Mozilla i18n status

Some info about current state of Mozilla i18n:

I finally got r+sr for my last patch for Thunderbird source l10n. It means that Mozilla has three products that can be easily translated and released automatically. It’s Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and XulRunner. I made some work on this stuff in last months and I hope that this will make our l10n release process easier in the future for both, localizers and MoFo release staff.

Kudos goes to Benjamin Smedberg for his work on new chrome manifests and bug 287262. Benjamin is also working on XUL Developer Kit and he mentioned that he’d like to have some l10n tool there. MLP has such tool on it’s TODO list.

Axel Hecht is working on some Eclipse IDE for XulRunner called Solid which sounds extremely cool.

I’m a Gecko evangelist for more than 2 years now, I had a lot of talks, I’m answering questions, writing some articles about Gecko technologies, I’m writing samples, extensions and I spent quite a lot of time on popularizing Gecko technologies in Poland and some other countries of eastern Europe. The two main blockers are lack of tools like the two mentioned above and lack of documentation.

The second blocker is also near to be fixed since Deb Richardson is leading project which is going to be a greatest source of information about Gecko technologies and modern web standards like JavaScript, and W3C stuff. I’m also glad to announce that we’re working on Polish version of DevMo! Temporarily it’s available on Splatch’s server but we’ll move to official server next week.

Pawell made a great work on clearing l10n teams state. We have some problems with MLP work because our people are focused on some temporary yet very important stuff, so we neither did update MLP page yet nor we have clean l10n teams list. Pawell listed l10n teams for Firefox 1.0, Firefox 1.1 and overall Localization Teams.

The real problem that has to be solved is that with source l10n we’re moving from multiple l10n teams per country (one for Tb, one for Fx, one for Suite) to one big team per country. In the future we will have also Sunbird and Suite in l10n CVS sharing the same l10n bits from ./dom ./toolkit and others. This process will take some time, but we should finish this transition before Toolkit 1.8 cycle.

There is also an idea of Community Pack from Mozilla Europe/Mozilla World. It would be a pack of tools (mostly web tools) that are offered for every l10n team to make it’s work easier. It would contain some news system, webpage, disk space on our servers, some bugzilla, forums, wiki, blogs, mail, spreadfirefox-like site, and other tools that can be used by l10n team in their work. Of course it would be optional to use it, so no l10n team will be forced to use our tools 🙂

Such Community Pack would be mostly helpful for small l10n teams that suffer from lack of money, people and tools in their work.

I believe that we should move our model from centralized to more decentralized giving more power to l10n teams. There is no way for Mozilla Foundation to penetrate local market in the way l10n team can do this. Without understanding this our products like Firefox or Thunderbird will be well known and widely used, but Gecko platform will be a minor one on the market. l10n teams should be digging three areas. Localizing, promoting and deploying Mozilla technologies in their countries. Localizing is the main goal, but the other two are more problematic since they require a bit of professionalism, knowledge and power to do this. We have to avoid situations when amateur made webpage, advert or unprofessional interview makes a bad promotion to Mozilla products.

There is no way we can avoid that journalists will be asking for comment people from local teams rather than asking Mozilla Europe or Mozilla Foundation.

So I believe that Mozilla Europe should have power to block any locale team from doing some stupid, unprofessional things while it should allow trusted locale team to do more stuff as official affiliates of Mozilla Foundation. Such Community Pack will solve the problem of bad web pages because we will give a ready to use theme which fits Mozilla Foundation webpage, but there is still a lot of things that must be made to be sure that l10n teams can promote Mozilla.

I’d love to see three things. First one is a new version of Mozilla Licensing document. Current Mozilla policy is very unfriendly for any promotion work outside Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla Europe, for example, should be able to choose and allow l10n teams in Europe to use Mozilla trademarks. So for example when MoEu publishes a book, it should be able to use Firefox logo on it, right? When German l10n Team has some great plan for a marketing campaign, it should be easy to talk about it with MoEu and do this officially.

If Polish l10n team is a big, well known and trusted one, it should be possible for MoEu to give us some more official power like ability to give interviews as MoEu affiliate or some other name so we’re not anonymous group contributing some project for fun which sounds bad for press, but to have a relation with MoEu or MoFo to be able to do and talk in the name of Mozilla in Poland.

Of course this requires a lot of trust from MoEu and it’s a l10n team problem to make MoEu trust you – but it should be possible.

The second thing I’d love to see is some set of rules for l10n teams. Bigger teams should help smaller ones avoid making simple mistakes, should share experience in areas like man structures, using tools like Bugzilla to coordinate localization, gathering community via forums and wiki, handling press contacts, promoting Mozilla and other issues that every locale team will face earlier or later.

Last one is some document describing communication and relations between MoEu and l10n teams. What l10n team can do by it’s own, when it have to ask MoEu for acceptance etc.

It’s a long road. It seems to me that until now Mozilla Foundation has no idea about how to work with local communities and how to use their power to promote its technologies in countries. MoFo is extremely centralized, it drifts to a model where every single decision is made inside MoFo central,no matter if it’s minor or major one. I believe that this model is bad and harmful. MoFo is not able to have an idea what’s going on in Poland, Czech republic, Russia, Brazil or Spain on the level local community knows. MoFo has also a lot of work and, from my experience, every project that has to be accepted by MoFo is very delayed or blocked.

I hope to see more decentralization, more power to control l10n teams moved to Mozilla Europe and other affiliates. Those affiliates should have a strong control over locale teams, like being able to choose locale team head, and other important decisions. Having this, locale team should get more power to work on local market. Maybe some every month meetings with reports from locale owners so MoEu knows what’s going on inside?

We have very devoted communities in every country! But we don’t use it’s power. Some locale teams are just to small to gather community and use it’s motivation to do some work, others are great, but still can’t do much more than localizing products.

I hope that this Community Pack is a first sign of a process that must come to life if Mozilla is pretending to be platform used all around the world.

Remember, that only 5% of people use English as a first language, with probably 50% of human population that is not able to speak or read English!

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