Hello Planet GNOME

As a new poster on Planet GNOME I suppose presentations are in order: my main contributions to GNOME are to try to grow the Asian community and I do this by taking part in the GNOME.Asia Summit organization since its inception in 2008 in Beijing. Last year I actually even gave some talks at the Vietnamese chapter in Ho Chi Minh. Together with my friend Emily Chen we also started a GNOME User Group in Beijing after the first Summit end of 2008 and we do a lot of advocacy to get young Chinese students to take over some Gnome projects.

We’re actually in the middle of the call for host for the 2010 edition and you can find my post about the topic right here. So if anyone in Asia is interested to take up the challenge and be the lead organizer of a great Open Source technical conference showcasing GNOME technologies this is the chance. Note that the whole GNOME.Asia Summit committee will be behind you and we’re now strong of two successful years experience. So please do help spread the word.

I am also part of the localization team of a few GNOME projects especially the educational ones like GComrpis and Rur-ple. I spent a lot of time building a total FOSS solution for schools that included the OS with different educational apps for teaching and learning, tutorials for teachers, training and textbook for students. Of course we use a lot of GNOME and GNOME apps in the solution.

And when not doing GNOME things, I actually also happen to be the President of the (famous!) Beijing LUG (should you be in town please do contact me), on the board of Software Freedom International and very much involved with women in technology and students open source groups.

I hope that by now you have a better idea of who I am and should you have any idea on how to strengthen the Asian GNOME community please do get in touch. Also feel free to browse my previous post to get a better idea of the other things I’m involved with.

Basic rules for FOSS Localization

I have been spending some time reviewing a few FOSS educational software translations over the last months. Localization is a commitment if you want to do a good job; badly localized software leads to poor experience (people simply won’t use the software) and gives the wrong message that FOSS applications are just bad software. So if you thought localization was just pure translation, then you need to think again! Hopefully my experience will help more people to start a localization effort well prepared and be proud of the work they did.

Cultural adaptation and knowing who that software was written for are paramount in the process. I’ve put up a few rules together hoping it will help newcomers, if I missed anything please feel free to add yours in the comment section!

  1. Know your audience (the people using the software) and pick words that they can easily understand
  2. Have some knowledge in software terminology (if not, web search is your buddy)
  3. Be familiar with the software (try it out before translating it and don’t hesitate to use that software when you are doing the translation)
  4. Be more than fluent in the target language and good enough in the original language (not the other way round)
  5. Don’t be afraid to change the meaning in order to fit cultural differences (e.g. for Rur-ple, we picked a meaningful Chinese robot name rather than doing a phonetic conversion: names must have meaning in Chinese for people and more specifically children to remember)
  6. Use the same terms across the whole software (either by proof reading or with the help of localization tools like Poedit and OmegaT)
  7. Have someone good enough in both languages to review your work and hopefully familiar with the software (he needs to use the software not just read the text)
  8. Fixes, typo corrections and improvements from the source language need to be fed back to the original project in order to help improve the overall quality of the software and all its translation
  9. Keep track of changes and reasons behind so that can be useful for other languages
  10. Have the passion and the time to commit to do a good work 🙂