Making Life Easier for Localizers - Introducing Verbatim
The webdev and L10n-drivers teams have been talking about implementing an online localization tool for a few months and I’m happy to report that a plan is progressing. Seth Bindernagel has been giving updates about the planning process and the direction we’re going in. Our planning decisions will probably come up but my focus here will be on the actual implementation of the tool.
We’ve decided to use the codename Verbatim to refer to this project.
I’ve started some wiki pages that are short but growing. As usual there is a meeting notepad which anyone is welcome to peruse. The wiki page offers a brief description but I can give a short summary of our current situation and where I’d like to see it go. This tool will be used for both the Firefox browser and Mozilla web sites. I expect my posts to lean towards talking about the web since that’s where my brain is but it’s important to keep both in mind.
The current situation:
- L10n projects are scattered around in different places. Most web sites are in SVN but the browser’s L10n is in CVS.
- L10n projects use several different formats.
- There are unnecessarily complex permissions in our system. Localizers need an LDAP account and then have to be specifically granted permission in the SVN directory to commit. Sometimes those two get decoupled and strange permission errors happen.
- Some of our projects use a potentially slow process. For example, on AMO, some localizers still add updated translations to a bug as attachments and then I commit them to SVN manually. This takes time and if I don’t get to it for a while the localizer is stuck waiting on me to update before they can verify the changes.
- When we add or change a string on a web site we generally just email the dev-l10n-web mailing list which is easy to miss. There is an RSS feed coming out of SVN but that’s still not an ideal notification system.
- Provide a central point of localization where someone can see all L10n projects for a locale and the amount of work to be done on each.
- Provide a common interface for localizing all of our different file types.
- Provide an easy way to change the strings online.
- Provide an easy way to be notified of new and changed strings.
- Optionally, provide the public with a way to suggest changes to existing strings. L10n leaders will be able to approve or reject these suggestions at their convenience.
After reviewing many tools online, in the interest of time, completeness, and alignment with the plan, the webdev and L10n-drivers team have decided to use Pootle and the Translate Toolkit for our initial release. Pootle in it’s current form already implements the basics of Firefox L10n and supports regular .po files. The webdev goal over the next few weeks will be to setup an official Pootle development area and start figuring out how to convert our L10n projects’ file types to something Pootle can import and export.
I’m hoping these changes will encourage new users to get involved and make things easier for our long time contributers. The plan is still in development and, as usual, input is welcome. Real time discussion is easiest in #verbatim on IRC. Email and comments here are effective as well.
 Just to be clear, I don’t want this tool to become a bottleneck or hinder localizers that have a good process down. It will still be possible to do check-ins to the repositories manually without using the web interface. The current Pootle web interface can be played with or you can watch a screencast for more details.