Tutorial Thursday

I don’t know about you but there is a whole world of news out there that I don’t read, and it’s partly because of the language barrier. Services like Google Translate and BabelFish have tried to break down that barrier one step at a time, and while they do offer sitewide translations there is still no good alternative to translate RSS feeds.

I tried passing our site’s feed through Google Translate, but the page that was shot back to me was in the same language that I sent. So there wasn’t really anywhere else to turn but Yahoo! Pipes, which is exactly what I ended up doing. Using Yahoo! Pipes I was able to send an RSS feed through a BabelFish translator, and the result was our English feed being translated to French. I’ll discuss the drawbacks to using such a service, but lets first take a look at how you use Yahoo! Pipes to translate feeds:

  1. Add a feed item by dragging the Fetch Feed module over onto the grid, and then throw the site’s URL into the box.
    Translate an RSS Feed
  2. Now go to the Deprecated menu in the sidebar, and drag the BabelFish module over (there is a Translate module under the String menu, but that doesn’t work). Select the proper language conversion that you want to do, in this case we’re translating our English feed into French.
    Translate an RSS Feed Language
  3. Now you’ve got to connect the dots, litterally! Connect the Fetch Feed to BabelFish, and then connect BabelFish to the Pipe Output. When you hit the Refresh button at the bottom you should see the fruits of your labor:
    Translate an RSS Feed Final
  4. Go ahead and hit the Save button in the upper-right corner of the screen, and give your Pipe a name. Then click the Back to My Pipes link towards the top, and you should see your newly translated feed listed there. Click on it, and then subscribe to it with your feed reader!

There are a few downsides to pushing a feed through BabelFish, and the most obvious would be the poor translation. BabelFish is pretty notorious for turning a perfect sentence into gibber jabber by the time it is done doing its job, but at least you should be able to get some idea of what is being talked about in the article.

The other thing that bothers me a bit is that BabelFish can have a mind of its own sometimes when it comes to translating the data. It always seems to translate at least the titles of the articles, but sometimes the body of the article is left in its native language. Hey, this is free, so don’t be disappointed if you get poor results. :)

Kudos to Webware for coming up with this idea!