Helping Free Software: Translations

Well the latest version of PSmisc is almost finished, so I pushed the tar archive up to the spot for the translators, waiting for the updates before it gets released.

It reminded me that perhaps a lot of people don’t know how their programs get translated. Perhaps there are some that could even contribute.  The nice thing about the translation systems is that you don’t need to know programming to help.

PSmisc uses the translation project as its method.  The program itself uses gettext for the translation part which makes a single text file called a POT file.  A translator takes this text file and makes a po file, such as it.po for the Italian translation and then translates, which basically means editing the file, reading each first line of a set and writing the translation on the second line.

For the programmer, once it is setup it is pretty simple to use, just mark your translatable lines and follow some simple rules, mainly about not embedding too much in a string.  I’ve used this system for years for quite a few of my programs and there is little added work for me.

Unfortunately,  translating is hard work and should be a long-term commitment.  Having a look at the translation project’s Translation Matrix and you can see that some languages do suffer, though there are some very good results there too.  Particular kudos goes to the Vietnamese group which I think is just Clytie who does a marvellous job and is often the first translation file I get.

For the Debian project, there are many places where translations can occur.  There doesn’t seem to be a centralised place for this, but some of the places they use translation work are: