Mathias Brandewinder on .NET, F#, VSTO and Excel development, and quantitative analysis / machine learning.
by Mathias 19. September 2010 16:48

fail-owned-translation-failI have been involved recently with a project for a foreign company with offices in the US; the US team receives lots of documents in a foreign language which require translation, and they were interested in a way to speed up the process, using Bing Translator and Google Translate.

Why not just pick one? Both are awesome, but if you have tried them, you know the results can be somewhat random. Having the option to compare their respective results is a good way to make sure you end up with something which makes sense.

This sounded like a perfect case for the Strategy Pattern. I started by defining a common interface:

public interface ITranslator
{
  string TranslateToHindi(string original);
  string TranslateToEnglish(string original);
}

… and implemented two versions, the BingTranslator and the GoogleTranslator, using the API for each of these services. So far so good, but when I started working on the user interface, I ran into a small problem. My user interface has just 2 buttons, “translate to English”, and “Translate to Hindi”, and Ideally, I would have liked to  just pass the specific language pair to use, along these lines:

private void toEnglishButton_Click(object sender, RibbonControlEventArgs e)
{
  ITranslator translator = this.GetTranslator();
  this.TranslateStuff(translator, stuffToTranslate, “en”, “hi”);
}

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by Mathias 24. December 2009 08:28

After spending a few years working mostly with C#, it has become a natural, comfortable way to think about programming problems. I won’t complain about it -- comfort is nice. At the same time, I strongly believe in questioning what you do, especially the un-stated assumptions. When you start doing things a certain way without asking yourself if this is indeed the way to go, you are on a dangerous path, especially in a fast-evolving field like software engineering. So when I read the advice to “learn one new language every year”, it resonated, and I decided to give a shot at F#. I purchased “Programming F#”, and I am working my way through the Project Euler problems as an exercise.

This is my first exposure to functional languages, and it has proven a very stimulating mental exercise so far. One particular aspect I have struggled with is if … then statements. Chris Smith says that “if expressions work just as you would expect”. That’s sort of true, except for the fact that an if … then statement with no else clause can’t return a value.

This made me realize how much I use single-pronged if statements in C#, guard clauses being a prime example.

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