Microsoft Releases Machine Translation API

If you've ever wanted to programmatically translate text from one language to another directly from code, there's a new Web Service from Microsoft Research you might want to try. It's the recently announced new Microsoft Translator AJAX API and web widget. The API provides automated translation of web pages and portions of web pages into 12 different languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Polish, and Russian. The Microsoft Research team plans to add more languages over time.

The translator API can be accessed via a web widget, or using AJAX, HTTP, and SOAP protocols. The web widget provides easy-to-implement capability to provide visitors with the option to translate an entire web page into any of the supported languages.

If you can paste a small snippet of code into your page, you will be able to display the widget to your audience. No need to know programming intricacies, or how to call a JavaScript API. No need to write or install server side plug-ins for your specific software.

For greater flexibility, the Translator API can be accessed using JavaScript, via HTTP POST, and SOAP. The API includes methods for detecting the native language of a web page and translating the page or a portion of a page. See our new Microsoft Translator AJAX API profile for more details.


To get started with the API, visit the API home page and register for an invite code. API Documentation includes a "Getting Started" page and a well-documented interactive SDK. The documentation includes many examples that demonstrate how to implement the API within web pages using all the available protocols. The Microsoft Translator Forums are available for posting questions and discussing issues related to the API.

This is not the first translation web service API: Google also offers one as well, the AJAX Language API (our API profile). It's a JavaScript-based API that can translate a similarly wide range of languages. For examples of what developers have done with this API we 6 mashups listed including ones that do bilingual web search, interactive phrase translation and real-time translated chat (using ChaMap, shown below).


Machine translation cannot yet match the quality of professional translation by humans. However, Microsoft Research has been working on machine translation and natural language processing for a long time, and we can see the quality of machine translations improving. With the range of potential applications, it will be interesting to see how developers begin using this API.

Be sure to read the next API article: 10 New APIs: From Handmade Goods to Music to Government Data