Pontoon – introduction

One of the three core types of content I described in my previous blog post is what I call rich content.

This type of localizable content has certain characteristics that are very different from the common UI entities. Starting from different goal (to provide information), through different size (long sentences, paragraphs), different l10n flexibility (needs ability to reorder, extend, shrink long texts) to much richer syntax (sentences can be styled with HTML, CSS).

Almost a year ago I started playing around some type of a web tool that would allow for WYSIWYG style localization for the web, later picked up by Ozten in his blog post about potential use cases, and finally landed on Fred Wenzel’s mind as he decided to give this idea a try. He ignited the project, and created first iteration of the UI, where I joined him, and added server side.

Now, the idea itself is neither new nor shocking. Many projects were experimenting with some forms of live localization for web content but the solutions we know so far are hardly adaptable for generic purposes. Some require a lot of prerequisites, others are gettext only, and they come as black-box solution which requires you to follow all the procedures and lock your process in.

Pontoon is different in the sense that it is a toolset that allows for rich content localization with grading amount of prerequisites and varying strictness of output. It’s a very alpha mode tool, so be kind, but I think it’s ready to get the first round of feedback :)

Pontoon – components

Pontoon is composed of three elements:

  • client – pontoon client is an application that allows for content navigation and localization. It’s responsible for analyzing content and providing ways for the user to translate it.
  • server – pontoon server is an application that the client communicates with in order to send/update translations provided by the localizer and store them later for the website to use.
  • hook – pontoon hook is a small library that can be hooked into a target application in order to provide additional information for the client to improve its abilities.

There are various clients possible, for now we have two – HTML website as a client, and Jetpack 0.8.1 based one. They share a lot of code and they operate quite similarly.

We have one server – django based one – that can receive translations provided by the client, and uses Silme to store them into a file (currently .po), and we have one hook – for PHP – that adds special meta headers and provides simple API for modified gettext calls that gives client direct information on where the entities are located, so that the client does not have to guess.

I’ll dig into details in a separate post, there’s much more into how Pontoon can operate and what are the possible enhancements for each of the three components, but for now, I’d like to present you a short video of Pontoon used to localize two old versions of our website projects.

The video is a coffee-long, so feel free to grab one and schedule 6 minutes :)

urls used in the video:

notes:

  • the locale codes that are supported by the server are usually ab_CD, not ab – for example de_DE, fr_FR etc.
  • pontoon does not support multiple users at the same time, so you may observe strange results when many people will try it at the same time. Enjoy alpha mode!
  • “0.1 alpha” means – I’m looking for feedback, comments, ideas and contributions :)

4 thoughts on “Pontoon – introduction”

  1. Nice app. Just a quick bug, I tested with Test Pilot website, and when you choose from sidebar one of the menu items (Home, case studies, etc.), cursor goes before the a of the link, and if you begin to translate, lose the link behavior.

    I look forward to use this tool, looks promising

  2. Insanely cool! I have been wanting something like that Jetpack translation client for ages!
    Are you going to work together with the team working on web video subtitles translation?

    You can expect me to translate a bunch of stuff to Swedish! :)

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