Open Source Conference in Zilina and Slovak localization

From Thursday July 1 to Sunday July 4, I attended a local open source conference in the Slovak city of Zilina. The conference was called Otvorený softvér vo vzdelávaní, výskume a v IT riešeniach 2010 (i.e. “Open Source Software in Education, Research and IT Solutions 2010″). Unlike the conference of the same name last year, this year it was being organized by a Slovak open source society Spoločnosť pre Otvorené Informačné Technológie (“Society for Open Source Information Technologies”), held at a local university campus, and sponsored by e.g. HP or Red Hat.

Organizers thought not only of a highly specialized event for technical academia, but also of a convenient place to let the open source community gather together. Since todays Slovakia has (still) so much in common with the Czech Republic (and this is far from being only a language thing, i.e. the fact that Slovak and Czech languages are mutually intelligible), representatives from both countries were present, and it was nice to see the omnipresent language switching during both the official conference program and past-conference informal social events.

As for my presence at the conference, it all began in the spring when on various places throughout the Slovak and Czech technology-oriented websites and online communities, people started to express discontent with some parts of the Slovak FLOSS localization, and, particularly, with the translation quantity and very much related work flow issues that evolved within the GNOME Slovak translation team. For what it’s worth, a little later this was also brought to attention of the general GNOME translation community by one of the Slovak translators who also attended the Zilina conference. Eventually, the Slovak case was discussed thoroughly by the GNOME Translation Project coordinators and settled down with Slovak coordinator stepping down from his role in the beginning of July.

But back to my participation. I discussed the described issue with Czech FLOSS advocate Vlastimil Ott (see his summary report from the conference, and some pictures) and with Slovak organizer Miloš Šrámek of the mentioned Slovak Society, and I was invited to take part in the event, as they previously decided on devoting one of the conference days to FLOSS localization. I was generously sponsored by organizers to be able to attend the event and give a talk on FLOSS localization on Saturday morning. (Thank you!) Miloš Šrámek also approached many of the Slovak FLOSS translators and invited them to Zilina. Though not many of them visited us on Saturday eventually, the event generally went good among the organizers, presenters, and audience who were actively participating in the subsequent debate.

We concluded the debate with similar points that were outlined in the linked GNOME Slovak case resolution. Also, we identified a persistent issue with how the Slovak FLOSS translation community is organized (or, better say, disorganized). During the debate, Miloš Šrámek offered a proposal of setting up a centralized place to gather the translation community together, and to begin work on common fundamental terminology, glossaries and translation memories, much similar to what the Czech project L10N.cz is or tries to be nowadays. The possibility of operating local instance of the Pootle server to help mainly beginners, at least partially, with the localization process was also discussed.

Hopefully, some willing Slovak translator or, better, group of translators will volunteer to put this much viable idea into action soon.