Mozilla Releases Offline Machine Translation Tools
Mozilla, the firm behind the popular web browser Firefox, has added translation tools to Firefox that does not rely on cloud processing to do its work.
The company has also rolled out other features that are aimed to make users’ experiences better.
“In January of 2019, Mozilla joined the University of Edinburgh, Charles University, University of Sheffield, and University of Tartu as part of a project funded by the European Union called Project Bergamot,” the company said in a blogpost.
“The ultimate goal of this consortium was to build a set of neural machine translation tools that would enable Mozilla to develop a website translation add-on that operates locally, i.e. the engines, language models and in-page translation algorithms would need to reside and be executed entirely in the user’s computer, so none of the data would be sent to the cloud, making it entirely private,” it added.
In addition to that, two novel features needed to be introduced.
The first is a translation of forms, to allow users to input text in their own language that is dynamically translated on-the-fly to the page’s language.
The second feature is a quality estimation of the translations where low confidence translations should be automatically highlighted on the page, to notify the user of potential errors.
“This set of requirements posed several technological challenges to the team: the translation engine was entirely written in programming languages that compile to native code,” the company said.
“We needed a way to streamline the distribution of the project to avoid the overhead involved in providing builds compatible with all platforms supported by Firefox a” that would be impracticable to scale and maintain,” it added.
Mozilla said that its solution to that was to develop a high-level API around the machine translation engine, port it to WebAssembly, and optimize the operations for matrix multiplication to run efficiently on CPUs.
“That enabled us to not only develop the translations add-on but also allowed every web page to integrate local machine translation, like in this website, which lets the user perform free-form translations without using the cloud,” the company said.
The translations add-on is now available in the Firefox Add-On store for installation on Firefox Nightly, Beta, and in General Release.