Linport: Two Container Sizes; One Solution
By: Dr. Alan Melby (Brigham Young University) - Brigham Young University
18 December 2012
As the Linport project progresses, so does its need for active participation and information from translation companies. Read about the distinction between portfolios and packages and the call for real-life translation/localization project data.
Many of the readers of this issue of GALAxy will have already heard of the Language Interoperability Portfolio (Linport) effort, which is part of the GALA Standards Initiative. Even those familiar with Linport should read this article, since it includes recent developments, such as the distinction between portfolios and packages, and since it identifies the urgent need for GALA members to contribute real-life translation/localization project data.
The Origin of Linport in One Paragraph
Linport is the combination of three efforts that originated separately with similar objectives. All three, at first unknown to each other, were developing some kind of container for translation-related payload materials such as source texts, glossaries, translation memories, style guides, and instructions to the translation team, with room for the target text once it is available. All three efforts wanted their container format to be available to all interested parties at no charge, and all three wanted to develop a format that would be implemented by a wide variety of translation technologies and would promote interoperability, efficiency, and quality. The three efforts have merged to form the Linport community.
Two Container Sizes
What was not immediately obvious to Linport participants was that two sizes of containers were needed: a larger container for all aspects of a translation/localization project and a smaller container for one task within a project.
The larger container is called a portfolio, and the smaller container is called a package. A portfolio can be split into multiple packages, each associated with one particular task, such as pre-translation analysis, initial translation, revision, review, terminology consistency checking, layout, proofreading, or post-delivery quality assessment. Once the various tasks have been completed, the resulting packages can be merged back into a modified portfolio. It is crucial to note that both portfolios and packages have adopted the same format for translation specifications and the same standard translation parameters that give structure to specifications. This is crucial to portfolios and packages working together seamlessly.
The Three Streams that have Merged
The three efforts that have combined to form Linportare:
- The Multilingual Electronic Dossier (MED) activity of the Directorate General for Translation of the European Commission;
- The Container project created at the last LISA standards conference, where the insolvency of LISA was announced on March 1, 2011, and subsequently supported by the GALA Standards Initiative; and
- The Interoperability Now! (IN!) initiative.
All three streams of input have made an essential contribution to Linport. The MED activity contributed the basis for the Linport portfolio format. The Container project brought in Structured Translation Specifications, based on what has recently been published as ISO/TS 11669. And the IN! initiative contributed the basis for the Linport package format, which is called a TIPP (Translation Interoperability Protocol Package).
One Solution with Multiple Benefits
An obvious aspect of the value of Linport that should not be left unmentioned is that it offers one unified solution to technology developers. Early discussions with translation tool developers, back in the summer and fall of 2011, made it clear that they would not implement multiple container standards from competing groups, all designed to provide a solution to the same problem, namely, bundling together all the elements of a translation project in a manner that is not tied to any one tool that is used within the multilingual document production chain.
Another requirement for Linport, besides being tool neutral and freely available, is that it support a high degree of interoperability with little or no loss of information as portfolios and packages pass from one tool to another. Lossless exchange of project and task information requires not only standard containers but also standards for the payload inside containers. Payload elements include bi-text formats such as XLIFF, translation memory formats, such as TMX, and termbase formats such as TBX. A detailed discussion of payload interoperability issues will be the subject of future Linport updates.
Another aspect of Linport that should be treated in future updates is the 21 standard translation parameters that have been adopted by Linport and how they support quality translation.
Linport is even relevant to self-contained purely online translation systems so that a snapshot of a translation/localization project at a point in time can be archived for subsequent retrieval and analysis and so that all project participants can use structured translation specifications, based on the ISO guidance document for translation projects (ISO/TS 11669), during all phases of a project, from pre-production, through production, to post-production.
A Host and a Cast of Supporters
Linport is hosted by a non-profit organization, LTAC Global, and forward progress is made possible by on-going support from GALA, the European Commission, various language service companies, content owners, and translation technology developers, the Brigham Young University Translation Research Group, and interested individuals. Nevertheless, even more participation is needed. Visit the Linport website to participate.
Awareness to a Variety of Stakeholder Groups
Linport community members have presented at several recent events in order to promote awareness and increase involvement:
- A live demonstration of passing a TIPP from one translation tool to another was given during a session of Localization World in June.
- A presentation about Linport was given at tekom in order to inform the broader technical communication community [get details from Arle].
- A GALA webinar about Linport was held at no charge to participants (20 September)
- A face-to-face meeting of Linport community members, held in conjunction with Localization World Seattle in October 2012, included Klemens Waldhör, of the TAUS Translation API project, in order to coordinate with this non-competing project.
- A presentation about standards at the 2012 conference of the American Translators Association included a description of Linport (October 2012, San Diego).
- The International Telecommunications Union hosted a webinar for the JIAMCATT community in November 2012. (JIAMCATT brings together the translation and terminology departments of a number of international organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization.)
- The 34th Translating and the Computer conference featured an invited presentation about Linport (November 2012, London).
- Linport will be the subject of a session at GALA 2013 in Miami next March.
What Linport Needs Now
How GALA members can help the Linport effort continue to make progress:
- contribute data from real translation/localization projects;
These data will be used for testing the Linport data models for portfolios and packages and the proof-of-concept software to build and process portfolios.
- join the Linport community and participate in the testing process and the refinement of the data models; and
Participate in monthly conference calls and in the Linport discussion group.
- support the Linport project by contributing money to cover operational expenses.
Financial contributions can be through the GALA Standards Initiative, the Brigham Young University Center for Language Studies (earmarked for Linport), or LTAC Global.
Once the Linport data models and proof-of-concept software have been validated, the next steps will be:
- implementation by early adopters and
- submission of what we call a "blueprint" to an industry standards body such as Oasis or ETSI, to be made quickly into an industry standard.
Call for Action
If you are part of an organization that owns or produces content and translates or localizes into one or more languages or if you work at a language services company, please consider contributing translation project data, including source texts, resources, instructions to the translation team, and, if the project has been completed, target texts. Of course, these data must be either non-confidential or "sanitized" to remove confidential bits of information. Visit the Linport website (www.linport.org) soon and contribute generously, especially complex, multilingual project data.
Alan K. Melby is Professor of Linguistics at Brigham Young University, where he is also the director of the Translation Research Group. He is active in ISO Technical Committee 37 and the American Translators Association. He is also chair of the Translation Technology Committee of FIT (the international federation of translators). His interest in translation technology dates back to 1970, when he started working on machine translation. Later, his interests have expanded to tools for human translators, philosophy of language, and translation-related standards.