Arky, Delphine, Peiying, and I have just returned from spending a spectacular week at an event that is a first for the Mozilla Localization community: a gathering for Right-to-Left (RTL) localization communities! This was a very unique event, not only because it was the first hackathon dedicated to RTL issues, but it was also one of the few hackathons we’ve arranged outside of any of the RTL localization communities’ home countries. The Sinhala localization team hosted the event and were very welcome LTR participants within an otherwise RTL event.
A unique event
Never before have we been able to organize an event specifically for RTL. Being gathered together in Sri Lanka created a very unique opportunity to hear about RTL issues from a variety of perspectives. Additionally, being that half of the Persian l10n community is based in Iran, none of us had previously had the chance to meet and spend time with them. We were very fortunate to bring our Iranian Mozillian friends to this event and learn of their efforts to localize Firefox into their native language. Finally, we were pleased to organize the first meeting of the complete Urdu l10n community. I use the term “complete” because the Urdu l10n community is spread across India and Pakistan. They had made attempts to gather together in the past, but had been unsuccessful. Meeting in Sri Lanka gave us this opportunity and the full team was happy to be together for the first time.
RTL l10n communities at Mozilla
Firefox desktop is the only Mozilla product that has RTL support explicitly developed into it. Over the years, RTL support has been a desired feature in Mozilla’s mobile products, but our expertise and sustainable plans for it have not been able to culminate in fully supported RTL Fennec or Firefox OS products. Firefox OS has inched closer and closer to this reality and many within the Arabic and Urdu communities have dedicated time to testing RTL bugs and improving the support within that platform. We organized this hackathon for two reasons: 1) to include these locales in the list of teams we aimed to meet with in person during 2015; 2) to bring RTL localizers/users together in a room to triage bugs, learn how to test RTL issues, and establish a taskforce to be more involved in RTL across multiple Mozilla projects.
RTL hackathon activities
The agenda for this hackathon can be found in the Mozilla wiki. Within the wiki, you’ll find the agenda, as well as all of the etherpad notes that were taken during the event. These notes not only covered the morning discussions, but also provide an overview of the Arabic, Urdu, Persian, and Sinhala l10n community status as of October 2015. The agenda covered many of the same topics that (if you’ve been following along throughout the year) can also be found on the agendas of other hackathons. The key difference between this hackathon and others was how the free time in the afternoon was spent. Nearly all of the l10n teams participating in the hackathon were up-to-date on their product l10n projects for the 42 release. During their free time, they localized web parts content, initiated new l10n projects (e.g., the Persian team started localizing Firefox OS 2.5), and formed an RTL taskforce.
It has become obvious to the various RTL communities that the creation of an RTL task force is needed in order to drive the RTL effort onwards.Participants (mostly developers) from Arabic, Persian and Urdu teams have agreed that the RTL task force needs to be first and foremost a global task force – and that they can then address the possible RTL differences from one language to another as they come.
We have started to form a couple goals for this task force:
- Planning and working on creating a seamless RTL experience across Mozilla products
- Identify and study possible differences in RTL across languages
- Fixing bugs in Fennec: RTL tracker bug for RTL Fennec for Android — https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=702845
- Finding and filing bugs in Fennec
- Fixing bugs in Firefox OS current master- Meta bug: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1179459
- Finding and filing bugs in FirefoxOS (under FirefoxOS > Gaia:component)
In order to get everyone on the same page and start working actual dev work, we have agreed that an RTL hackathon should take place soon, in order to have presentations on best coding practices and then do some hands-on bug fixing. This will also be the opportunity to define and prioritize the RTL task force’s goals.
With the creation of this task force, our next action items are to create tools to support this community (irc channel, wiki pages, mailing list, etc). Please stay tuned for progress on this great initiative!
Our host country & community
The Sinhala localization team in Sri Lanka was an amazing host community. They helped to select our accommodations, introduced us to delicious Sri Lankan food, and even took us site seeing and shopping. They introduced us to their culture, their home, and even brought us out to witness a large, 4-hour long Buddhist parade through Colombo which included Asiatic elephants! Peiying even got to pet one 😉 We had a great time and look forward to the Sri Lanka community inviting us back.