Co-laboring together: collaboration on translation notes with Paratext 7.1

by bzephyr

I last posted here about our translation team testing a BGAN satellite terminal to share our translation notes back and forth between our remote village and the outside world.

UPDATE: I asked you to pray that…

  • I can delete the old projects successfully
    • It took me until the wee hours of the morning, but I was able to delete the 63 old projects that were in my name.
  • we figure out how to keep this from happening again
    • Thankfully, the network administrator was also able to help us delete over 1000 old projects from his end. This is a good thing! That means we shouldn’t have these old projects reappearing if one of the 20+ members of our team forgets to delete them and accidentally puts them on the server again.
  • John will be able to use the BGAN to receive the new notes
    • Yes! It is working, and John and I have sent our translation data back and forth a few times already. This is the first time in the history of our project that we have been able to send this amount of data back and forth this easily and within the same day that we are working on the translation in different parts of the world.

In the Aitape West Translation Project we are using the newest version of translation software (Paratext 7.1) developed by the United Bible Societies. We have been helping them test the alpha and beta versions of this software in our multi-language context for the last two years. Last week I was using it to write translation notes on 1 Timothy which I sent to the Arop team in the village as they are preparing their translation to become the immediate source text for the other ten languages to translate later in the year. This week I’m using Paratext to write translation notes on Luke which I’m sending to the three Onnele teams as they make final edits and clean up their translations for publication in the next few months. Here’s how it works…

  1. I make a note in Paratext so that a red flag appears next to the word or phrase I’m commenting on (see screen shot above). The next time the Arop or Onnele teams open Paratext, they’ll see my flag and read my note. They will make any needed changes to their translation and respond to my note. These notes can be resolved, but they never go away. They will be preserved as a history of the changes we have made in the process of translating. Keeping this history allows us to do some really cool things that I’ll post about sometime soon.
  2. After I create translation notes, I need to get them to my partners in the village. So in Paratext, I do a “send/receive.” What this does is send any changes (including my note) to the UBS server in North Carolina. The next time anyone on our team also does a send/receive to that server, their latest changes will get stored there, but they will also receive my notes.
  3. For our teammates in Arop village to get these notes, they need to somehow connect to the internet. In 2009 we tested a system for sharing these changes in Paratext through email over our very slow high frequency radio connection. It sort of worked, but when computers on opposite sides of the slow radio connection get out of sync and require a 2 or 3 MB fix, it’s impossible to resolve. Our radio email is usually limited to about 50 or 100 KB. That is why we are waiting for our university and mission partners in the country to be ready to partner with our computer support department and install a VSAT connection in the village. In the meantime, we have begun this week to use the portable BGAN satellite terminal. And it’s working!

Okay, now I need to get back to work. Luke 18 is waiting, and so are my teammates 3 hours away.


2 Comments to “Co-laboring together: collaboration on translation notes with Paratext 7.1”

  1. Ben,

    Thanks for taking the time to explain this process on your blog. It really helps to understand what is happening.


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