Translation interoperability at Tekom tcworld 2012

I’m at Tekom tcworld 2012, in Wiesbaden. These are my notes from a session by Arle Lommel titled, “Linport: A New Standard for Translation Interoperability”.

Arle published this blurb about the session:

In 2011 the Globalization and Localization Association, the European Commission Directorate General for Translation, and the Brigham Young University Translation Research Group began work on an open, standards-based container for translation projects. Known as the Linport Project, it has brought together language technology developers who have agreed to implement the resulting specification. Additional collaboration with the Interoperability Now! group is leading toward a joint specification that promises to overcome technical fragmentation that leads to inefficiency in translation processes. This presentation describes the Linport format and its use in a globalization production chain.

Note: Linport is not yet a standard. They are working towards its becoming a standard.

What is Linport?

Linport is the Language INteroperability PORTfolio.

At present Linport consists of two related zip-encoded formats:

  • A portfolio for presenting translation projects.
  • A package for representing individual tasks. Packages can ge generated from portfolios, and you can combine packages to create a portfolio.

Linport also contains standardised metadata which is very important in translation.

Linport is a format that can be applied to various types of content, including different formats. It’s based on recognised open standards such as XML, XLIFF, TMX etc. It allows you to standardise, but doesn’t force that where it’s not possible.

It supports tasks such as translation, proof-reading, authoring.

The intention is that Linport be used at any point where you need to exchange data, such as between clients and translation vendors, and between translators and their employers. It allows all relevant resources to be sent together. It streamlines the transmission of data and reduces costs and confusion.


Arle summarised the aim of Linport: Simplified interchange.

Arle described the current processes in the translation industry: very manual, with people transferring data haphazardly. Individual small items are transferred, with a lot of manual routing and work. This adds costs, time, and potential for error.

As a result, only a small portion of time and cost in a translation project currently goes into the actual translation: approximately 30%. Translators themselves only spend about 50% of their time doing the actual translation. So, it’s possible that only about 15% of what you pay for translation goes into the actual translation.

The real cost savings therefore would come from speeding up processes. Eliminate the manual transactions.

Arle compared the goals to shipping containers. A very simple specification (dimensions, strength, and corner locking devices) yields a very powerful result.

Linport aims to be the “shipping container” for the translation and localisation community.

Specific features: structured translation specifications

A definition of quality:

A quality translation achieves needed accuracy and fluency, while meeting specifications that are appropriate to end-user needs.

Arle showed us the specific standards that Linport is based on. It’s designed to eliminate most points of confusion.

You can go to this URL to get the specs:

At the heart of Linport is the idea that, when running a translation project, we document everything up front, so that there is no possibility of confusion. For example, document the required target language. This seems obvious, but Arle has seen occasions where that is not given.

Areas of the specifications are:

  • A: Linguistic. These define the requirements for the source content and the target content. For example, for the source: textual characteristics, specialised language, volume, complexity. On the target side, the target language, audience, purpose, file format, and so on.
  • B: Production. Is it OK to use machine translation. Translation memory.
  • C. Environment. Special workplace requirements, such as secure facility. Technology. Reference materials.
  • D. Relationships. Payment, copyright, communication.

Linport provides STS files: Structured Translation Specifications. These are standardised formats as XML files. The assumption is that people will use templates to supply the information.

Tool demo

Arle gave us a demo of an open source tool under development in the Linport project, to make the formats accessible to people. The tool presents a form for you to complete, supplying the data required for the specifications.

Another function allows you to create a TIPP file, which is the one that goes out to be translated. You can choose the format, from some known standards. A TIPP file is a zip file, containing:

  • a manifest,
  • the source text to be translated,
  • and the structured specifications.

The TIPP file can be more complex, for example including the translation memory.

Go to, to try the tools yourself. Sign up for an account. It’s entirely free and open, and Linport will value your input. You can also send feedback to

Current state

The team is finalising the structural details. They hold monthly conference calls, mainly to resolve minor details. Arle feels that they are approaching a stable specification (not available yet).

They’re working on early implementation, and already seeing early adoption. Some organisations are in beta stages of the implementation. Linport is working to gain implementation commitments, and some organisations are close to giving those commitments.

The team are building the online Linport tools, which will be open source. All the documentation and tools will be available free of charge. See the demo and URL above.

They’re also moving towards testing with real data in larger volumes.

Further development

The team is working towards finalising all the small details of formatting. When they reach consensus, they want to submit Linport to a standards body: ETSI or OASIS.

They also plan to improve the Linport apps, making them more user friendly. They also want to implement Linport in more tools and in more DGT production tasks.

You can go to for details about getting involved.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 25 October 2012, in Tekom tcworld and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: