Recently I attended the August Penguin – an annual half day event about Linux and open source. The Penguin, specifically a cute Penguin names Tux, is the logo of the Linux operating system.
During the one of the breaks I ran into Amir Aharoni, a linguist and a software developer who works for Wikimedia, the organization behind Wikipedia. He told me he was about to give a talk about Wikipedia's new translation interface and asked if I might want to help demonstrate it. I was going to attend the talk anyway, so, I said, sure.
We selected a short entry that existed in the Hebrew Wikipedia and had no equivalent in the English version. It was the entry about the Israeli composer Hanoch Jacoby Amir started his talk, and at some point called me to the stage to start translating while he explained what I was doing.
The translation interface is a two column interface with source language on the left hand side, and the target language on the right hand side. It simplifies tasks such as copying images from one version to the other, copying the article structure, formatting, and footnotes. It also has some terminology management based on information already in other Wikipedia articles that already exist in both languages. This enables automatically "translating" internal links to Wikipedia articles in the source language to links to the equivalent articles in the target language, should they exist.
The interface is only available when starting the entry in the target language. If you stop the editing and want to continue it later, you get the regular editing interface. I suppose one could keep an open tab on a machine you keep on anyway, or just focus on things that would most benefit from the interface during the initial session on any given entry.
I've translated both using word processors and various CAT tools. While this is not a full features CAT tool, I found the experience very convenient and I plan to use it again.
I've done very little Wikipedia editing so far. Later Amir completed the new entry and cleaned it up.
This was the first time I did a written translation in front of an audience. A few years back I did a couple of stints of interpreting, which, by its very nature tends to have an audience. For written translation there is rarely any reason to do it that way. So this was an unusual experience for me. Unusual in a good way.
Amir Aharoni is one of the developers of this interface, and involved with other i18n and l11n stuff within Wikimedia, and also blogs in four languages. His Hebrew and English blogs, the ones I can read, are part of the Translation Israel Planet, and are חיפושים כמשל and Aharoni in Unicode, ya mama.