Exciting things afoot at Clay Tablet…

You may have noticed posting has been fairly light around here the past few weeks – needless to say things have been a little hectic. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s been happening:

Clay Tablet Version 2.0

Most of my time has been spent as we put the finishing touches on version 2 of our product. It’s been an amazing process to take everything we’ve learned from the past few years and roll it into a new version of the product.

As we’ve moved through the past couple of years we’re the first to admit that the Clay Tablet software has meandered a bit as it attempted to wiggle into it’s space in the market. Clients, partners and even good old curiosity have a habit of pulling you in various directions and what we’ve learned is there’s a fine-line to walk in the middle ware game. It’s very easy to stray off the path and suddenly find yourself building out a TMS or a CMS.

So for this version we stepped back, stripped the product right back to the drawing board and then only put back the parts that were needed to make this the best of breed integration software for connecting Content Management Systems to Translation Management Systems & Technologies.

We also moved Clay Tablet 2.0 away from .Net and over to Java – so we can now run in virtually any operating environment and it’s been built from the ground up to support total flexibility from an infrastructure point of view. Databases, message queues and operating systems can all be adjusted to support the operating environments of our clients.

As the sign above says, the paint is still a little wet but we’re starting to do demos in the coming weeks – if you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been up to swign by our site and sign up for a webinar or demo.

Speaking of the Site…

New Clay Tablet Site

You can’t have a new product without a new site now, can you… While not busting my hump on the new product I’ve been spending a lot of time working with the marketing team to get our new site up and running. Swing by the new Clay-tablet.com and learn more about our integration software for the translation industry.


Last but not least, one of our core focuses as a business has been assembling the best set of partners in the translation industry. Our close relationships with both content and translation technology providers are what makes Clay Tablet a unique offering in this space.

With custom developed integrations between your content and translation systems you’re at constant risk of a patch, update or new version tanking your entire infrastructure on you.

To help prevent that we work closely with technology vendors so any surprises happen in our labs, not in your production environment. Because we can amortize this effort across all of our clients we can support a broad range of technologies much more efficiently than one-to-one or custom connections.

In the past couple of weeks we’ve had a couple of big announcements from a partnership point of view.

Today, we’re pleased to announce, we’ve signed a strategic partnership with SDL and to get their line of Global Content & Translation Management products connected to Clay Tablet. We’ve actually had Teamworks 2 & 3 support for a number of years now but we’re thrilled at the opportunity to expand our connectivity to their flagship TMS product.

This news, combined with our across announcement a few weeks ago, has caused a lot of buzz internally. We’re looking forward to taking the wraps off of some of the other connections we have in development in the coming months.

So, all-in-all, a really interesting and exciting day at Clay Tablet. If you’re at Localization World Seattle, stop by the booth (Booth #3)- Robinson and David are both down there for the week (I’m on a tight travel leash as my wife is imminently due with our second child)

Photo: _saturnine

A New Player in the Machine Translation Space

Coming in on the GO Train the other morning I was flipping through the latest issue of Wired page by page, trying to find anything I missed – Well, it turns out that all this month I’ve been missing an article about “Meaningful Machines” a new-ish startup that just emerged from stealth mode.

Meaningful Machines has been building a statistical-based machine translation system and are essentially a competitor to our technology partner, Language Weaver (who I’m glad to see got at least some mention in the article).

The article is worth a read if you’re not familiar with how Statistical Based Machine Translation (SMTS) works as the author does a pretty good job of explaining it.

Their software certainly sounds interesting but they’re pretty candid that they still have the same challenge as Google in that it takes an enormous amount of processing power to translate anything. From what I’ve heard Google’s top scoring BLEU scores are the result of thousands of servers grinding away – In this realm more servers/processors = better results. Even with many servers Meaningful’s system averages about 10 seconds per word!

The most interesting aspect of this software is the fact it doesn’t require parallel corpora (aligned bodies of content in two languages) – they use a massive bilingual dictionary and then compare the translation in 5-8 word chunks to a massive database of content in the target language:

Given a passage to translate from Spanish, the system looks at each sentence in consecutive five- to eight-word chunks. Using the dictionary, the software employs a process called flooding to generate and store all possible English translations for the words in that chunk.

Making this work effectively requires a dictionary that includes all of the possible conjugations and variations for every word.

The options spit out by the dictionary for each chunk of text can number in the thousands, many of which are gibberish. To determine the most coherent candidates, the system scans the 150 Gbytes of English text, ranking candidates by how many times they appear. The more often they’ve actually been used by an English speaker, the more likely they are to be a correct translation.

Next, the software slides its window one word to the right, repeating the flooding process with another five- to eight-word chunk. … Using what Meaningful Machines calls the decoder, it then rescores the candidate translations according to the amount of overlap between each chunk’s translation options and the ones before and after it.

One of the more interesting claims they make in the article is that their system’s output takes half as long for a translator to cleanup/polish then if they started from scratch. The author mentions though that he didn’t actually see the results from their test in conjunction with a translation agency. I can certainly believe in certain circumstances they can achieve this but it likely would be out of reach of the average organization in the short term.

It doesn’t appear they’ve actually released the software yet but simply come out of stealth mode. They’ll certainly be an organization to watch for down the road but, as the article mentions, they’re going to be playing catchup once they launch. Language Weaver has a huge headstart and they’ve also managed to get their system to the point where it can run effectively on a single server (but they’ll be the first to admit more is always better).

It’s certainly going to be a fun space to watch over the next few years.