TranslateLocally is available as an extension for Firefox and as a native desktop app for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and like Firefox Translations, it grew out of the European Union’s Bergamot project. There are similarities with Firefox translations, but there are also differences highlighted in this article. I’m also discussing the future of Firefox translations.
Bergamot, Firefox translation, local translation?
Within the framework of funded by the European Union bergamot project Mozilla has partnered with the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the University of Tartu (Estonia), the University of Sheffield (England), and Charles University (Czech Republic) to provide complete client-side machine translation of websites for browser development. This means that the translation takes place entirely in the browser and no content has to be sent to be translated to a data giant like Google or Microsoft.
Firefox translations emerged from this collaboration. Mozilla’s Firefox extension allows translation of entire websites right in the browser.
The Bergamot project was funded by the European Union with three million euros. In June 2022, the Bergamot project officially ended after 3 and a half years.
TranslateLocally was originally created as Bergamot translations of Firefox translations and was used to test changes before finally implementing them in Firefox translations. TranslateLocally is now an independent development by members of the University of Edinburgh, while Mozilla takes full responsibility for Firefox Translations.
Translate locally instead of Firefox translations
TranslateLocally offers basically the same functionality as Firefox translations: translate entire websites. But there are also some differences.
The most obvious difference is that TranslateLocally does not use the translation bar, which Firefox supports only, but is implemented as a toolbar button with a panel, which makes the extension technically usable for other browsers. There is already one demo support from google chrome. However, there is still no final version for this that the user can simply install with one click.
TranslateLocally does not only allow translation of full websites. It is also possible to translate individual sentences via context menu entry.
In contrast to Firefox translations, the translation of the form and the optional display of the translation quality indicator are missing. The TranslateLocally interface is currently only available in English.
TranslateLocally as a native desktop app
For use without a browser, TranslateLocally is available as a desktop application for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Below are links to download a file Site Currently not in current versions, which is necessary to connect to the Firefox extension (see below), which is why I refer to Downloads at GitHub.
The advantage of the desktop application over implementation as a browser extension is better translation speed. Other language models can also be imported via the desktop application. TranslateLocally supports any language model supported by Marian supported.
Faster translation in Firefox via desktop app
Anyone who has the desktop app installed can also take advantage of its features in Firefox. Once the desktop application is launched at least once, it is recorded for so-called native messages with the Firefox extension. Then, in the Firefox extension settings, TranslateLocally can be selected instead of the built-in WASM implementation. The Firefox extension now uses the desktop app to translate in the background, which means that translation speed and any imported language models are also available for Firefox.
But what does all this mean for Firefox translations?
Of course, the question inevitably arises is what all this means for Firefox translations. With the Bergamot project over, things have calmed down around Firefox translations. But there is no cause for concern. The development of Firefox translations has been resumed in the past few days, and indeed the release of a Firefox translations update is imminent. In addition to other changes, it will also be possible in Firefox’s translations not only to translate entire websites. All new features of the upcoming update will be discussed in a separate article as soon as the new version becomes available.
What about support for other languages?
The primary question for extending translation is of course support for other languages. There’s good news here too, on September 1st the show will be one new project In the European Union with a value of approximately four million euros, under which language models for 50 high-quality language pairs will be generated by the end of August 2025. Both Firefox and TranslateLocally translations will benefit from this.
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