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The WinDi project celebrates its 25th anniversary!

A feasibility study of the WinDi project was conducted in mid 1989 and as a conclusion, the development was launched end of 1989 for the production of the multilingual database (dictionary). Initially the major European languages were selected: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Dutch. Portuguese was added later (mid-1996). To date, WinDi software is the only tool covering all these 7 languages so comprehensively!

A clear goal was chosen from the start: the database would be completely multidirectional. Therefore, the dictionary was created by teams of native speakers working together, in order to prevent any mistranslations.

For reasons of efficiency and reliability, we chose to indicate all the necessary grammatical comments for each word (irregular verb, gender of the nouns, etc.). MS Windows was the platform chosen for obvious reasons of market share. The 'WinDi Dictionary' package was released in December '93.

The 'WinDi Tools' package was the next to be developed. This package allows more than 10,000 verbs per language to be conjugated, and also the WinDi Dictionaries database to be enlarged. This development was in response to many enquiries from end-users. The 'WinDi Tools' package was released mid-1994, and sold independently of the WinDi Dictionaries.

Then, we chose to merge all these translation help modules into a single all-in-one package, 'WinDi Translation Help', in response to market demand. This package featured 2 new modules, the first being called 'WinDi On Line', allowing users to get the translation of a word by simply clicking on it. The second new module was 'Voice for WinDi', resulting from a collaboration with Creative Labs, and providing text-to-speech in four languages (English, French, German, Spanish).

The 'WinDi Translation Help' package was released in April 1995, and presented for the first time in the US marketplace at the Comdex Spring show in Atlanta (24-27 April 95), where it received an enthusiastic welcome.

A few months earlier, our most ambitious linguistic development yet was being launched: the 'WinDi Direct Translation' project, allowing complete sentences to be translated. This project was born to complete our 'Word-by-word' translation (WinDi Translation/Understanding Help).

At the time, automatic translators available on the market claimed that they could translate any kind of text reliably and accurately. However, what they actually provide are draft translations that can never be used directly without verification.

We then made up our minds to produce a highly interactive translator, providing high-quality translations that could be used in international communications, without having to resort to professional translators (except for legal contracts, advertisement, or similar binding or 'cultural' literature). As the database had been conceived according to a 'multidirectional' concept, we made use of this asset to develop a sentence translation tool working from and to any of the 7 languages.

When a sentence is translated into one target language, the translation is immediately available in the other 6 languages! The new 'WinDi Direct Translation' was included in the 'WinDi Translation Help' package as a beta version in November 1995, and was unveiled for the first time at Comdex Fall, Las Vegas (13-17 November 95). The 'WinDi Direct Translation' commercial version was released for the first time in the 1997 packaged version.

The 'WinDi Direct Translation' module was, and still is, unique on the market. Its linguistic qualities impressed many people, from 'casual' users to professional linguists who had already worked on translation projects. The new 'WinDi Translation Help' package, with all its modules, meets three particular needs as far as foreign communication is concerned: help in understanding, translation help, and language-learning help.

The WinDi Browser program was added into the WinDi package in June 1999. This WEB application required the design of 2 new programs : DICWEB.EXE and GRAMMAR.EXE. The first program is the interface between WinDi and the HTML world. The second displays on screen the agreements in gender and number of nouns and adjectives if asked by the user. The conjugation program (CONJUG.EXE) and the word compiler (WINDIGW.EXE) were adapted to be integrated into WinDi Browser. All this makes WinDi Browser a very ambitious and complex project, namely DICWEB.EXE that includes indispensable parsing!

In September 1999 we finished the database development of the plurals and feminines of nouns and adjectives. This development concerned about 25.000 words per language that have been reviewed one by one in order to define the agreement rules and all their exceptions. The major part of this job was to retrieve the feminine of the person nouns (in 7 languages). This work took more than 3 years starting in 1996... These functions simply doubled WinDi's possibilities while giving to the user a linguistic service which is unique and cannot be found anywhere else !

In March 2003 we launched the WinDi On-Line Services available on subscription and we also developed the WinDi Web Services Easy Connection Program (WWS). It was then decided to focus our development efforts only on Web-based services. In order to achieve this goal, we developed different language-oriented browsers (based on Internet Explorer) allowing to start the WinDi Sentence Library design.

Indeed, in January 2005 we started the study of WinDi Sentence Library (WSL) based on WinDi Direct Translation. At the same time we also launched the development of WSL-Batch. WSL and WSL-Batch were added (beginning 2007) to our On-Line services.

Beginning of March 2007, the WinDi Development Team released the WinDi Translation Search Engine allowing to retrieve already translated sentences into the WinDi Database. At this time, there were already about 23.500.000 entries in this database (including words, conjugated verbs and grammar examples). Four weeks later, the database reached the size of more than 30.000.000 entries thanks to the WSL-Batch robot generating more than 250.000 sentences per day. This was the launching phase of this project...

Now, more than 50.000.000 sentences are added into the WinDi Database each week under the supervision of the WinDi Linguistic Team. One year later, in April 2008, we reached the amazing database size of more than 2.5 billion entries in the WinDi Translation Search Engine (representing about 25.000 paper dictionaries). In June 2008, the database was rebuilt on a new 20-terrabyte cluster to allow the hosting of more than 50 billion translations (about 500.000 paper dictionaries)...

This makes the WinDi project the largest 7-Language Translation Dictionaries/Database available on the Web.

Many thanks to 93 collaborators!

14 programmers designed the WinDi software:

Patrick Remy, Nicholas Molinier, Jean-Pierre D'Angelo, Michaël Boland, Fouad Baidaoui, Christophe Van Valckenborgh, Alexandre Barba, Jean-Marc Van Schendel, Eric Coets, Marc Jadoul, Vincent Pirson, Grigorios Ozsuvaridis, Martha Mendez, Irène Rousseau.

79 linguistic collaborators designed the WinDi Database (dictionary, conjugation, grammar):

Bernadette Putman, Daniel Keutgen, Alexandre Klinkenberg, Sylvie Bellocchi, Claudia Stang, Nathalie Hubert, Marc Impens, Pedro Mingot Comenge, Pierre Jourdain, Silke Kunstreich, Marco Pettenello, Houria Bouajaja, Isabelle Slinckx, Marie-Laurence Demousselle, Elke Allgaier, Michele Squarci, Chaverri Van Brabant, Carmela Valeron, Adela Batalla, Nandi Anjoushree, Paula Stevenne, Carlos Bazán, Christophe Kerremans, Didier Lecomte, Myriam Lemahieu, Armin Wisdorff, Ferreira Fernandez, Marleen Korst, Catherine Herreman, Tanguy Van Moerkercke, Reyes Mingot Comenge, Vincent Ronnet, Ingrid Van Loocke, Aude Henrotay, Véronique Lebrun, Kerstin Tepper, José García Martín, Matthias Müller, Lieve Van Seghbroeck, Olivier Scheffer, Inès Collantes, Sacha Polverini, Hélène Zoler, Virginie Lefort, Luisa Sabbatini, David Libens, Wim Huybrechts, Nathalie de Mul, Irina Sergejeva, Marie-Alexandre Bouchat, Cosma Mai, Calzada Ruiz, Nathalie Van Berwaer, Paloma Castro, Anna-Lea Stoico, Vincenzo Russo, Francesca De Rosa, Sven Mettner, JC Erdozain Acedo, Laurence Durieux, Moises Encinas, Marcella Cottone, Giovanni Francese, Nathalie Vastersavendts, Xavier Bockstael, Pierre-Yves Pellegrin, Fiorella Flamini, Joselito Romacq, Carmela La Iacona, Patricia Dias da Moita Janeiro, Stéphanie Dumortier, Marie Vansteelandt, Isabelle De Vos, Celia Groothedde, Diego Mercado, Stefano Romeo, Christine Keller, Carla Sofia Roma de Oliveira, Kim Meaney.

All these collaborators are at least bilingual, and many of them know 3 or even 4 languages.

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