Tag Archives: Transifex

In the company of a ninja

It looks like watching the Ninja Assassin hasn’t done Shreyank any good. Else, he would have figured out that it is easy-peasy for a Founder and Chief Ninja like Dimitris Glezos (who is also known as DeltaGamma) to be at Bangalore and, elsewhere. Dimitris paid a surprise visit to Pune yesterday and it was fun. It isn’t always that you get a CEO of a startup provide you with an in-person repeat of his keynote with added wisecracks and side-talks that are too scandalous for a “keynote” :) And, that too, at a fairly crowded Barista. It was awesome.

In fact I wanted to talk with him about how massive the momentum built up by Transifex has been. Just two years ago, in 2007, Tx was a GSoC project within The Fedora Project aimed at looking at managing translations from a developer’s perspective. Today, it is a start-up which is hiring employees, relocating to newer offices, has a foot-print across a significant portion of upstream community projects and, most importantly, has clients willing to pay for customization services and, developer services. Tx isn’t only helping translation communities by allowing them to craft their work in peace – it is keeping developer sanity with the fire-n-forget model of the architecture. I hear that PulseAudio, PackageKit developers are strong supporters of Tx. That is tremendous news. The provocative nature of Tx is also based on the charm that it has been bootstrapped. That should provide hope to developers thinking along the “product” route.

I would say that these two years have done Dimitris good. His focus on the road Tx should take has become more vivid and, he has a deeper insight into the changes he wants to bring about via Indifex. There’s nothing more exciting than keeping a close watch on his team and his company for news that would come up soon. Tx is coming up with a killer set of features in the upcoming releases. That should get the attention of a couple of clients too.

Throughout the afternoon we ended up talking about getting youngsters up to speed to think beyond patches as contributions and, starting tuning their thoughts to products. Dimitris opines that patches are excellent jump-off points but in order to become a valuable contributor, one must start thinking about “architecture”, “design”, “roadmap”, “milestones” and all such issues that form part of the theory classes but never see implementation in real-life scenarios. In addition, there is also the need to inculcate the “CC thinking” in everyday work of creativity – be it code or, content or even be it hardware and standards (the “CC thinking” is a fancy short-hand towards thinking about Open Standards, Open Protocols and so forth. In a somewhat twitter-ish way, we compressed it to a meta-statement we both could relate to and agree with).

Dinner and post-dinner with a couple of us was another story. Having a bunch of hard-core “Fedora” folks in the room creates a passion. Sitting back to savor the flames of discussions and, interjecting with a leading viewpoint to keep the debate flowing is the best way to get action items resolved. Nothing wasn’t touched upon – from the way to get best out of *SCos to mundane stuff like getting feature requests into Tx, OLPC and Sugar, or, talking about the general issues within the IT development community in Greece. And of course, the frequent checks on Wikipedia to validate various points in the argument. We could have done with an offline Wiki Reader yesterday :)

I think I finally went to sleep at something around 0200 today – which is impossibly past my standard time. There are photos aplenty, though I don’t know who will be uploading them. There was food, there was coffee, cakes, and, there were friends – in short, a nice day.

Pleasant experiences and project loyalty

As a general case, my experience with most of the FOSS projects whose products I consume or, contribute to, have been very pleasant. Feedback has generally been well received, requests listened to. So, what I am going to write is not very special. But, they are striking by themselves.

Sometime ago, I was shopping for an off-line translation tool. I was fed up with Lokalize’s issues and, the fact that it wasn’t letting me do what I wanted to do at that point in time – translate. Additionally, I wasn’t in the mood to actually install a translation content management system to do stuff. Face it, I am an individual translator and, calling in the heavy shots to get the job done was a bit silly. So, I turned to virtaal. Actually, I think I was goaded into giving it a try by Runa.

Virtaal was, at that point in time, not really a good tool ;) And, you can figure from the blog link above that I wasn’t interested in it too much. However, since I ended up giving it a chance (you cannot simply ignore a recommendation from her) I ended up running into two issues. One was predominantly more annoying than the other and, in effect was what was putting me off the tool. However, the developers took interest to get it fixed and, in the latest release have resolved it.

The other bug was resolved in an even more interesting way – over IRC with hand-holding to obtain the appropriate debug information and, then on to editing the file to put in the fix. At the end, the fix might be trivial. But the level of interest and care taken by the team to listen to their users is what makes me happy. In this aspect, the other development crew I can mention is Transifex. I haven’t met most of them and yet they keep taking suggestions, reports via every communication channel they are on – blogs, micro-blogs, IMs, IRC and trac. That makes them visible, gets them into the shoes of the users and, I am sure it earns them invaluable karma points.

Yesterday, while helping (I just did the file editing while Walter did all the brain muscling) to close the other bug, I felt incredibly happy to be part of a system where it isn’t important who you are or, where you are from. What is important that you have a real desire to develop better software and, make useful artifacts for all.

As it goes – “Your mother was right, it is better to sharelink to video.

The post is brought to you by lekhonee v0.8

Looking forward to some improvements

I have been using Transifex based systems for a couple of days/weeks now. And, in line with what I did mention on my micro-blog, Transifex and Lotte make things really easy. The coolest devel crew makes that happen. And, since they lurk online and engage with their users, every little tweak or, improvement that is suggested and considered makes the consumers feel part of the good work they are doing. Good karma and awesome excitement all around.

At some point in time during the week, I’d put them in the tickets as feature enhancements. However, for the time being, here’s a couple:

  • Lotte should allow me to click on a file that is not yet translated for my language and, add it to the collection. If I recall correctly, the current way to add it is to download the .pot, convert to the appropriate .po and, upload it with comments etc
  • Lotte needs to allow “Copy from Source”. This should accelerate translation by removing the extra step of having to actually select, copy and paste. This comes in handy when translating strings within tags or, brands/trademarks and so forth
  • Handling and using translation memory could be built into Lotte. For a particular file in a specific language within a project, it could perhaps provide suggestions of translated words. In the future, allowing teams to add their glossaries would make it a more powerful tool too. Having said that, I’ve always wondered what happens when team glossaries are created from files across various projects – is there a license compatibility soup problem that could crop up ?
  • A Transifex installation could provide notifications of new files or, updated files for the language. This could be limited to the files for which the last translator is the person receiving the notices or, ideally, could be for the language itself.
  • Statistics – providing each language a visual representation of commits over time or, per contributor commits would also be a nice addition

So much for Transifex, in fact, I need to write out all of that in a nicer way so as to allow the possibility of these turning into GSoC projects within Transifex.

Coming to Virtaal. With lokalize being unbearably useless for me (it adds garbled text or whitespaces into files when using the stock F11 supplied one) and, before it is commented, no I haven’t filed a bug yet, getting the files done was a bit more important at that specific point. So, mea culpa. But I do check with every yum update and, it is still the same. The specific issue with Virtaal is that each time one gets a new string loaded for translation, the text input area loses the input method details. Which means that it is a constant game of switch back and forth between the inputs. Sadly enough, this is the only software that currently works for me (I don’t want to set up a local pootle/transifex instance and, do web based translation)

A bunch of stuff

  • Recently, I had the chance to use Lotte to translate and, it simply blows me away. The Transifex crew deserve some well earned applause for including elements that make it incredibly helpful for those involved in the work of translations. There is a slight annoyance which has now been turned into a ticket.
  • Read off Planet Sugar that “several weeks ago”, activities.sugarlabs.org has exceeded 1 million downloads of activities. That’s just too awesome not to talk more about. As is mentioned in this tweet, imagine an activity developer who sees a steady increase in download and consumption going up to 20000 downloads. That’s just so amazingly sweet.
  • The thread here looks to be an interesting one with regards to securing professional translations and, getting an open source project translated via community building. Should be good to see how it pans out.
  • From the time I micro-blogged this, the thread has gone ahead and had more discussions. And, reading it early in the morning, it does appear to be a good thing to have. Those who are coming on to a Desktop Spin from other OS should have an easier way to adapt to and adopt the desktop. Good stuff.
  • In other news, here’s a picture from our diwali celebrations this year

Diyas from this year

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.