Translating ACE into languages other than English

ACE has the capability of storing translations of its content in a variety of languages, and displaying that content to its users in whatever language they prefer.

Choosing a language

All users who want to use ACE must register with the system once. When an instructor registers with ACE, she is given a list of institutions from which to choose. If her institution is not listed, she may choose "Other" and enter its name. She then has the opportunity to choose her institution's primary language of instruction from ACE's menu of languages or to type the name of a new language. ACE will then assign that language automatically to all students who register from that institution. (Of course, much more work is required before ACE can translate the content into that language.)

At any time, students or instructors may choose a language that they prefer over English by pressing My Profile. A user may also choose more than one language and indicate an order of preference, and a user may also choose to delete a language. However, if ACE assigns a language to a student because that language is the primary language of instruction at the student's institution, then the student may not delete that language from her list of languages.

Displaying content in a language other than English

Throughout the program (except in the Question Bank), whenever ACE displays text to the user, it searches its database for translations of that text into the user's preferred languages. If it finds translations in more than one of the user's preferred languages, it chooses the translation in the most-preferred language. If it fails to find a translation in any of the user's preferred languages, it displays the text in English.

Entering translations

The ACE administrator may confer translator privileges on selected instructors. These instructors then have the authority to enter or modify translations in their chosen languages.

Translators should feel free to use any characters that their language requires. Translators may also use character entity references, such as δ and → for the δ and → characters. The textbox will display δ or →, but users will see δ or →. (However, if a translator enters a character entity reference in numerical format, such as →, then when ACE redisplays the translation in a textbox, it will display not the character entity reference →, but the character → to which it refers.)

ACE automatically formats chemical formulas and common chemical expressions. For example, if an author enters CH3CO2^- or sp3-hybridized, ACE automatically formats them to CH3CO2 and sp3-hybridized. (Please see ACE's toDisplay() tester for more information on how ACE formats text.) However, translators may choose to use HTML formatting tags such as <b></b> or <sup></sup> to format text as well.

ACE divides into two groups the phrases that it translates: question sets (question statements, evaluator feedback, etc.), and general phrases (instructions, button labels, alerts, automatically generated feedback, etc.).

Entering translations of general phrases

An authorized translator who presses the Question Bank button to enter the question bank will see a Translate General button. The translator presses this button to enter translations of ca. 1300 phrases hardwired into ACE. Many of these phrases are similar, and many are very short (one word or even an abbreviation), so the translator can expect to be able to translate about 100 phrases per hour.

Many general phrases have a variable part; for example, "(you earned x)". Rather than storing a separate translation for every possible number in this phrase, ACE stores a single example phrase that contains a placeholder demarcated by ***, e.g., "(you earned ***0.5***)". ACE will replace the demarcated part with the appropriate value when it displays the phrase to the user. It is important that, when so instructed, the translator leave the placeholder inside the *** symbols unchanged in the translated phrase, so that ACE knows where it should insert the variable content.

Translators should take special care to end their translation with a period when a phrase ends with a period, and not to do so when it does not.

Even after a translator enters translations for all of the general phrases, students may still occasionally encounter untranslated phrases. The reason is that ACE only adds a phrase to the database of translatable phrases when it first displays it to a user. At that time, it will add the phrase to its database of translatable phrases, but of course a translator won't yet have entered a translation for that phrase. For this reason, a translator should occasionally check the general phrases list to see if ACE has added to it any new phrases that need translating.

Entering translations of question sets

If, after pressing the Question Bank button, the translator chooses a topic and then a question set, the Translate General button will change to Translate Set. The translator presses this button to enter translations of the questions in the chosen question set.

A question set has up to four kinds of content that need to be translated: the common question statement, each question's statement, the feedback for each evaluator of each question, and any question data that the question may need to display (such as options in a multiple-choice question or molecule names in a ranking question). A particular question set may lack a common question statement, and a particular question may have a blank statement or no queston data.

When a translator first enters the question set translation tool, ACE displays only the common question statement (if there is one) of the question set and the statements of each individual question in the set. If the translator clicks Common question statement, a textbox will appear in which the translator should enter the translation. If the translator clicks on the Edit icon next to an individual question, ACE will display that question's statement, question data (if any), and evaluator feedbacks, along with textboxes for the translation of each. Clicking on the Edit icon again will return that question to its original contracted display state, but ACE will not lose any translations that the translator entered into the textboxes. With each evaluator, ACE also displays in green the condition under which a response triggers that particular feedback; the translator should not translate this text.

When a translator saves a translation of a particular phrases, ACE looks to see if that phrase is repeated anywhere else in the content, and, if it is, it assigns the translation to those other instances of the phrase as well. This feature saves the translator from having to repeatedly enter the same translation. As a result, a translator should save her work often.

If a translator wishes to alter a translation, the translator should simply alter it and save the altered version. If a translator wishes to delete a translation without replacing it with another one, the translator must enter ***ERASE*** in the textbox. ACE will ignore a blank textbox.

Authoring and translations

ACE divides its content into master-authored and locally authored content. The ACE administrators have granted master-author status to a handful of instructors. When these instructors write content, their work becomes visible to all users, and when they make changes to existing content, those changes propagate out to all users as well. Most instructors, however, are local authors. When a local author writes a new question, only that instructor (and her students) can see the new question. Moreover, if a local author modifies a master-authored question, ACE makes a copy of the master-authored question and assigns it to the local author, so that the local author is actually making changes to a locally authored question, and, again, only that instructor (and her students) can see the changes.

The question set translation tool displays only the master-authored questions in a question set. A translator using this page will not see any locally authored content, even if it is content that the translator has authored herself. If an instructor with only local-author privileges wants his students to see the content that he has authored in a language other than English, he must write his content in that language, and it will appear to students only in that language.

Having said that, suppose that an instructor modifies an existing master-authored question by adding a single new evaluator. If a translator has already translated the question statement or the feedback of the other evaluators in the question, then those translations will continue to appear to the instructor's students; and, if a translator later translates the question statement or the feedback in the original master-authored question, that translation will apply as well to phrases that have remained unchanged in the locally-authored question. On the other hand, if the instructor has modified a question statement or an evaluator's feedback, his students will always see exactly what he has written, whether it is in English or another language.

A master author may occasionally modify existing content. If she modifies a question statement, evaluator, or question datum of an existing question and then saves the question, ACE deletes all translations associated with the modified item, preserving translations of those question parts that remain unmodified. However, if she moves evaluators or question data within a list, ACE preserves the translations associated with them.

If a master author duplicates an existing question, ACE will copy all translations associated with the original question and associate them with the new question. However, editing the question statement, evaluators, or question data will cause ACE to delete the translations associated with those items.