Day three of this year’s Code for America Summit followed an unconference format. Luke Crouch and I facilitated a session called “Localization: Benefits & Challenges.” During the session, each of us talked about why we find localization a valuable and beneficial activity, challenges to localization and brain-stormed tools and solutions.
Here are our notes. If you’re working on localization/internationalization in open source projects, especially mobile web apps, I’d love to hear from you!
- greatest need for access to info is often non-english speaking
- human needs are language agnostic, services should be as well
- incorporating all perspectives requires crossing languages
- empower cross-cultural understanding
What needs L10n?
- knowledge bases
- phone trees
- social media
- print media
- keeping content up to date
- maintaining parity with english-language content
- machine translation vs human translation
- quality assurance
- keeping entire loop translated / fractured experiences
- selecting and prioritizing languages
- fonts / non-roman alphabets
- right-to-left languages and user interactions
- partnership building takes time
- determining best practices
- trust between communities?
- socio-political context
Note: Internationalization (I18n) is the process of preparing a project for localization. Localization (L10n) is the process of translating content.
- have users be translators
- concentrate on building local communities
- *listen* to needs of users. what do they need translated?
- user interface vs content
- platforms & tools address user interface
- content is trickier: micro-sites, data stores, other?
Tools (libraries for L10n)
- gnu gettext: https://www.gnu.org/software/gettext/ implemented in many languages
- jed: http://slexaxton.github.io/Jed/
- webl10n.js: https://github.com/fabi1cazenave/webL10n
- many more…
Platforms (for collecting/managing translations)
- Pontoon (in development by Mozilla): https://pontoon-dev.mozillalabs.com/
- CrowdIn: http://crowdin.net/
- Transifex: https://www.transifex.com/
- Babelzilla: http://www.babelzilla.org/
- Pootle: http://translate.sourceforge.net/wiki/
Action items moving forward
- establish best practices
- create a turn-key process and/or technology stack
- organized translation camps
Unconference facilitators asked each member of the session to provide a “one-thing” take-away from the session.
- Localization is not just an international issue
- Frame of reference for doing localization
- Localization is solvable and urgent
- We can work together right now to make this better