nationalities to communicate each others. Thought, the language barrier is still present.
Although alternatives exists in order to communicate in real life, they don't exist or are very unusual on web: how can you surf on a website when it's not available in one of your spoken languages?
Look at the editorial websites you're reading daily. How many are offering multilingual contents (not only a multilingual interface)?
A few ones, isn't it? Don't you think that people speaking other languages could be interested by their contents?
Even Wikipedia, largest multilingual collaborative websites, has difficulties to coordinate contents from many languages.
What can explain that fully multilingual websites are so rare?
Technical problems related to multilingual contentsIt's not easy to create a multilingual website. It always takes time and costs money for website development.
Multilingual publication implicates several actors: administrators of the website, content editors and translators. Their work must be coordinated and integrated in a global process.
In order to achieve their missions, actors need tools adapted to their tasks and to their technical skills.
|Administrator||Advanced (programming languages)||
|Editor||Basic text formatting : text styles (titles, bold, italic)||
Technical solutions for publishing multilingual contents on the webThere are several technical approaches possible for achieving it, but no one is perfect.
Anwiki has been developed to be more efficient than the common approaches detailled below...
The "easy" approach: running parallels websitesYou can run several copies of the same website, sharing the same layout and structure but having contents in different languages.
- It's easy and quick to set-up.
- It's hard to maintain websites synchronized; website will quickly get outdated and will maybe become abandoned for some languages.
- Updating the website is not easy, you need to apply modifications to each parallel website.
- Technical skills may be needed to translate contents.
The developer's approach: externalizing translationsAnother solution is to develop your own dynamic system (which may use existing ones such as gettext) to externalize multilingual contents to structured translation files or databases.
- The website keeps synchronized in every languages
- If you're using translation files or a backend to access to externalized contents, translators can easily translate contents.
- High development skills are required for creating the website
- Development skills are needed for updating contents and creating new ones, as they need to be externalized.
- Publishing process is critically slowed down.
Using a wiki or CMS supporting multilingual contentsThere are plenty CMS and wiki engines. A lot of these are abusively called "multilingual" as their interface are available in several languages. But only a very few number natively supports multilingual contents.
Advantages: (depending on CMS)
- Can handle multilingual contents
- No developer skills are needed to edit and translate contents
Drawbacks: (depending on CMS)
- Most of CMS doesn't support natively multilingual contents. Multilingual support was often added after software conception, or considered as a secondary priority feature.
- Translation process is often boring and ineffective. Multilingual contents are not synchronized, the software assumes that users will do the coordination job.
- When updating contents, translators have to read again the whole document to find out what needs to be updated. Sometimes, they need to open several windows for comparing changes between versions.
- Lack of flexibility for maintaining contents: it's often not possible to apply actions to all translations at once. In example, you can't delete a block of text or reorder paragraphs in all languages at the same time.
The Anwiki solution: a revolutionary approachIn reaction to this sad analysis, Anwiki was developed by focusing primarily on multilingual contents and on the translation process.
After more than a year of development, Anwiki solution is a free, innovative and effective solution to meet this need.
The system guarantees an automatic coordination between multilingual contents thanks to new algorithms applied to highly structured contents.
|Actor||Tools offered by Anwiki|
Note that Anwiki is not only interesting for its multilingual capabilities. Its modular architecture allows to install additional components, override default ones, for adding new features and connecting to any users/sessions/permissions/storage systems.
Check the features list for more information.
Interesting links for further reflection
Here are links discussing about the need and the lack of efficient tools to manage multilingual contents. Feel free to share such links on community forums
- The Cross Lingual Wiki Engine project (CLWE)
- The Cross-Lingual Wiki Engine: Enabling Collaboration Across Language Barriers
- WikiSym 2006 : Paper>>Translation the Wiki Way
- Lizzy Wiki : The Cross Lang Wiki project
- Meatball Wiki : MultilingualWiki
- L-P Huberdeau : I18N Revisited
- L-P Huberdeau : Multilingual Collaborative Websites
- Creating multilingual wikis and wiki engines
- NABBLE : Multilingual Wiki: keeping versions in sync
- [FR] LinuxFr : Wiki/cms : synchro de contenu multilingue