Until recently, Mozilla’s L10n process had been a mystery to me. I first encountered localization when I worked on 1 Billion + You, and during that campaign I knew little about how localization was taking place from a technical perspective. The L10n team took care of all the details and the site was translated into over 30 languages.
Now that we’re redesigning the website for Student Reps, I’ve learned about the tools that are used to localize a site. If you’re interested in localization, this post will provide a good primer so you can understand the technical side of an L10n project.
Using gettext as the localization format
There are a few localization formats from which to choose. Based on the scale of the project and our familiarity with it, we chose to utilize the gettext format for our localizations. Gettext allows us to easily add new languages to our project, and it also works well with Verbatim, the web interface our translators use.
In the first step, we use gettext to generate language-specific files. Gettext will give us a .po file for each language we need. In fact, this process can be easily automated by running a script. Once we have the files in the target languages, we compile these .po files into .mo binaries that will be used on the live site.
Managing Translations with Verbatim
Verbatim is a web localization tool for Mozilla projects that allows translators to localize the site without editing text files (such as .po files for gettext). Localizers create an account, choose a project and language, and then start translating.
The web interface is very simple and makes it easy to view the status of a project or particular language. On the left side of their display, localizers see the string that needs to be translated. On the right side, localizers enter suggested translations for each string. Those translations are then reviewed for correctness by a reviewer for that locale. Once a string’s translation is approved, it is committed using svn and shows up on the staged site.
Beginning this week, we’ll offer official office hours for Student Reps. These dedicated chat hours will provide Student Reps with specified hours during which they can expect to connect with each other when they sign on to our #studentreps channel. Benefits to Student Reps choosing to utilize these hours include increased interaction via chat–which creates more opportunities to ask questions, learn from one another, and give and receive advice. Initially, Office Hours will be held:
If this is your first time using IRC for chatting, I suggest you connect using the applet posted on our Student Reps IRC page. If you’re a more advanced user, stop by the Mozilla IRC Network for information on connecting with a different client. Once you are connected to irc.mozilla.org, type /join #studentreps to enter the channel.
A few weeks ago we asked our Reps if they would be interested in having set times during the week when they knew they could chat with each other. Positive feedback rolled in! To further define the best way to work this, I created a short questionnaire. Sixty Reps responded. Here’s what they told us:
- Best days for Office Hours (in order of preference) were Saturday, Sunday, Friday and Wednesday
- Best time of day was evening, with an 88% interest level (28% liked afternoon, and 5% preferred morning)
- 85% want to both give and receive advice
- Most interest came from India (37 responses), followed by the US (7) and the Philippines (4)
To start, we’re choosing Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday because they were the most popular days, and they are nicely spaced to provide coverage throughout the week. I’ll be in the channel myself on Wednesdays, and I’ll try my best to be there on weekends as well.
As we learn what works best for everyone, the hours for each day may change slightly. Keep in mind that these are just official times when you can expect me to be online along with Reps and Regional Leaders. You’re always welcome to be in the channel anytime, 24/7.
As Mary Colvig mentioned yesterday, we recently surveyed our community marketing team. And that of course includes our Campus Reps (soon to be known as Student Reps).
Thanks to all 367 Reps who completed the survey. That’s an impressive response and represents about 20% of our active Reps. With that in mind, let’s look at the findings.
Who took it?
- 367 Reps
- 44 countries
- Mostly new contributors
Reps' Years of Contribution
How active are they?
- 78% promote Mozilla constantly
- 17% promote during news announcements or marketing campaigns
- 5% promote every once in a while or rarely
What are the Reps interested in doing?
Across the board, Reps have the same interest in activities that the whole community marketing team has. Reps showed slightly more interest in Public Relations, Hosting events, and Market research. Exact differences can be seen below.
Reps' Areas of Interest
Also, Reps selected 5.1 activities on average that interest them, compared to the 4.6 activities the whole team selected. This means that Reps are interested in participating in more types of activities.
What do Reps want to learn about?
We asked what types of workshops our team wants to see. Not surprisingly, workshops specific to Campus Reps were at the top of the list. Speaking/presenting and graphic/web design were also quite high with 57% and 56% of Reps interested in those workshops, respectively. Interest in the other workshops can be seen below.
Reps' Types of Workshops Wanted
So what does this mean?
- Reps are very active in promoting Mozilla, doing so either constantly or during announcements and campaigns.
- Student Reps have similar interests as the rest of the community marketing team. However, it’s important to note that Reps tend to be interested in more types of activities overall. Therefore, we should make sure that a variety of opportunities are available to them.
- Reps show slightly more interest in PR, hosting events, and market research relative to the whole community marketing team. We can use this insight to offer more opportunities to Reps in these areas.
- Workshops about Campus Reps, giving presentations, and graphic/web design are highly sought after by Reps. This finding can help us in planning future workshop topics.