Proxy Team – the people who opened WPML for external translation services

August 13, 2015

Proxy Team

Proxy Team. It might sound odd to some, to others, mysterious and intriguing. However, you will be surprised to find out that behind this futuristic name there are actually some cheerful people: Sarah, Paweł, and Dominik. Moreover, another person is getting ready to join them.

Stay with us to meet the Proxy Team—WordPress developers who have opened WPML for external translation services—and see what it means for you.

Before the Proxy Team was born

To understand the origins of the team and its name, let’s go back in time for a while. It is 2014 and WPML 3.2 has not been released yet.

If you use WPML for your multilingual site, you have three options to translate your contents:

  1. Do this manually – copy from the documents your customer has provided and paste translations directly into your WordPress. This is a simple process but a very time-consuming one.
  2. Send your content to your own translators via XLIFF files. WPML Translation Management module helps you here.
  3. Send your content to a professional translation. Completed translations appear automatically in your site. No manual work is needed.

Remember, it’s still 2014 so the only choice you have for option 3 is to use ICanLocalize service. ICanLocalize is part of the OTGS company and provides you with expert human translations.

WPML users love using ICanLocalize because it allows them to eliminate the manual work associated with translation (which means time). ICanLocalize service is fully integrated with WPML so all the communication takes place on your WordPress dashboard.

WPML users were asking about using different translation services with WPML
WPML users were asking about using different translation services with WPML

However, at the same time we were receiving feedback from other WPML customers that they would like to have more choices under ‘professional translation’, not just ICanLocalize.

Paweł, one of the first WPML developers who joined the project, explains:

“It was especially important for people who used other translation companies (from outside the WordPress world) and were completely satisfied with their service. Switching to another translating service (ICanLocalize in this case) would have been kinda problematic for them.”

To respond to this demand, a new solution was needed that would open WPML for other translation companies.

Why Proxy?

The straightforward solution to integrate WPML with third party translation services was to do it via dedicated plugins. A separate plugin for each company offering translation services could do the trick.

However, this approach had a few drawbacks. For example, WPML developers would need to update and test all these plugins whenever the WPML core plugins received an update, and vice versa; when the API used by the external service changed, you needed to incorporate the change to WPML and test it as well.

The Proxy service comes as a solution

To avoid these complexities, it was decided to introduce an additional, intermediate service, which was called Translation Proxy.

Translation Proxy is an intermediate software between WPML and the software of other companies offering translation services.

“This solution allowed us to completely separate WPML code from the code responsible for communication with different translation providers (Translation Services).” clarifies Paweł.

“So WPML knows how to communicate with the Translation Proxy, and the Translation Proxy knows how to communicate with translation services. If a Translation Service company happened to change their API, we needed to only update the Translation Proxy.”

You don’t see any Proxy as an end-user

It’s the summer of 2015, WPML 3.2 has been released and the new Translation Services are already available for WPML users who have the “WPML Translation management” plugin installed.

However, you don’t see any Translation Proxy when using WPML. The internal communication between WPML and the external translation services (handled by the Translation Proxy) is completely hidden from you as the WPML end-user.

Instead, in your WPML Translation Management panel, you see a list of available translation services:

WPML Translation Management panel: new Translation Services are already available for WPML users
WPML Translation Management panel: new Translation Services are already available for WPML users

Meet the people who made it happen

So currently, your WPML Translation Management dashboard displays two services only:

  • Cloudwords
  • and the good old ICanLocalize.

More services will appear soon.

However, before a new translation service pops up in your WPML dashboard, there is a lot of work to be done in advance:

Before a new external translation service is integrated with WPML, business discussions take place.
Before a new external translation service is integrated with WPML, business discussions take place.
  1. First, somebody needs to get in contact with the external translation company.
  2. Then (still before this new service is incorporated into WPML) a few discussions have to take place between these two companies to establish communication details on the technical level.

Mostly project managers and developers are involved.

Colloquially speaking, you need a team to keep this entire “Proxy thing” alive and let it grow.

This is where the Proxy Team comes into play. Meet Paweł Wawrzyniak, Sarah Neuber, and Dominik Mandalinić.

Paweł Wawrzyniak, the Proxy Team leader
Paweł Wawrzyniak, the Proxy Team leader

Paweł, the Proxy Team leader describes his teammates’, (Sarah and Dominik) tasks:

“Dominik and Sarah are focused mostly on the integration with selected Translation Services (like Cloudwords, ICanLocalize, and TranslateMedia). The whole integration process is divided into a few steps including learning the Translation Service’s APIs, finding common ground in our workflows, identifying what’s missing, implementing the solution, and testing everything.”

Dominik Mandalinić, Developer
Dominik Mandalinić, Developer

 Dominik adds:

“Amir (the company’s CEO) makes initial contact with companies that offer translation services and handles the business part of the integration. After that, the Proxy Team has a few more meetings with representatives from the translation company.

After a few technical discussions, we get a clearer picture on how to integrate the partner-to-be workflow into our Translation Proxy. Then, the development on our side gets started. Sarah and I currently do the same thing in terms of the role played in the team, which can be summarized as “integration of translation services with WPML.”

Sarah confirms. Asked about how her role in the team differs from her workmates, she smiles:

“I am the only girl – LOL! Do I need to say more?”

Sarah Neuber, Developer

Sarah has been working for OTGS for a few years now. She gave up her WordPress freelancing job to join WPML team as a WPML 1st tier supporter at first. Soon she was promoted to the 2nd tier, then to the 3rd tier, and finally to become the manager of the entire WPML Support Team.

“This last year I had the opportunity to move on to a more “quiet corner” in the company with WPML development—the WPML Hooks API, and 4 months ago, I joined the Translation Proxy team.”

“Having people around you that you can brain storm with, learn, and discover new possibilities together helped me “grow” the developer in me in ways I probably would not have had I still been on my own, working as a WordPress freelancer.”

Indeed, the developer in Sarah has grown super-fast. Dominik confirms:

“I have not had the chance to see Sarah in action since each of us handles a different partner, but I have noticed that she is very detail oriented and a perfectionist, and I gotta hand it to her—she picked up Ruby and Rails pretty darn fast.”

Ruby is the programming language used in Translation Proxy. For Sarah, Object Oriented Design “done the Ruby way” is so enjoyable and is the part of her work that she likes most.

“Oh, maybe equally with working with external APIs” she adds. “And the challenges this brings and finding solutions for them.”

Challenges do come often.

Programming work is fascinating but soft skills are also essential. Discussions with a new translation company don’t finish shortly after the initial agreements have been made.

Communication between the Proxy Team and translation providers is essential for all the stages of the project
Communication between the Proxy Team and translation providers is essential for all the stages of the project

Dominik explains:

“Communication needs to be maintained with the client and often the integration means compromises; sometimes on our side and sometimes on the partner’s side. This requires calm communication and mutual trust—which I must say Paweł instills and handles perfectly when representing our team and company.”


Paweł apparently enjoys his role as well, he says:

“In general I like the feeling that I’m responsible for the product and decisions, and for the direction we should go. Planning how to organize things and what we have to change first and how is very challenging but also rewarding when everything starts to work as expected.

Besides working on the integration with translation services, you learn a lot about APIs (architecture, REST, SOAP, etc.). The whole Translation Proxy Project is also a great opportunity to improve Ruby skills, learn about Rails, and of course practice with unit tests.”

But who’s gonna help you?

Since the entire Proxy interface is hidden from you, as a WPML user, obviously the chances that you will ever get in touch with the Proxy Team personally are low.

However, there is one more guy joining the Proxy Team, and if you plan to use professional translation services provided by WPML, he will be the guy to resolve your doubts.

Meet Ahmed Ibrahim from Egypt joining the Proxy Team.

Meet Ahmed, WPML Supporter
Meet Ahmed, WPML Supporter

Ahmed works in WPML Support and will handle tickets around various issues with the Translation Services.

He is very excited to take up this new role.

“I think this kind of responsibility will extend my knowledge and experience; I have always had a passion for solutions that depend on different applications hosted on different servers and that talk to each other through APIs.”

Now, if you are familiar with the Proxy terminology you can just think about Ahmed as the “Proxy” between you and the Proxy Team ;-)

Stay tuned – it’s going to be hot!

Phew! That was long! Now let us leave the Proxy Team alone to carry on with their job and keep up their excitement. There is a lot of work ahead of them.

Soon you will see more translation services in WPML. We are also running a survey that will help us to choose which translation services to add (please join to share your opinion!).

A lot is going to happen in the “Proxy area” and it is going to be hot! Follow our blog to stay tuned.

Talking about heat—the whole team likes hot climates. The personal pictures they shared prove that:

Dominik in Kostanje, a small historical village in southern Croatia
Dominik in Kostanje, a small historical village in southern Croatia
Sarah loves travelling. In the picture she’s in South Tyrol
Sarah loves travelling. In the picture she’s in South Tyrol
Ahmed at Porto Sokhna Beach, Egypt
Ahmed at Porto Sokhna Beach, Egypt
Paweł when visiting Samariá Gorge (Crete, Greece)
Paweł when visiting Samariá Gorge (Crete, Greece)

Join us!

Both talented developers and companies offering professional translation services are welcome to join us.

If you represent a company specializing in translation services and would like your company’s services to be available for WordPress users via WPML, please use WPML’s business contact form.

If you are a developer interested in joining WPML’s Proxy Team, visit the job application page.

Come Work With Us

Are you interested in working with a globally distributed team that encourages growth and advancement? Are you ready to harness the power of technology for a better future?