Localization Update for the 2010 Q3 GNOME Quarterly Report

(As drafted on the gnome-i18n mailing list several days ago.)

On July 29, Andre Klapper represented the GNOME Translation Project at the AGM meeting at GUADEC with a Project update report. At GUADEC, he also gave a talk on “Identifying software projects and translation teams in need” where he provided an overview of interesting data combined & gathered from Damned Lies, GNOME Bugzilla and other relevant sources.

Gil Forcada, with the feedback from other community members, conducted the GNOME I18N Survey by sending a questionnaire on August 13 to every GTP language coordinator, and collecting answers for two weeks. Out of 120 coordinators, 36 answered. The rationale behind the survey was to know each other within the GNOME translation community better, and thus to find ways the GTP can improve the overall experience of translating GNOME.

The sent questionnaire consisted of more than 20 questions on various areas of community l10n in GNOME, e.g. inquiring about general team information, coordinatorship & membership, team workflow, QA processes, use & evaluation of GNOME Damned Lies infrastructure, collaborating with downstream translators, other translation teams, and language institutions, community knowledge sharing, etc.

As for the GNOME development itself, GTP language teams have been busy working on providing l10n support for the new GNOME stable release 2.32, which was delivered on September 29. GTP has been also investigating approaches to help out language teams that seemed to be considerably short on manpower and/or proper coordinatorship, this included the Persian and Welsh teams.

We also communicated with GNOME developers to try to solve i18n issues with translating strings within submodules, strings with constructed sentences, and some other problems that (re)appeared during the Q3 period.

During Q4, apart from working on l10n support for the upcoming GNOME 3, GTP community aims for identifying issues with the current i18n & l10n infrastructure inside and outside the GNOME Project, like the Git commit functionality, and solving them, hopefully implementing the necessary GTP support for repositories hosted at git.gnome.org and elsewhere. This is to be done in conjunction with the Release Team’s proposal for moduleset reorganization.

It’s time to participate in the GNOME i18n survey

If you happen to be one of the GNOME Translation Project language team coordinators, and you haven’t done so yet, now is the right time to participate in the GNOME i18n survey conducted by Gil Forcada on behalf of the GNOME Translation Project!

The rationale behind this survey is that the GNOME i18n community (which the language team coordinators are naturally part of) wants to know better each other, so that the GNOME Translation Project can improve the overall experience of translating GNOME, as Gil outlined in his survey email. Some of you may remember that there was a similar survey conducted by an Ubuntu i18n community in the past which greatly inspired this effort.

On August 13, Gil sent out a plain text file with survey questions to all coordinators’ addresses we could gather. Nevertheless, only a fraction of coordinators have responded so far, so once again, in case you are one of the majority, please don’t hesitate to take a few moments to fill out the questionnaire! Or if you know any of those coordinators, please ping them! Yes, it’s quite important!

For those of you interested in knowing what the survey questions are, you can find them attached in the aforementioned Gil’s email, and a final draft is available on live.gnome.org. Also keep an eye there for results.

Interested in helping Pan?

Usenet may not be as popular as it used to be years ago, but this worldwide net definitely still has its users. According to Wikipedia, it was established in 1980, so Usenet users observe a nice anniversary this year. Given its popular stance throughout the Internet history, there exist, without much surprise, many FLOSS solutions to access Usenet, or to work with the NNTP. Using GNOME software, you can accomplish it e.g. with the official GNOME PIM Evolution.

And then there’s Pan, quite minimalist, HIG respecting, easy-to-use newsreader for GNOME, that has been developed for a decade. Unfortunately, owing to the limited time resources of the main Pan developer Charles Kerr (whom you might also know from the Transmission project), the Pan development has slowed down considerably during the last two or three years, and it’s now officially in hiatus.

The community around the newsreader will hopefully be able to organize itself enough to resume and continue with the active development in the Pan official repository hosted on git.gnome.org. Luckily for Pan users, there’s a competent developer K. Haley around who has been working on Pan during the last few years, although not in the official repository.

Anyway, what the project now needs is, preferably, a bunch of volunteers with interest in Usenet and NNTP who are willing to lend a hand and get involved in the project.

The much needed roles include:

  • a developer with experience in C++, to help out with the Pan main development, to review and accept patches that got accumulated during the years in the “Pan” product at bugzilla.gnome.org,
  • possibly a developer who may be willing to  take over the maintainership in the future, once it is needed, or in case K. Haley will resolve to participate in the project not as the maintainer,
  • bug triagers, patch reviewers, testers,
  • people who are willing to work on user documentation and Pan website that might be migrated from its current location, and which is in serious need of getting up-to-date; I, for myself, am willing to work on these and will appreciate any help,
  • translators who are thankfully willing to work on Pan without break, as the last commits to the official Pan repository are those from the GNOME Translation Project members,
  • users, users, users.

If interested, please contact the Pan community that gather together on the following mailing lists:

Naturally, as with other FLOSS projects, every help and every contributor is welcome. TIA.

Localization Update for the 2010 Q2 GNOME Quarterly Report

(As discussed on the gnome-i18n mailing list.)

Various localization teams that are part of the GNOME Translation Project continued with focusing their localization effort on stable GNOME 2.30.1 and 2.30.2 releases which were released on April 28 and June 23, respectively. Localization teams will proceed further with working on localization for the upcoming GNOME 3 release.

GNOME translation community that gather together on the gnome-i18n mailing list discussed and conducted common translation project administrivia, including assistance in changing coordinators in several localization teams, the most notable case being the Slovak translation team, in which several translators expressed their discontent with the current way of coordination. The issue was thoroughly discussed within the Coordination Team in order to mediate the dispute and was settled down in the beginning of July when the current Slovak coordinator announced his resignation.

Among other things discussed was the legal issue of whether translators who are not legal experts should translate legal notices or license texts that usually come with the free software distribution. This topic was further discussed on the GNOME legal-list with Luis Villa.

Also, there was a change done in the structure of the GNOME Translation Project coordination. Previously, the project was formally led by two Spokes Persons who were also senior members of the extended Coordination Team. Now, the Spokes Person status has been obsoleted in favor of a larger Coordination Team.

For string freeze break requests during the GNOME Desktop development cycle, developers are now required to obtain the approval from two members of the Coordination Team. The Coordination Team that now consists of 11 members will also seek ways to improve the responsiveness about requests.

One of the important tasks that the GNOME Translation Project intends to accomplish during Q3 is completing the implementation of Git commit support through the infrastructure running on l10n.gnome.org.

Czech GNOME LUG nonsuccess

A member of the Czech GNOME community once had a promising idea to strengthen and organize user community in our country (and possibly also counting in people from the neighboring Slovakia) at a common place where interested visitors could find various information on the GNOME Project, and on what could be called as a GNOME software ecosystem, on its developers and, in particular, end users. This all provided in their local language, and considering needs and concerns of the local user group. It was nothing new, after all, we knew about similar local groups that have been very active in, e.g., Asia or Hispanic world.

But contrary to the vital successful ones, the Czech group (or what was meant to be the Czech group) soon showed its limits. I assume that this GNOME LUG attempt failed mainly due to the quantitative factor: in a country with 10 million people, the FLOSS community may be seen as strong and vital enough, probably thanks in part to a distinct tradition of higher technical education (in the country that has been continuously attracting many ICT businesses from 90s on, including those well-known in the FLOSS world), but in the end, it showed that it’s not enough for an enthusiastic individual or a handful of people with interest in a minority software to be able to form an organized group.

Instead of that, Czech and Slovak people who want to read or communicate about FLOSS tend to frequent two or three major Czech FLOSS-oriented websites with a standard set of social networking services. In addition to that, the only viable FLOSS websites beside the major ones are those aimed at “downstream” projects, i.e. distributions, operating systems or productivity software end-user support. This might be a significant drawback for upstream and much more “generic” projects like GNOME in general: users are aware of the distribution they are running, but they don’t know much about exactly what desktop environment they use. Nor they seem to care that much, after all.

So to make long story short, we had (and still have, for what it’s worth) a LUG-supporting website, but we quickly learned that such a website is merely unable to attract its potential users. That being said, for our Czech case, it wasn’t very helpful, either, that the project was planned and realized more or less as a one-man-show, with its primary and sole author not allowing website visitors to actively participate on and contributing to website content, thus making it hardly interactive, making it less like what many call Web 2.0 nowadays.

The author was ultimately able to work on the website for less than a year, from Summer 2008 to April 2009, with the last published news commenting the GNOME 2.26 release. Since then, the website has been dead as in never coming back.

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.

Hello World!

As this is my first blog post on blogs.gnome.org, I would like to thank GNOME administrators for providing such a nice blogging platform for the members of the GNOME community. And then, I guess, I should introduce myself. My name is Petr Kovar (Petr Kovář including diacritical marks), a Czech technical translator and technical writer living in Brno, Czech Republic.

Let me repeat some personal information that I have written on my profile on live.gnome.org: I participate in the Czech GNOME localization, and I am also active in the (Free) Translation Project and a few other internationalization and localization-related projects. Also, I am an occasional FLOSS documentation writer, and a proud GNOME Foundation member.

In the GNOME Translation Project, I am one of the Coordination Team members. As such, you can often find me trying to be of some use to the translation community that gather together on the gnome-i18n@gnome.org mailing list. As of February 2008, I also coordinate the Czech GNOME localization team. Within the Czech translation community, I help with co-maintaining the L10N.cz project which aims to provide coherent glossaries and other various Czech l10n support resources.

I joined the GNOME community as an active translator/contributor in 2007 when I felt the need to help out with the quality and, in particular, quantity of upstream localization in my language. Though I should add here that I have been a happy GNOME user since at least 2001. Oh those years! Anyway…

I have never felt urge to have my own blog (or is it webblog? It seems not, since both terms are being underlined by a default Firefox spell checker, so it must be good old web log, then). Despite my not planning, you better never say never, as they say. I have some ideas, thoughts, stories and happenings that I would like to write or comment about. That being said, I am not going to become a prolific blogger or anything, even without this blog activity, I don’t have as much free time as I would like to. But that is another story.

I guess that my posts will focus mainly on those things that relate to localization and GNOME translation community, or FLOSS translation community in general. There are some great blogs being aggregated on Planet GNOME that I have been reading for quite a time. These are e.g. blogs of Andre Klapper, Johannes Schmid, Leonardo Fontenelle, Friedel Wolff, Og Maciel, or Danilo Segan, to name a few. As I enjoyed them, I thought to myself, why not try to get in and fill in what might be still empty in the GNOME blogosphere. Well, I am about to try to compose at least a few posts, and then see whether it is sustainable for me to keep this alive or not. :-)