Advice for language translators needed

Looking at the entire scope of what lay before me, translators seems to be the most surprising in terms of complexity.

Last night I watched tutorials on Loco Translate and Poedit. Along with WPML which I didn’t get to, but I read up on a bit, these are the most highly recommended plugins/services/software.

I’m so thoroughly confused as to how to even approach this topic after just one peek. I’m perfectly ignorant on the subject. I honestly thought most of it was done automatically by some magical google API that translated every word in every language. Click of a button, maybe install something with npm… was not expecting “you get 200,000 translation credits for $180” or “this gives you a box to enter your own translations”.

So it’s 2022. If you’re building a brand new plugin, what’s the easiest and most affordable way to get translations, and why isn’t all this just done with Google translate?

One more question… If I’m just building plugins for my own use for now, do I even need them? Should they be put off until I’m done with everything? Anything output on the frontend is translatable with browsers.

Thanks in advance.

Translate yourself what you can/hire an affordable translator
Plugins are generally translated at po level, not with WPML. WPML is more for translating a website.

why isn’t all this just done with Google translate

Because of context
“Press the button” could become “press the button” as in “training press” for example (in other languages that make a difference)
Lots of translations of machines are “ok”. Many however will be totally out of context and that’s why you should never use machine translations. Ever. Unless you don’t care for quality (like a quick chat or on travel trip that is ok but for professional translations it’s not)

TranslatePress and weglots are also popular.

I intend to have a multilingual social network site and was planning to explore wpml first. A lot/most will be done with automatic machine translation, but I’ll have human oversight when possible.

My main question that I’ll be trying to answer is which plugins can do automatic translation of new posts and store the translation in the database, to be served directly when someone has selected that language. Perhaps they all do that though.

I am not sure about TP and WeGlots but WPML can do that - both machine and human and it is stored in the DB

What I dislike with WPML is its massive complexity. But that comes with its flexibility, it is just like Toolset - much power much to learn.

Yeah, I intend to use WPML for various reasons (e.g. TP apparently doesn’t really store any user-level language settings - its more of a front-end translation mechanism. This means that it can’t send emails in the user’s language, which is a no-go for me. And WeGlot is quite expensive, from what I understand.). Hopefully it won’t be too complicated!

Perhaps we can/will add a category for Multilingual at some point? Its fairly relevant to Dynamic sites.