Awesome L10n community: Urdu

This is the first in a series to spotlight the efforts and practices of awesome mozilla L10n communities and contributors alike.
Date founded: March 2011
Number of members: 4
Team owner: Huda Sarfraz
Active projects: Firefox (Urdu)
Noteworthy milestones: The previous team that I (Huda) was working with actually completed the Urdu localization for SeaMonkey but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to continue past version 1.1.19.

How did the community get started?

This goes back to the SeaMonkey localization I was working on. I was part of a team at the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing (, the team has since then regrouped at the Center for Language Engineering, that localized SeaMonkey so it could be used in the rural area public schools of Pakistan. During the project life-cycle (during which we deployed labs with localized open source software and trained students and teachers to use them) we kept contributing Urdu XPIs for up to version 1.1.19.After that, Dwayne Bailey offered to provide support for an Urdu localization of the Firefox project on Pootle ( in March 2011. He helped us migrate the work we’d done from SeaMonkey and from there we started with Firefox.

What are some unique language & cultural challenges your community faces?

I can give a couple of language-specific examples.Urdu, as a language, is different from most languages because of its bi-directional nature (or right-to-left, it is referred to by both terms as the text is written from the right to the left, but left-to-right text can be used within the core text, for example, numbers, which are written from the left to the right). When I was working with SeaMonkey earlier, we had to use an extension developed by the Hebrew community to get the Back and Forwardbuttons to point the correct way. Currently, I think both SeaMonkey and Firefox support bi-directionality without requiring any extensions, but I think this is an important issue to highlight as I have come across other internationalized software applications which do not support it.Another issue we face (which may be unique to the language) is the representation of access and control keys. In Urdu script, underlining letters to indicate access/control keys looks very awkward, as underlining is not a natural feature of the script. For SeaMonkey, we skipped key assignments. For Firefox, at the moment I have started assigning the keys, as I am not sure what the solution is (even from a language perspective) and at the moment I want to focus on getting the translations done. But this is something that I continue thinking about, as I see it whenever I test a language pack.

How do you find new contributors for your community?

Mostly by getting in contact with Urdu localization communities online, for example, the team that works on Urdu Ubuntu. I’ve also been in touch with people who’ve worked on previous versions of Firefox and have integrated their work into the current project wherever it’s been applicable. A couple of people have gotten in touch with me themselves, I guess after I added my information to the Urdu locale page. Also, Dwayne and his team have helped out a couple of times by getting potential collaborators in contact with us.

If there was one thing your community would point to as the community’s greatest achievement, what would that be?

I don’t know if this is an achievement yet, but I am trying to get everyone who’s been working in this direction to collaborate. So far, most Urdu localization has been the work of individuals, and it has probably led to a lot of duplication of work.

If you had one piece of advice for new L10n communities, what would it be?

To keep working consistently, even if you are getting small amounts of work done. It will all eventually add up.
Great advice! Thank you Huda! Looking forward to seeing more awesomeness from the Urdu community.

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