Founded in 2006, Eventbrite is a ticketing platform that makes it easy for people to discover interesting events, and provides organizers with robust tools to simply create, promote and sell tickets to events. Their mission: bring the world together through live experiences, and build technology that facilitates these gatherings

  • Eventbrite wanted a centralized location to manage, translate, and review externalized strings as they work with a translation vendor.
  • With weekly releases for the web app, Eventbrite’s developers needed an API that integrates with their own tools and workflow.
  • Using Transifex, Eventbrite gains visibility into the tasks that need to be completed.
We sat down with Patrick McLoughlin, Senior Localization Program Manager at Eventbrite, and chatted with him about the story of Eventbrite’s international expansion and their experience using Transifex.

Localization: Baby Steps

As a horizontal platform solution for a universal audience, Eventbrite experienced strong global adoption even before they had a dedicated international team. While the product was meeting many needs of organizers around the world – tickets were being sold in 150 countries at the time – Eventbrite wanted to provide a more authentic, localized product for select markets. To streamline the work, Eventbrite started with “localization lite” and expanded into other English-speaking countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Then in early 2012, Eventbrite decided to create its first non-English site.

“The company was founded with the intention of being a global company,” says Patrick. “We are lucky to have our French co-founding CTO, Renaud Visage, who is very knowledgeable in internationalization, which was beneficial in building the foundation for Eventbrite.”

When it came time to pick a localization system, Eventbrite had quite an extensive requirements document. “We needed a place where we could externalize our strings from the code and have a robust and efficient string and translation management system. It was important to be able to manage, translate, and review strings through a single UI,” Patrick explains.

“We don’t want to be sending files to translators and worry about where the strings are. We want to be able to get everything out of the code, make sure the HTML tags are rendered properly, and then work with translation agencies.”

“And the system needed to be developer-friendly. The APIs and the integration at the code level have to be manageable for the developers and something that can easily fit into their daily tasks. That definitely is the case with Transifex.”

Laying the Groundwork

Eventbrite has four main types of content that require translation: the web UI, mobile apps (iOS and Android), Help Center, and marketing landing pages.

“One time a new engineer asked me how to check in strings and I told him to speak to another engineer to get the exact guidelines. Half an hour later I asked him how it was going with Transifex, and he said he was already up to speed.”

Patrick focuses most of his time on the web UI. “We’re totally agile and have one-week releases. Our engineers check in strings pretty much any day. They love working with Transifex; it’s very user-friendly for them.” He recalls, “One time a new engineer asked me how to check in strings and I told him to speak to another engineer to get the exact guidelines. Half an hour later I asked him how it was going with Transifex, and he said he was already up to speed.”

When it comes to the translations, Eventbrite works with a large language service provider (LSP). “Our translators pick up twice a week so all the strings are ready for the weekly release,” says Patrick. “Before each pickup, I go in the Transifex editor and check that the strings look okay and that there aren’t any string concatenations or typos. If I see anything odd, I go back to the engineers.”

“Everything for the web UI is pretty much automated. The strings go in, I look at the strings, and our translators know they have to pick up every Thursday and Sunday. It’s a continuous process that I could completely leave on autopilot if I wanted.”

Everything else is less automated because it doesn’t need to be. “Mobile may release every six weeks or two months, whereas for the web UI, you’re going through 50 releases a year.” So when Eventbrite needs translations for the mobile app, help content, or marketing pages, Patrick just sends the URL of the resource file on Transifex to the translators.

“The translators like it because they just click on the URL and start working. It’s really neat and we use it a lot actually.”

Translations Begin

Eventbrite’s translators log in to Transifex and translate directly in Transifex’s web editor. “They are very impressed, as I am, with the web editor,” says Patrick.

“In the editor, you can click on “untranslated” or “unreviewed,” or search for strings by filters and go straight to those strings. Say I have 14 untranslated strings, I can ignore the other 80,000 words in there. The focus is on those strings. It’s clear what you have to work on.”

“The details section where you can include notes and instructions about the context of a string, the tab with Translation Memory suggestions, and the history tab contain the kind of information a translator needs. Where is this string coming from? Do I have it in the TM? Have I translated this before? That information is there straight away.”

And for Patrick, the details matter as much as the quick visibility. “Often with HTML markings, there are lots of parentheses. If a translator is copying and pasting from another string, or does something funky, it’s easy to forget to close the parentheses or make some other mistake,” he says. “Transifex will prompt you and say, ‘There are three parentheses in the original English, but only two in French, are you sure this is right?’”

“Because HTML tags and variables are such a delicate area, this feature is important even though 99% of translators are not going to mess it up. I don’t need to worry about it when I send strings to translators.”

Managing Workflow

In the editor, Patrick can drill down to specific strings, and zooming out to the dashboard and project pages gives him an overview of the progress of the translations and helps him manage translators

“I’ve worked with translation management tools in the past where you don’t have this level of quick, within-seconds type of visibility of what I need to do.”

“In the dashboard, there is a neat graphic showing translation activity. I can look back and see for example that in February we did a lot of translations, whereas in March we didn’t do as much. It gives me a high-level snapshot of where are we,” says Patrick. “And by going to the project level, I have an idea of who is working on what, when it was last looked at, what work is left to do, what do I need to do, without having to dig around.”

“I’ve worked with translation management tools in the past where you don’t have this level of quick, within-seconds type of visibility of what I need to do,” he adds. “Now if I see that there’s 1% left for Dutch, I know I need to focus on Dutch and inform the Dutch translator.”

Although Eventbrite relies on an LSP for translations, Transifex is vendor and translator agnostic. Companies can use different types of translators and build their own teams. Patrick explains, “I have our current translators translating in Transifex, but theoretically I could have my friend in Germany do it. It’s great to have that kind of flexibility.”

Global Ambitions

Today, Eventbrite is available in 7 languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, and English. And it’s not a race to see how fast they can expand into more countries – they take a tempered and careful approach with global expansion. “To us, expanding internationally is much more than translating the pages. We have a complex business and care very much about providing an authentic and delightful experience,” says Patrick.

“For most of the main languages we’re in, we have native speakers who will answer customer support emails and calls. We don’t go into new markets until we have some kind of customer support in place. Our help content is translated through Transifex, but we also believe having a person is important.”

“We’re now processing tickets in 179 countries, and have big aspirations for our global business,” he continues. “I feel confident in Transifex’s ability to meet our needs globally, and look forward to a continued partnership with them.”

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