Geni brings crowdsourced translations to the masses with release of tr8n translation engine

December 15, 2010

Turnkey solution integrates easily into any Rails site


LOS ANGELES, December 15, 2010 Geni, home to the world’s largest family tree, today announced that they have open-sourced their tr8n crowdsourced translation engine. Tr8n was originally developed by Geni to translate their own site. When Geni gave a few dozen users access to the translation tools, they translated the entire site into seventeen languages in less than two weeks, submitting over 15,000 translations. Geni decided to open source the engine so other sites can take advantage of the technology.


“When we decided to translate Geni into other languages, we looked at a number of options, including hiring professional translators and using Facebook’s translation tools. We quickly realized that there weren’t any great options out there,” said Noah Tutak, President of Geni. “When we discovered that one of our engineers, Michael Berkovich, is fluent in both a Slavic language and a language written right-to-left, we knew we had the in-house expertise to build our own solution. We’re very pleased with the solution that he built”


Tr8n is a Rails engine for crowdsourcing translation. Translators can vote on existing translations, or submit their own inline while browsing the site. The tr8n engine takes into account the grammar rules of each language to provide accurate translations for any context such as the viewing user’s gender and number ranges. Developers can extend tr8n by defining their own rules.


The tr8n engine is a complete translation solution with:

  • Built-in support for over 250 languages
  • Full support for right-to-left languages
  • Translation statistics, rankings, and dashboard
  • Management tools for extensive customization
  • Discussions for translators


“This solution is superior to the default Rails translation framework,” said Amos Elliston, CTO of Geni. “Crowdsourcing your translations means you no longer have to hire expert translators, and your site is quickly and painlessly translated by users in real-time. As your site evolves, new text is translated almost immediately, without the traditional bottleneck you find with paid translators.”


The advantages of tr8n over other popular crowdsourced translation solutions, such as Facebook’s Translation for Facebook Connect, include:

  • User experience – users are not required to have an account on another site
  • Data Ownership – site operators own their translations
  • Powerful – more flexible syntax and context rules for translating complex phrases
  • Performance – translations occur at render time rather than after page loads


The tr8n engine can be seen in action at Developers interested in more information can read the documentation and download the source code at


About Geni, Inc.

Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at, users add and invite their relatives to join their family tree, which Geni compares to other trees. Matching trees are then merged into the single world family tree, which currently contains nearly 50 million living users and their ancestors. Pay services include enhanced research tools as well as keepsake products created from family tree data. Geni welcomes casual genealogists and experts who wish to discover new relatives and stay in touch with family. Geni is privately held and based in Los Angeles, California.