Tag Archives: Localization

2009 would be the Year of …

Og Maciel writes about the possibility of 2009 being the Year of Translations. With the coming-out of awesome tools like Transifex, Damned Lies, Vertimus etc, it sure feels good to be even marginally involved in the process of translations.

Infrastructural pieces coming together ensure that a translation workflow that appeals to all, is easy for the end-user can be put in place with much ease. And, it would also mean a disruptive playing field for startups like Indifex. Making wide open spaces for innovation in translation workflow and infrastructure is an area that is bound to be welcomed by the folks who spend countless hours making applications, desktops and operating systems available in their local languages/locales. They don’t get appreciated often. They get recognized during release times in release notes and the like, but they do keep the engines running and the lights on. This is going to be their year.

I would venture so far as to state that in a trend of “2009 would be the Year of <insert_your_favorite_prediction>” it would be a Year of Content. Free and Open content un-encumbered by restrictive rights and legalese that would be re-distributable, would be informative, would be educational and would be able to bring about a change. Over a period of the last 24 months, methods and tools that enable content creation on Linux desktops have simplified. Especially when it comes to Indian languages. So, there are fonts available (some of them quite elegant), there are keyboard layouts, on-screen keyboards (like Indic OnScreen Keyboard or iok and even Quillpad), input methods, word-lists and like bits that form the user-experience completion when using a Linux desktop to compose content. In sort, the traditional problems in the fields of input-display-printing have been substantially addressed to bring the end-user experience at a level of where it should be easy to just plug-and-create.

There is a wealth of content in Indian languages, starting right from folk-tales that are part of the oral tradition to commercially generated content which needs to start moving into the UTF-8 encoding space. Projects like the OLPC can benefit from the availability of such forms. Work on Indic OCR remains to move forward at a much aggressive pace than what is currently, but there are signs of good things coming out of it. Digitizing data would also enable a lot of content to be archived and made available for consumption.

This is the year that should see a large part of such things happening. The marriage of content creators with the infrastructure developers is something that needs to happen as well. And, this needs to include folks from fields of comparative literature, media studies and the like. Anyone who really does generate content, should be met with and talked to regarding the need to exert themselves to become part of the process. Content already takes in a large chunk of investment outlay for the mobile players and with the availability of easy means of generating content, it would not be far to start thinking about a need to consolidate, find patterns, predict trends.

The convergence of the computing and application prowess of mobile devices, content creation workflows and upswing in the production of Indic language content for the webspace promises to make 2009 an interesting year of innovations.

Season’s Greetings to all.

bn_IN moves out of beta for Firefox

Just read off Seth’s blog that for Firefox 3.0.5, bn_IN has moved out of beta. Thanks to Runa for making that happen. The mandatory download link

Incidentally, the same post from Seth provides pointers to what would be required to be done to move a locale out from beta. That’s a good list to have handy and a page that requires to be bookmarked.

It only gets funnier…

I had mentioned Baishakhi Linux in passing in an earlier post. So, today a few of us received an interesting mail from Prof Anupam Basu of IIT-Kharagpur. The original mail is here for ready reference as it is at here. And I have a few points to make which are below. I will abbreviate Prof Anupam Basu as PAB and my responses as SM.

However, at the outset, let me state that it seems that the team working on the project can do well to buy copies of Karl Fogel’s excellent work Producing Open Source Software.

PAB: The release was on the 8th of September and it was planned to make the source code
available upstream, within a few days as is expected of open-source activities.
Please keep your weather eyes open on the SNLTR site.

SM: I recall asking twice about this and, this is the first time we hear about plans
to make source code available upstream. However, it isn't upstream source code that I'd be
interested in. I'd be interested in having access to the source of the distribution itself.

PAB: Mr. Toshi Kubota (mail cc'd to him) is a pioneer in Open-Source and Linux related
movements in Japan. We will ensure that all gpl requirements are adhered to in accordance
with his guidance. Please note that the inauguration was only day before yesterday !!!!

SM: This is what is generally called a straw-man argument. If you note, at no point have
any aspersions been cast on the level of expertise, or, competence of Mr Toshi Kubota.
Instead, what has been asked is a simple question - why have the translator credits been
mangled in the headers (that have been obtained from the .mo files) ? For instance, I don't
recall Promathesh Mondal following any of these steps.

PAB: I know ( because Indranil Dasgupta himself told me on the first day we were discussing
and demonstrating a prelim version of Baishakhi Linux) that the existing Linux versions,
printout of complex Bengali scripts through Firefox was not possible - thanks to Indranil -
this problem is not there in Baishakhi Linux.

SM: If you could point to a suitable sample of such complex scripts I'd be more than glad to
test it out on Fedora9 or rawhide -> Fedora10. As on date, I am yet to see on the Firefox
bugzilla a bug from your team that provides specimen cases that drive home the point that the
complex script rendering is an issue on Linux.

PAB: The contributions may be incremental, (as suggested by Sayamindu - a one line code), but
that is there now. Baishakhi Linux need not make tall claims, it was a very low budget effort
and the spirit should be to contribute more by pointing out bugs and improving on it.

SM: I read two things from this: [i] the distribution does include the one line code that
Sayamindu points out ie. it isn't materially new and [ii] none of the fixes that Baishakhi
claims to be 'features' have the patches attached to the already existing bugs in upstream
bugzilla(s).

PAB: I am pained because my invitations to some of the Open-Source groups to join hands in
these activities was met with absolute silence.

SM: 'Let us be objective first' (quoting you) - who are these 'some of the Open-Source groups' ?
And, when you invited them, did you point out the mode to join and contribute ?

In short Prof Anupam Basu, we met around a year plus back at the ‘Bangla in e-Governance’ meeting and even then I had taken time to ask you to work with our group to push all the work you do into upstream. Not surprisingly, it hasn’t happened. I don’t expect it to happen as well – but your mail was something of a surprise. More so, since you chose to include Sayamindu’s mother in cc: – what were you thinking ? 🙂

Sayamindu has a response as well.