The Babel Fish is one of Douglas Adams’s famed creations, an enormous green scaly amphibian that, when held to the ear, enables you to instantly understand any language. It’s a concept that search engine AltaVista soon cottoned onto, with their online translation service at babelfish.altavista.com. It’s pretty good, too: Just tap in a site address or block of text, select a language, and off you go!
It’s no longer limited to just the Web, however. Some bright spark at XMethods (www.xmethods.com) created a Web service interface to the site, meaning you can plug the translation feature straight into your Windows programs, mobile Web applications, or anywhere else. And the service is exceptionally easy to use, too.
To get started, fire up Visual Studio .NET and create a new project, such as a Windows application. Select Project ~TRA Add Web Reference, and type in the URL of the Babel Fish WSDL (Web Service Definition Language) file—http://www.xmethods.net/sd/2001/BabelFishService.wsdl—then press Return. Click on Add Reference when the button becomes available.
Now, this service has only one simple function, BabelFish. It accepts two parameters: a translationmode and sourcedata. The sourcedata is quite simply the text you wish to translate, and the translationmode can be any of the following values, depending on the languages you wish to translate between:
|Translation Languages||“translationmode” value|
|English to French||en_fr|
|English to German||en_de|
|English to Italian||en_it|
|English to Portugese||en_pt|
|English to Spanish||en_es|
|French to English||fr_en|
|German to English||de_en|
|Italian to English||it_en|
|Portugese to English||pt_en|
|Russian to English||ru_en|
|Spanish to English||es_en|
Want to get started? Simply create a new instance of the BabelFishService stub class created for you and call the BabelFish function with these parameters, like this:
Dim objTranslate As New net.xmethods.www.BabelFishService() Dim strText = objTranslate.BabelFish("fr_en", "comment traduire") MessageBox.Show(strText)
And that’s quite simply it. A small service, yes, but extremely powerful. To learn more about this service, including supported languages and character limitations, check out the link at the bottom of the XMethods site. Excellent!
About the Author
Karl Moore (MCSD, MVP) is an experience author living in Yorkshire, England. He is author of numerous technology books, including the new Ultimate VB .NET and ASP.NET Code Book (ISBN 1-59059-106-2, $49.99), plus regularly features at industry conferences and on BBC radio. Moore also runs his own creative consultancy, White Cliff Computing Ltd. Visit his official Web site at www.karlmoore.com.