Managing Drupal Web Translations with Translation Proxy vs. Translation Integration

As digital platforms continue to expand beyond borders, understanding and effectively utilizing web translation has become a necessity for businesses with an international audience. Two primary strategies for managing web translations are: Translation Integration via a Translation Management System (TMS) combined with a Content Management System (CMS), and Translation Proxy.

What are Translation Integration and Translation Proxy?

Translation Integration involves using a Translation Management System, which handles the translation of strings and typically integrates with a Content Management System. This integration allows editors to have full control over the content in the same format they manage the default English site. This method provides an avenue for precise control over all translated content on a website.

On the other hand, a Translation Proxy is a service that hosts a copy of your static HTML web pages and provides in-place string translations on the fly. It is a layer of technology sitting between your website and the user, translating content in real-time as the user accesses the site.

At Facet Interactive, we generally recommend utilizing a translation management service such as Lingotek. This approach allows for greater control over localization, embedded media, and tailoring the user experience for your new language audiences.

Examining Translation Proxy


  1. Quick to set up.
  2. Hosted externally from the main website, reducing load on your internal systems.
  3. Stays up to date with recent translations without much management or oversight.


  1. Slower page speeds due to proxy relay.
  2. Occasional "bleed throughs" of the default language. If a page's content has changed recently, the proxy may not have updated translations ready, leading to an inconsistent user experience.
  3. Limited contextual inclusion of different media assets or forms, as only text string translations for structure "in place" can be provided.


  1. The quality of interactive experiences, such as location search, event search, and Formstack forms, may vary or be less than ideal.

Exploring Translation Integration / Translation Management System


  1. Managing content in CMS means each field is separately translated, offering precision control.
  2. Media assets can be replaced, crucial when they contain embedded text in the header image.
  3. PDF download links can be dynamically replaced, which may be important for any gated offers (not possible with a proxy).
  4. Formstack forms can be replaced, allowing conversion tracking in different languages (also not possible with a proxy).
  5. Translated nodes are linked with their English and other language counterparts.
  6. A translated site's structure doesn't have to perfectly match the English site's structure. Some sections can be removed, or only served in English.
  7. Reduced risk of English "bleeds" into other languages.
  8. Configuration of metatags in each language is possible with Drupal Translation Management. This can enhance SEO, which isn't possible with a proxy.


  1. It requires more effort to set up, manage, and maintain.
  2. It typically costs more than using a proxy.
  3. The turnaround times for translation services may vary. Expect a workflow where you create a page in English, submit it for translation, accept the translation back into the duplicated Drupal node, and then tailor/modify media assets. This can increase content production efforts.

To dive deeper into these two solutions, here are some resources for additional reading:

  1. The Future of Language Technology: The Benefits and Dangers of Translation Proxy
  2. 5 Things to Know When Localizing a Drupal Website in 2022
  3. Smartling vs. Lingotek

In conclusion, while both Translation Proxy and Translation Integration have their place, the choice depends on your specific needs. For businesses that require a high level of control over content, embedded media, and user experience across multiple languages, a Translation Management System integrated with a CMS is often the more favorable solution.