Axel Hecht Mozilla in Your Language

February 21, 2007

l20n talk slides up

Filed under: L10n,Mozilla — Axel Hecht @ 7:59 am

I’ll be presenting on l20n at FOSDEM this weekend. The slides are mostly done, and to the extent that slides without the presenter are any useful in general, are up for everyone to see. Note, that link may not stay there.

I posted to several open-source i18n/l10n lists last night, and got some feedback triggering a new example, declensions and special cases.

1 Comment

  1. […] Why I’m eager for L20n Mozilla 2 is to be started soon, and as you might have read, there are thoughts of creating a new localization infrastructure for that future generation of Mozilla software. Currently this is named L20n, driven by MoCo’s L10n lead Axel Hecht, and though it’s in a draft stage, I can’t await to use this technology. When Axel talked about L20n at FOSDEM, I was hoping people would tell us how they love it – unfortunately time for the talk was over before he could get to the interesting part – examples. Discussions there in Brussels were pretty interesting though, as I can’t remember objections to the need of this or the general approach, only some criticism of the lol file format semantics. Oh, yes, it looks like localizing will be much fun in the future, having L10n info in ".lol" (Localizable Object List) files I actually think that the proposed syntax of those file is good, as it feel familiar to most developers but is different enough from other languages to realize you’re not in JS, XML but in a lol file. The good thing is that L20n is a format that is growing out of knowledge about problems in current L10n approaches, both of the Mozilla approach(es) and the gettext/PO approach. People who have worked with both on a developer and localizer side know they all have their problems. While Mozilla lacks language fallbacks and plural handling, gettext/PO lacks good VCS compatibility and needs long original strings in the source code, while both lack flexible support for declension and other grammatical specialities. L20n is an effort to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of those, and esp. from the problem of their users, to create an L10n toolkit that satisfies developers, localizers and users the same – also across programming language boundaries. Axel has contacted other L10n communities than the Mozilla one to get feedback and, from what I heard, has received positive feedback and wishes for collaboration. As an active SeaMonkey localizer, I heard about this new approach soon, bing in the Mozilla L10n newsgroup, I was more or less there when it was born (or the ideas for it were gathered) and actively took part in those discussions. I’m more eager to works with L20n from a developer’s perspective than from a localizer’s perspective though: While "my" language (German) doesn’t differ from English that much that I regularly run into the big problem of current approaches, L20n could simplify the code I write as a developer a lot: Let’s take this "simple" snippet of PHP code and German .po file to print out a number of comments (simplified source of this blog): blog.php: if ($postCount < 1) { print(gettext(‘no comments’)); } elseif ($postCount == 1) { print(sprintf(gettext(‘%s comment’), $postCount)); } else { print(sprintf(gettext(‘%s comments’), $postCount)); } blog.po: msgid "no comments" msgstr "keine Kommentare" #, php-format msgid "%s comment" msgstr "%s Kommentar" #, php-format msgid "%s comments" msgstr "%s Kommentare" Now let’s look at how it might look (in principle, I could be using wrong function names here) with L20n: blog.php: print($l20n_context->getValue(‘comm_cnt’, array(‘num’=>$postCount))); <plural0: (n) -> {n == 0 ? 0 : (n == 1 ? 1 : 2 ) }> <comm_cnt[plural0(num)]: ["keine Kommentare", "${num}i Kommentar", "${num}i Kommentare"]> Note that I’m not sure that $postCount would be passed as an array like this, but it would probably be similar to that – and I hope I got the "plural0" macro right. There are multiple good things about that approach: First, the actual code is much shorter and easier to read (even more so if I don’t have short strings but long sentences there). Second, there is no "original string" in the source, just an ID ("comm_cnt"), it actually doesn’t matter which language I’m doing first, while writing the code, as L20n doesn’t care. Third, while writing the code, I could just define the string as <comm_cnt[num]: "${n}i Kommentare"> to make things simple, and I could refine it to better values later. Fourth, if some localizer comes along and tells me he need 5 different plural forms depending on the numbers, he can just do that in the lol file, I as a developer don’t need to know or care. Fifth, the localization file is shorter. Sixth, I as a developer am actually writing a first localization along with the code, which a localizer can use as an example for his work. And there are probably more. (And yes, I know, gettext probably knows plurals in some way, so those might be a bad example. It’s one if the easiest to grasp for a developer who doesn’t speak Finnish, Polish or other grammatically more complicated languages though.) It would be so nice to simplify code and get all those long strings out of the source (which often require horizontal scrolling here) – and that’s only speaking as a PHP dev doing two languages that don’t need declensions or other specialties. It must be even more compelling for a localizer of some language like that who can finally give his users a linguistically correct user experience. […]

    Pingback by Home of KaiRo: Why I'm eager for L20n — March 31, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

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