Thursday, May 15, 2014

Introducing Interpreters’ Help, terminology software

Hello, my name is Benoit Werner. I’m happy to start this blog.
I would like to introduce the solution for interpreters that I created with my friend Yann Plancqueel and my sister CĂ©line Corsini.
Yann and I are both programmers and my sister is a conference interpreter.
A few years back, she asked if I could develop a piece of software that would allow quick terminology search while in the booth. She also had 2 constraints: the software needed to work on Mac and it had to work offline because she didn’t always have access to the Internet in the booth.
I started thinking about how I could build the software but I never had time to actually do it. Last year, in-between projects, I had some free time that allowed me to work on this task.
I checked existing solutions on the market and I noticed that most of them were Windows based. Which makes sense as most interpreters are using Windows. But at the same time, many are shifting to Apple’s Mac or iPad.
And what surprised me is that the existing Windows solutions claim to work on Mac. Taking a closer look, I figured it requires buying a virtual machine and running Windows on your Mac. Unfortunately, this is not user friendly and people who are using the software like that constantly complain about various problems.
Another issue I thought about was where to store the database of glossaries, because if it is on the interpreter’s computer, in the event of the disk crashing, everything is lost. And many interpreters build up their glossaries since college and have hundreds of them.
Some existing solutions on the market address this issue by recommending storing the database on Dropbox. Again, this is not a bulletproof solution, because a file on Dropbox can easily be deleted or an account can be closed without remembering that the file was there.
And this is not user friendly either.
So, with my friend Yann, we tried to find a solution to fix all these issues, a solution that would also take advantage of all mobile capabilities of today that were not available a few years back. And that’s how Interpreters’ Help was born.
We decided to build a web-based tool to create/update/store/search interpreters’ glossaries. The glossaries are stored and automatically backed up on the cloud.
To access glossaries from the booth without Internet, which according to interpreters we have talked to is not so much of an issue anymore, we created a native Mac application that synchronizes automatically the glossaries on the desktop. As of today, we don’t have a Windows application, but if there is demand, we will rapidly release one.
We also plan to make a native iPad and Android version if there is demand for it.
Being a web-based application gives us the possibility to go a step further and allows collaboration on glossaries and also sharing.
We would greatly appreciate if you could give it a try and help us improve the idea. We are not charging anything for now and we don’t ask for credit card information upon registration.
We are actually still trying to figure out a fair business model that could allow us to continue working on the software without worrying about the money. If you have ideas for us, please don't hesitate to share.