Case Study: Prezi, Helping More People Share Their Ideas

Prezi, dubbed by TechCrunch as the “PowerPoint killer,” is a fast-growing company with over 20 million users. Prezi surpasses the traditional slide-by-slide approach of most presentations, allowing you to organize your ideas as in a mind map and create non-linear, cinematic presentations with a zoomable canvas containing words, images, videos, and even sound.

Founded in Budapest, Hungary in 2009, Prezi has become a global company thanks to a great product, and also a company-wide emphasis on localization. We recently sat down with Kalman Kemenczy, Prezi’s Product Manager of Internationalization, to talk about their approach.

How did you first hear about Transifex?

I spent nine years in the open source community. I was involved with projects such as Mozilla and openSUSE — both of which use Transifex today — and became familiar with Transifex as I looked into open source translation tools.

Tell us a bit about why you or your team chose Transifex for Prezi?

We decided to localize Prezi about a year ago. We tried a tool which had to be installed on our servers. But with a complex infrastructure, we knew we needed a hosted solution and did not want to invest the people and machines to build or manage something ourselves.

And Transifex’s support for a wide range of localization file formats was really important to us. While we work mostly with the .po file format for our web app, we also have mobile apps for iOS (.strings), subtitles in YouTube videos (.sbv), and even infographics (.txt). Transifex allows us to localize all of these and also be ready for future content that uses other file formats.

What kinds of technology are you using?

Our website is Django based, our product is written in Flash, and we use Adobe Air for Prezi desktop. And, of course, we have our mobile apps too.


And what happens when something needs to be translated?

At Prezi, we believe every product we create should be localization ready. We have a lightweight framework which allows developers to only commit code that has localization support. This framework also extracts and collects strings from our source code into a localization file, a .po file for example, so we don’t have to hand our source code over to our translators.

We would then upload the files to Transifex, and when the translations are complete, we download them and put them back with our source code. Our development team creates new strings constantly, so we repeat this process every day. We realized that this should be part of continuous integration because we would like to release daily, at anytime, and translations should not block this initiative and hold us back.

What’s a feature in Transifex that helps you or your team with your work?

We use the command line client to push / pull files as a batch to and from Transifex. It’s up and running really quickly and saves our team a lot of time. It is much easier than manually uploading or downloading 50 files one by one or emailing them to translators as attachments. That would be an absolute nightmare.

How many languages does Prezi support today?

Currently we offer Prezi in 4 languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. German, French, and Hungarian are currently crowdsourced, but they have not been released yet. Our plans for the future are a little fluid; we may add a few more languages later in the year. That’s another reason we picked Transifex — it give us the flexibility to add more languages whenever we want.


Do you use the same translation process for all of them?

No, actually. We have professional translators for Spanish and Japanese. Translations for Korean are crowdsourced and done with the Transifex online editor. Then they are reviewed internally by a staffer who speaks Korean.

The framework we have also notifies us if the same string is translated differently in different places. For instance, we would know if “Save” is translated one way in our iPad app and another way on our website. This ensures a consistent experience across our products.

Got a presentation coming up? Check out Prezi. And to learn how you can build a continuous localization workflow, read our white paper: Localization for Agile Teams.

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