Most Swedes have a basic understanding of English, but many of them are far from being fluent. Hence, it is important that different computer programs are localized so that they can also work in Swedish and other languages. This helps people avoid mistakes and makes the users work faster and more efficienttly. But how is this done?
First and foremost, the different messages in the software need to be translated separately. To get the translation just right and to make sure that the language is consistent requires a lot of thought. In open source software, this work is often done by volunteers who double check each other’s work. This allows for the program to be translated into hundreds of different languages, including minority languages that commercial operators usually do not focus on. As an example, the MediaWiki software that is used in all Wikimedia projects (such as Wikipedia), is translated in this way. As MediaWiki is developed at a rapid pace, with a large amount of new messages each month, it is important for us that we have a large and active community of translators. This way we make sure that everything works in all languages as fast as possible. But what could the Wikimedia movement do to help build this translator community?
We are happy to announce that Wikimedia Sverige is about to start a new project with support from Internetfonden (.Se) (the Internet Fund). The Internet Fund supports projects that improve the Internet’s infrastructure. The idea of translating open software to help build the translator community is in line with their goals. We gave the project a zingy name: “Expanding the translatewiki.net – ‘Improved Swedish localization of open source, for easier online participation’.” This is the first time that Wikimedia Sverige has had a project that focuses on this important element of the user experience. Here we will learn many new things that we will try to share with the wider community while aiming to improve the basic infrastructure on translatewiki.net. The translation platform translatewiki.net currently has 27 programs ready to be translated into 213 languages by more than 6,400 volunteers from around the world.
We will carry out the project in cooperation with Umeå University and Meta Solutions Ltd, with support from the developers of translatewiki.net (who are employed by the Wikimedia Foundation). We will be working on several exciting things and together we will:
- Build a larger and more active community of Swedish-speaking translator on translatewiki.net;
- Design a system for Open Badges and explore how it can be integrated with MediaWiki software. (Do let us know if you are working on something similar so that we can help each other!);
- Complete translations into Swedish for at least five of the remaining programs that are on translatewiki.net;
- Improve usability by inventorying and clarifying the documentation, something that will be done in cooperation with and will benefit the entire community on translatewiki.net;
- Umeå University will conduct research on parts of the project so that we get a deeper understanding of the processes (what exactly they will focus their research on is yet to be determined); and
- Add Meta Solutions’ program EntryScape for translation on translatewiki.net, and document the steps and how it went. This case study will hopefully identify bottle necks and make it easier for others to add their programs. MetaSolutions will also develop the necessary code to make it possible for similar programs to be added to translatewiki.net.
We will also organize several translation sprints where we can jointly translate as many messages as possible (you can also participate remotely). Last year we organized a translation sprint and discovered real value in sitting together. It made the work more enjoyable and it made it easier to arrive at the appropriate translations for the trickier messages. If you would like to be involved in the Swedish translations, please get in contact with us!