An application program interface (API) is a set of programming instructions and protocols that allow you to access a web-based software application or tool. The choice of translation API for your business depends on your content and on your decision on how to translate it. Do you prefer machine or human translation? How much content do you have and what’s your translation budget? The answers to these questions help determine the best translation API you should use.
In this post, we list some popular types of APIs and their use cases.
Types of Translator APIs
APIs for automatic translation
They’re also called machine translation APIs and the most popular ones in this category are Google Translate API and Microsoft Translator API. While these are widely used and have large enterprise backing, the quality of the output usually is not good enough for customer-facing content. The raw output can rarely be used without human editing.
Also, many people falsely believe that machine translation is free. Google made its API commercial in 2011, and there are many other paid machine translation engines that require significant investment. But it’s not just money that needs to be invested; you also need time to train the engine in your specific domain. Training also requires that you have access to large amounts of content.
Translation company APIs
If you’re already working with a translation and localization service vendor, you may choose to use its API. While the advantage of this method is that it allows you to leverage human, professional translation–ensuring the best quality–there’s also the risk that you may lock yourself in to your service provider. Not all translation companies allow you to own your translation assets, which are rightfully yours.
You must also consider the capacity of the vendor to support as many languages as you require and the scenarios in which your content complexity might grow. For instance, you may need to translate website content for both desktop as well as mobile platforms. If the vendor is not able to support all these use cases, it will simply slow you down.
Translation platform APIs
If you have enterprise-level translation going, this is the right choice for you. It combines project management capabilities along with many other tools that the underlying translation software provides. However, there are a couple of things that you still need to confirm. For instance, does the platform API use REST, the standard architecture style for translation APIs? Does it provide machine translation integrations? Is uploading source files and downloading translated files easy enough?
There are many other types of translation APIs than those discussed in this post. The key to finding the one most suitable for your company is to understand your own content and global marketing needs.