autonomy_logo_2009.jpgRemember when WordPress (news, site) was like, Hey guys! Check out my new multilingual support, because on top of a being *the* most popular blogging platform in all the land, I’m also on the way to being a complete content management cure-all!

Ok, WordPress didn’t actually say that. But the team behind WPML, the mega-plugin for multilingual functionality within Wordpress, no doubt has intentions along those lines. Back with more finesse to impress, OnTheGoSystems has released what they’re calling a “major update” to WPML, which reportedly integrates human translation services.

WordPress, Can We Taaalk, For a Minute?

Our imagined answer: Yes, yes we can. And we can do it in many different languages.

The WPML plugin allows a single site built in WordPress to run multiple languages. After installation and setup, each page, post, tag or category will have a new section for translations. This section allows switching from one language to the other and adding translations to existing content.

The problem? The translating had to be done manually, meaning if you have a lot of content, you’d have a lot of work cut out for you.

Let the Translating Begin

To the relief of many interested parties, a little over a month ago, the folks over at WPML announced that they were working on releasing translation integration. Today that dream has been realized. The new feature allows users to run a multilingual site without manually doing their own translations. All the documents (posts or pages) that a user selects are sent to professional human translators who do all the dirty work for them.

Currently, OnTheGoSystems’ translators work in English, Spanish, German, Japanese and Chinese. All content is reportedly managed automatically by the plugin, in a very behind-the-scenes manner (translators write the text, but the plugin takes care of all the formatting, linking and site structure).

According to OnTheGoSystems, other benefits to the new perk include:

  • The plugin remembers what needs to be translated, what’s current and what needs to be updated
  • Documents are sent and received from a centralized translation dashboard
  • WPML automatically manages links between translated documents, so that translated documents link to other translated documents, and not to the original language
  • Site structure is automatically synchronized between the original language and the translation (page parents, categories, tags, page order, sections, mini-homes, etc.)

Lost in Translation

If you don’t want some random person’s grubby mitts all over your text, worry not; the new translation service is, of course, completely optional. As Amir Helzer, manager at OnTheGoSystems puts it, “If you don’t need help with translation, just ignore it and that’s it.”

That’s not exactly the kind of push we’re used to, especially when we’re talking about  new tools, or, what OnTheGoSystems refers to as, “the first solid release of WPML," but perhaps that’s because they’ve still got some winning functionality under the hood.

On the WPML blog, Helzer writes, “Remember our poll, asking what you’re using WPML for? The results are in. As of today 72% of the voters are using either just the multilingual or both multilingual and navigation. The rest 28% are using WPML only for its navigational elements.”

As a result, the announced upcoming features of the next release revolve around multilingual functionality, and include:

  • The translation of free texts (such as widget titles, taglines, etc.)
  • The ability to translate custom fields used by other plugins
  • The support of multilingual links in themes

Seriously, Let’s Talk

As we’re sure you’re all aware, plugins like WPML need all the help they can get, especially in these early stages. If you’d like to see WPML grow to its full potential, stop by the forums and drop your two cents.

Helzer says, “If it ran smooth before and is still running smooth, we’d like to know. If there were problems before and it’s working better now, we’d like to know. If it worked before and doesn’t quite work now, we’d like to know.

Get the idea? - We want to know.”