The Golden Rules

These are the Golden Rules of localization direction setting initially used by Translate.org.za. They are born out of the goal of wanting to have the greatest potential impact on language speakers with localised Free Software.

There are three rules, software that we translate must be:

With these basic rules in mind you can more intelligently select your software targets.

End-user Focused

The person who will most benefit from localized software is the desktop bound end-user. It is not the sysadmin or programmer. These are the people most likely to have less command of English while sysadmins have probably in the course of their work had to come to terms with English on the computers that they use.

This also means that you need to examine what type of software is generally used by an end-user. This would include: office suites, email programs and web-browsers, instant messaging and even games.

Free Software

Again if you want to make the most impact on the most people you need to remove barriers. Free Software removes two barriers:

  • being Free is the very reason why you can localize the software with relative ease (No NDAs, etc), and
  • your localised software is then available to a broad community with easy sharing and community based sharing dramatically reducing the cost of acquisition.

Cross-platform

The reality is that most computer users are using Microsoft Windows. Until that changes a heavy focus should be on cross-platform products. Thus you can provide a solution to Windows user while at the same time providing an avenue for them to move to a Free operating system.

It is much easier to provide a localised office suite solution that does not require a complete retooling of the users operating environment.

How Translate.org.za applied the Golden Rules

These are the Golden Rules applied to the target selection at Translate.org.za:

Here is the explanation for this choice. OpenOffice.org is a leading Free Software, End-user focused and cross-platform piece of software and so meets all of the 3 requirements. However, so is Mozilla (and its offspring, Thunderbird and Firefox). We place OpenOffice.org before Mozilla because when using OpenOffice.org you are immersed in the language because you are probably editing an Afrikaans document while using an Afrikaans interface. While a web-browser gives you an Afrikaans window frame onto an English Internet. the argument does not apply as well to an email reader such as Thunderbird in that you are creating content in an email program. This is when you need to make a call.

Mozilla is localized before we look at any Linux desktops simply because people use Windows and Mozilla fills a gap in the needs of the end-user.

Translate.org.za has not made any firm decisions about desktops. We have localized both KDE and GNOME in the past and continue to do various depending on conditions and funding. The project sees this as an important step in creating a fully localised Free Software environment but is at a lower priority while there are still low hanging fruit in the cross-platform area.

We relagate Linux installer and distribution specific localisation to a lower rung. Distribution specific configuration programs are problematic in that they have limited impact to the distribution as apposed to a whole sea of Free Software users. But they are important for a seemless end-user experience. Some of them are also only used once, for example during software installation making localisation of them wasteful of resources.

Not listed are the localisation of kernel messages and command line tools. This is moving far beyond the realm of the average end-user and until a growth is seen in usage in this area they will remain off our radar.

What to do as a single person or a small team

The programs mentioned above are very big, and you might not have enough time to attempt such large projects yet. It is also good to start with something smaller, which will give you the satisfaction of completing a project, and give you something with which to encourage others to help you.

Here are some ideas of projects to look into: