FOSS and Localization: Translate.org.za and Bisharat.net
- Dear Folks,An interesting article on FOSS and localization...check out the following urls:FYI, an article from Tectonic on Dwayne Bailey's comments at the SangoNet
conference about FOSS and localization...
PanAfrican Localisation Project
Projet panafricain sur la localisation
Changing the world, one word at a time
By Richard Frank
10 March, 2006
Head of Translate.org.za, Dwayne Bailey, called on civil society to help
localise software, and push proprietary firms to do likewise, at the Sangonet
"ICTs for Civil Society" conference in Johannesburg this week.
Translate.org.za recently completed translating OpenOffice.org 2.0 into South
Africa's eleven official languages ? a major achievement that Bailey believes
is prompting proprietary firms like Microsoft to look more closely at the needs
of non-English speakers. "I do believe that helped stimulate the proprietary
industry to start localising their software," he says.
Localisation is not only about translation. "It embraces things like making sure
software in South Africa uses date formats that are not silly? like American
ones," says Bailey. It can also include special currency formats and calendars.
(Ethiopians, for instance, use the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian
After hearing Microsoft national technology officer, Potlaki Maine, tell
delegates that Redmond was training teachers in Africa, Bailey responded: "I
pray that they will train teachers to use a tool and not a product."
"When you write a document in a word processor, is it about the word-processing
software or is it about actually writing a document that you can share?" he
Although still involved in localising software, Translate.org.za is focusing on
creating tools that help the open source community translate other programs.
Pootle is a web-based translation tool that enables communities to work together
to translate an application. Bailey has used it at "translate-athons", where a
number of translators rally to achieve a common goal. "We translated a
web-browser in a weekend into Xhosa using this technique," he says.
Bailey also used Translate.org.za as a case study of how civil society can use
open source software to achieve their aims.
"So David triumphed over Goliath with a sling and a stone; without a sword in
his hand he struck down Goliath and killed him," says Bailey, quoting from the
"Goliath is not who you think it is. As NGOs we're often fighting formidable
things, but actually Translate is an example of a small NGO actually achieving
potentially massive change. And the reason why we've achieved that is through
open source software."