Communication among colleagues around the globe who don't speak the same language could become easier, with an open-source tool that translates Yahoo IMs (instant messages) on the fly.
The Yahoo Translating Proxy intercepts users' Yahoo IMs, translates them using Google Translate and sends them on to the recipient. Translation can be done to and from English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, as well as between some non-European languages.
Google Translate lets users enter text and hit a button to have the words automatically translated. Like AltaVista's Babel Fish, it also translates web pages.
To use the Yahoo Translating Proxy, users must download software and then type a specific command into the IM window to start up the translator. Users can try it out before downloading any software by pointing their Yahoo client to a proxy running on a server hosted by the creators of the software. The Yahoo Translating Proxy is an open-source project that is free to use; the software can be downloaded here.
The tool's developers, based in Toronto, are working on upgrades with broader language support, including some Asian languages and Russian. They also want to enable automatic translation without requiring the user to first type in a command. The creators also hope to add other features such as an automatic spell-checker and a service that spells out abbreviations.