Open source project: 4 essentials for an efficeint localization

While many users understand English quite well, it is also true that many prefer to change the interface language to their native one to make interacting with application more convenient and easier. Besides, multilingual user interface is an additional advantage when you promote an open source project.

How to organize an efficient open source project localization? There are at least four main conditions to meet.

#1. Great product.

Open source is not about money. So if you wish people contribute to your open source project localization, you should offer something really useful, or innovative. According to a survey conducted by ONLYOFFICE, more than 40% of contributors decide to participate in ONLYOFFICE localization just because they like the product and want to help ONLYOFFICE conquer the world. 30% of participants already use ONLYOFFICE in their company and need to translate it to their native language for more convenient use. But the interesting thing is that at least 10% of translators do it just for fun because they like translating. Why not? The open source project localization is a great experience for those who start their IT translator career. There is no deadline, there is always a great community ready to help, and a good glossary to start with.

#2. Great translation tool.

As a rule, when you localize an application, there are a few things to translate. Say you want to translate Redmine into your native language, then you have to translate two lang files: the main lang .yml file and the wiki toolbar lang .js file. It’s simple if you have already worked with such files. Our survey showed that 70% of translators are working in IT, so for them it’s not a big deal to find an appropriate program for translation. Many IT projects, like ownCloud, use Transifex, a platform for an easy application localization. At ONLYOFFICE we use an online translation system designed by our developers to simplify the localization process. This is a kind of a portal, that can be accessed from anywhere at any time and does not require any additional software to be installed. The ONLYOFFICE translators can view all the available languages, and the translations made previously, use filters and search engine. The main advantage of such a system or platform is that it allows many contributors to work simultaneously even if they translate to the same language.

#3. Great communication system.

Open source is first and foremost a community. To get the things done better and faster, communication is needed. The simplest way is an email communication. Many open source projects use forums or a ticket system for solving translation and localization issues and reporting. Transifex offers a set of tools that allow contributors see which languages are translated, which ones are unfinished, and which issues need to be resolved. When we started our project, we created the ‘Breaking the Language Barriers’ portal on the base of ONLYOFFICE using some of its modules: Community with blogs, forums, bookmarks and wiki, Chat to communicate in real time, Documents to store and share files if needed, and People. Today we don’t make an active use of this portal, but ONLYOFFICE contributors can still find translation tips and tricks there.

#4. Great glossary and dictionaries.

A good glossary is half the battle for translators. Almost all projects have their own glossary. It’s very useful as it allows contributors to unify their translations and beginners to start translating easily. The most complete one I have ever found for information technology translation is Terminology Search by Microsoft. To find an appropriate glossary, there are also such systems as Glossary Links by European Parliament.

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