Translation Management With Sitecore & Clay Tablet

These days, it's not at all unusual for a website to support multiple languages. If you're someone who works with multilingual sites, you will definitely want to check out an integration module for Sitecore that Clay Tablet Technologies recently released. Want to learn a little more about it? Read on!  And read on even if you aren't interested in translation management, because what CTT has done is a great example of the level of integration Sitecore's technology partners are able achieve.

In case you've never heard of Clay Tablet Technologies (CTT), they are a Sitecore technology partner that develops connectivity software for translation systems. Clay Tablet doesn't perform the translation. It brokers the communication between a content management system and a system or organization that provides translation services. In other words, it facilitates getting content to a translation provider and then back into a content management system.

The many benefits to this approach are beyond the scope of this article, but they can be summarized as increased efficiency and increased flexibility. Clay Tablet reports that their customers have reduced the amount of time spent managing translation (again, not the translation itself, but the process before and after) by 60%. This is accomplished by eliminating the need to develop custom integration with translation providers, and by eliminating the manual processes - like copy and paste - that are tedious, time-consuming, and inefficient parts of the translation management process.

Increased flexibility results from having a content management system communicate with Clay Tablet rather than a specific translation provider. Once the content gets to Clay Tablet, Clay Tablet's routing rules determine where the content should be directed and how the content should get there. Switching from one translation provider to another becomes a simple matter of configuration in the Clay Tablet dashboard.

The integration module is called the Clay Tablet Connector for Sitecore (CT3). It works by hooking into Sitecore's workflow engine. When an item is submitted for translation, new language versions of that item are created, and eventually populated with the content that has been translated.

Workflow is the key to the integration of Sitecore and Clay Tablet. CT3 provides a workflow action that submits an item for translation. A sample workflow is installed with the module. This workflow demonstrates how translation can be incorporated into a Sitecore workflow.


Workflow is one way to submit content for translation, but there are others. Bulk translation jobs can be initiated. A third option is to manually submit a single item.

Manually submitting a single item can be done from the Page Editor. This module is compatible with earlier versions of Sitecore CMS, but for this article I'm using 6.4. In the Page Editor, I have a new strip named "CT3 Translation". This strip has a "Translate To" button.


Clicking this button launches a dialog that allows me to specify translation instructions. The main option I have is which languages I want to translate to. I'm going to select all of the languages available.


Back in the Content Editor, CT3 provides a variety of ways to track the status of the translation. The "Translation Status" tab shows the status for a specific item.

Other views are available to give a more expansive view of translation progress. Filters allow a user to determine which items are in a specific step of the translation process.

After content is translated and received by Sitecore, content authors may review the translated content.  If additional changes are needed, CT3 presents the author with some options.  In the following screenshot, I right-clicked on one of the entries in the Translation Status tab.  A context menu appears that allows me to request a translation correction, among other things.


Behind the scenes there is a lot going on. But all of this logic is controlled through pipelines. The current version of CT3 supports a dozen pipelines that allow the various parts of the process of getting content to and from Clay Tablet to be modified and enhanced.

For example, maybe my company just changed the name of one of its products. I want to ensure the old product name hasn't slipped back in. I could add a processor to the "HandleTranslatedItemPipeline" pipeline that compares the translated content to a blacklist. If a restricted word is found, I could send an email. This is a simple example, but the point is that CT3 doesn't force your translation process to be done a certain way.

The CT3 module is a powerful tool. I hardly scratched the surface with this post. But if you like what you see, I encourage you to give Clay Tablet Technologies a call.

  • Awesome post Adam - thanks so much!   One point that stands amplification is that the CT3 Connector allows a Sitecore client to use any translation provider they might wish to use. Clay Tablet can seamlessly interconnect with all the leading translation systems from firms like Lionbridge and SDL, and even machine translation solutions like Google Translate and Microsoft's Translation API - but our clients often use the translation provider they've always used and are comfortable with. They just use the Clay Tablet Sitecore Connector to make that interaction much more efficient.   Despite this great post - there's still so much more. If you've read this and wonder if CT3 can help your firm localize content more efficiently - we'd be happy to dicuss your particular needs to see how we might help.  RK

  • Hi,  We struggle with the minor formatting and text alignment edits that are usually required after translation.  With segmentation by the TM the translators have no real context for the page layout. So in some cases the translation comes back fine but still needs to be touched in the CMS to make it layout better. We have tinkered with SDL SQL mounts over content database tables to show the translation in our CMS real-time, so the content can be reviewed also in the page context.   Does the SiteCore+Clay Tablet account for this?  In the workflow above, under the 'Editing Translated Version" step, are the changes/formatting persisted back in the TM (SDL)?  That would be very, very cool!  We're ok if it becomes necessary to tinker with formatting on occasions, but since we publish Global, Regional and Affiliate levels of content... it is a pain when Global content is (re)pushed out and our Affiliates need to (re)make layout tweaks.  This also opens the door for them to change the content and alter some areas under stricter governance...  Thanks

  • Hey Joe - you highligh what we think is indeed one of the very coolest, if not immediately apparent features in the Clay Tablet Connector for Sitecore. You CAN indeed send changes made in Sitecore during ICV (In-country validation) BACK to the LSP/TMS to update the TM's. We feel this is a "must have" feature - but it took some crafty engineering. Happy to show anyone who's interested how this actually works.  Thanks,  RK

  • Has anyone been able to use the workbox to approve content coming back thought Clay Tablet?  I have Sitecore 7.2 and the workbox does not allow me to approve.  I have to click through each item, individually, and approve.  Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Yes - Clay Tablet actually provides an extended Workbox that WILL allow you to review and process 1000's of items, sorted by handy parameters like "Language". Contact your Clay Tablet rep to ensure that's set up for you properly.

  • Hi,  this looks good!

    I have few queries if you could answer

    1) During workflow - how to decide which field needs to be translated or its default to al, As in ours, we have several content types and each content type have multiple fields - out of this only few fields needs to be translated

    2) What type of Dashboard/reporting option available.

    3) Will it always create a new version - If let's say some versions had been created in another language ( let's say Arabic) but not completed -  editorial team wanted only few fields will be updated - how that will be covered with the workflow based approach.

    As they entered altogether different content for Arabic language and only wanted few field needs to be translated.

    4) Will it maintain current versions of the content with version number.

    5) Will there be any option to add/customize email notifications.