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OASIS Converges on Translation, Localization

OASIS Tuesday said its members have decided to hash out standards to automate the translation and localization process as a Web service.

Common Web services partners IBM and Microsoft will be joined by DataPower, Oracle, SAP and the Localisation Research Centre to use Web services as the backbone to a workflow linking the tasks that comprise an intricate software localization project.

Localization of a Web service is the ability for publishers to submit content that requires translation, request quotes or other services from vendors, and for each party to understand what the other needs. Standard metadata must be used to make this happen.

OASIS Translation Web Services Technical Committee Chairman Peter Reynolds discussed the importance of translation and localization for Web services.

"Any publisher of content requiring translation should be able to automatically connect to and use the services of any translation vendor over the Internet without previous direct communication," Reynolds said. "Web services hold enormous potential for improving the way localization business is conducted, but first the industry must come together to agree on standards."

ZapThink Senior Analyst Ron Schmelzer agreed and said this particular standard must be as open as possible.

"Localization is definitely a "no-brainer" standardization activity to do with Web Services," Schmelzer told internetnews.com. "For products that work together, especially translation and formatting products, localization is the sort of activity that shouldn't be a proprietary operation."

Schmelzer said some of the reasons for this prevailing point of view are that localization is often very costly, error prone, and resource intensive. Overall, he said, the OASIS move may get the Web services realm closer to a holy grail of sorts.

"Also, movements to simplify translation and localization, in some ways, gets us closer to the goal of semantic integration -- a holy grail of integration where systems cannot only communication with each other, but understand each other as well."

Schmelzer's colleague, fellow ZapThink Senior Analyst Jason Bloomberg, agreed.

"The OASIS translation and localization technical committee aims to simplify and streamline the work of human translators more so than machine translation programs, and as such, breaks new ground in the development of standards-based workflow applications," Bloomberg told internetnews.com. "For those people who still see Web Services as being primarily for synchronous remote procedure call (RPC) applications, this move by OASIS should be a wakeup call that Web Services have a much broader applicability."

The member parties forged a technical committee as the foundation for their work, as is OASIS's modus operandi. The firms said they will begin the process by defining service types that are relevant to the software/content localization and translation industry. They hope their specification will drive the development of Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) documents that will be published in a Universal Description and Discover Integration (UDDI) registry and, quite possibly, in an ebXML registry.

The OASIS Translation Web Services Technical Committee will coordinate its efforts with the XLIFF Technical Committee, which works to develop an XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF). The Translation Web Services technical committee will define standard interfaces between the different actors that work together in a distributed software localization process. As data moves through the localization actors, XLIFF tools can be used at a lower cost.