You can now test Firefox's local translation implementation
Firefox users who rely on third-party extensions to add translation functionality to the browser may soon have a native option at their disposal that is privacy-focused as it runs locally in the browser.
Mozilla revealed in early 2019 that it was working on a translation feature that would add native translate functionality to the Firefox web browser; one feature that Firefox lacked that Google Chrome and many other Chromium-based browsers supported.
Project Bergamot is a research project that is funded by the European Union. Several European universities and Mozilla work hand in hand to create a local translation service that does not require cloud connectivity after it has been installed.
In January 2021, we took a look at the progress made based on a Twitter post of a team member. Demonstration videos are useful, but most Firefox users may prefer a hands-on approach, and that is possible right now.
There are some caveats though at this point in development. The extension is in constant development and offers limited translate functionality only at this point in time. Currently, it is possible to translate Spanish and Estonian to English and vice versa, and English to German.
All languages are included in the extension package at the time, and that means that the extension has a size of more than 120 Megabyte.
Last but not least, the Bergamot extension works only in Firefox Nightly and requires that several preferences are set correctly.
Let's take a look at how the extension works before we provide you with setup instructions.
Firefox displays a translate toolbar below its address bar when you open a page that is in a supported language that is not installed in Firefox. If you have installed English and Spanish in Firefox, you won't get options to translate either language into the other.
The toolbar displays options to translate the page into one of the supported languages.
The initial translation of a language in a session takes a long time currently, between ten and thirty seconds, while consecutive translations may happen faster. Mozilla needs to reduce the load time significantly, and it is very likely that this is already a task on the development agenda.
An option to "never translate" a particular language is not included yet, but it is likely that it will be integrated in the final version.
The translation quality is quite good already for the supported languages, especially when you consider that everything happens locally in the browser.
Test Firefox's translation feature
The Bergamot extension requires an up to date version of Firefox Nightly. Several preferences need to be changed in that Nightly version:
- Load about:config in the address bar.
- Confirm that you will be careful.
- Set xpinstall.signatures.dev-root to TRUE.
- Set xpinstall.signatures.required to FALSE if other extensions are installed.
- Set browser.proton.enabled to TRUE, as Bergamot works only with the new Proton design of the browser.
- Set browser.proton.infobars.enabled to FALSE; the toolbar of the translation feature won't work otherwise.
- Set dom.postMessage.sharedArrayBuffer.bypassCOOP_COEP.insecure.enabled to TRUE.
- Restart Firefox.
Once done, use this link to install the Bergamot extension in the web browser.
Project Bergamot is an interesting project that could introduce a much-needed translation feature in Firefox, one that is protecting user privacy because translations don't require a connection to remote servers.
Now You: do you use translation services in your browser of choice? (via SÃ¶ren Hentzschel)
“All languages are included in the extension package at the time, and that means that the extension [Bergamot] has a size of more than 120 Megabyte.”
I’d be curious to know the size of data and algorithms (because translating text is far more than the sum of word translations) on Google Translate or even DeepL servers. Likely far more. I have in mind the quality of Bergamot translations.
As many of us I appreciate tasks which can be performed off-line, Bergamot Translation included, but I do believe that a number of tasks, those requiring heavy data, are better served by on-line services. Google Translate handles over a hundred languages, DeepL Translation over thirty I think. Both deliver quite good results, especially the latter. I’d rather emphasize on Google Translate competitors’ development than on an off-line browser extension.
“If you have installed English and Spanish in Firefox, you won’t get options to translate either language into the other.”. This is structural as I understand it and would mean that languages set in Firefox by the user cannot translate each other. Are we referring to about:preferences > General > Language? I may have English and French installed and yet aim to translate either one to the other.
Bergamot is a work in progress, OK. But not appealing at this time. heavy, cumbersome. I’m skeptical regarding the carrying-out and even more concerning the final result.
> Do you use translation services in your browser of choice?
I’ve used for always scripts to translate Web pages with Google Translate and text with DeepL Translation until I discovered here on Ghacks the ‘Translate Web Pages’ extension (Firefox here) which is absolutely fantastic IMO, used mainly for whole page translations and together with a script devoted to DeepL for text only translations.
> As many of us I appreciate tasks which can be performed off-line, Bergamot Translation included, but I do believe that a number of tasks, those requiring heavy data, are better served by on-line services.
Security and privacy reasons:
With an offline translator, you can translate anything you want and are not afraid of information leaks.
While everything that you enter in online translators (in particular, google translate) immediately flies to google servers and is analyzed there.
The world NEEDS a good offline translator, because there is a large amount of text that needs to be translated, but at the same time, their content should not get to third parties (especially such as Google): NDA documents, personal correspondence, texts containing personal data, etc.
A personal view on the Bergamot Project:
My opinion on the Browser (Firefox) translation extension:
Public Service Announcement / The former about:config page is at:
By the way, re “2. Confirm that you will be careful.”… Is there anyone here who did not disable this years ago? Lol!
A great idea. Let’s wait and see how Mozilla Corporation is going to ruin it. For instance, is there some telemetry going on here, in spite of this being supposed to work offline ?