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Second Life Viewer available now that supports both free Bing and the new Google translation service.

There Viewer 3 and Firestorm viewers support both the free Microsoft and Google translation services, so you no longer need to wear my translator:

Microsoft give 2,000,00 characters for free with Bing Translator

As you may already know, back in May 26, 2011 Google announced that they stopped the free Translate API v1 and they dropped all free translation on December 1, 2011. As a result, all viewers will require updates to continue with any translation. Only Viewer 3 has and Firestorm have this feature.

Google Translate was shut off completely on the same date (December 1, 2011); You will still be able to use Google translate, but it will cost you $20.00.

Client-side translators are a good thing to use. But most people will need to fall back on the old copy and pasting of chat onto a web browser window because of the costs and difficulties involved in setting up the new viewer.

You will be able to choose from any of the following:

1) Copy and paste chat into or

2) Bing will give you 2,000,000 characters - about 400K words - per month for free. You must register with Microsoft or use a or account to get free translations.

3) Purchase another scripted HUD translator, and since until now those all depended upon the free service, I expect most of them must switch to a Microsoft system, a rental plan or pay-as-you use plan.


Google costs $20 for up to 1,000,000 characters, or about 200,000 words. There is no free option with Google. They require billing information before you can start using the service.

Microsoft Bing offers a limited a free translation service. They have a has a 'basic' free account.

Enabling the new features

The translator that is built into the viewer only works in local chat, and is disabled by default. There is a new screen to enable the chat preferences. You first type Ctrl + P or go to the Preferences. Click the Chat tab, and at the bottom is a new Translation Settings button:

translator settings

After clicking Translation Settings, you get a new floating screen:


The challenge is that you need a Bing or Google account, and some geekiness to navigate through their setup. Vadim Productengine has put in handy links to both the Google and Bing API sign-up screens.

Account Signup

Microsoft Bing requires you to have a free Bing account, or a hotmail email address. Starting today developers can directly sign up for the Microsoft Translator service on the Windows Azure Marketplace. The basic subscription is free. 

Google requires you to have a Google account, then to enable translation services and also to pay $20 US via Google checkout. Google also gives you some nice tools to view how many translations have occurred.

One you get your AppID from Bing, or an API Key from Google, you click the enable button at the top, click the radio button to the left of the service that you want to use, and then and only then can you paste in your API key. This was confusing to me. I could not paste my key in until I enabled the "Use machine translation while chatting" button at the top. I expected that I could copy and paste my key right away. Also, the key is in plain text. Since it is worth money, I would hope this would be changed to a password field. The Jira for this is

There is also a handy 'verify' button that double checks that you have a valid key. Other than my confusion on pasting in my API key, this is a very good user interface design.

Chat Window

Now that your translator is ready for use, you have one more control. Click the arrow next to the chat box to open up the chat window, and at the top you will see an checkbox to enable and disable the translator.

chat window

Why do I need a scripted translators?

The viewer version is superior to scripted translators in several ways, but it does have a problem other than costs and difficulty in using it. It is receive-only. This means you cannot talk to someone and tell them how to activate the translation service. So a HUD translator will still a necessity for many people.

When you use the viewer translator, all work is done is entirely client-side, and not at the server. Server-scripted translator HUDS all run on the server and can cause all scripts to slow down, especially at large venues.

What to do?

If you are a casual user of translation services, Bing is the way to go. Turn of the translate chat button when you don't need translation services. Use either Bing or Googles web site when you need to teach someone to enable the translator.

If you are one of the 60% of the non-english speaking population, a a heavy user of translation, then Google is still the way to go. Your $20 will go a long way, perhaps as long as a year.

Back to the Best Free Tools in Second Life and OpenSim.