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Sugar framework
Python framework
Localizing an XO
Keyboards
Changing language
Translators
Getting started
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Localization ("l10n") is the process of taking software or content and adapting it for local use. It involves fonts, script layout, input methods, speech synthesis, musical instrumentation, collating order, number & date formats, dictionaries, and spellcheckers.

We need translators in many languages, including local scripts and dialects. At the moment, the laptop is 100% English, 68% Spanish, 53% French, 48% Portuguese, 40% Japanese and 30% German. All the other languages are 5% done at best. Translating is fun, quite easy and the rewards are great: here's how you can get started.

Contents

Getting started

You don't need to be a geek or hacker to help translate. To start with, there are user interfaces: Sugar and other XO Activities.

If you're a bit more technical: before a program can be translated it needs to be prepared by doing Python internationalization (for sugar or activities).

Read Wikipedia's definition and Ethnologue's language list

In addition to reading this page, you can join the localization mailing list and find us on the #olpc-content IRC channel and the Library mailing list.

Finally, for script experts, there are keyboards and guides for customizing your own keyboard language if it is not already there. (NB: on recent developer (Joyride) builds you can use the sugar-control-panel to set language).

Internationalization (i18n)

To help others localize bundles and code efficiently, they need to be prepared so that anything which might need localization (strings, images, sounds) is separated out and organized for translators and localizers. This is internationalization (or i18n).

There are specific scripts and tools that help represent and compose the languages spoken, taught or used in various countries: these are internationalization tools.


Translation and pootle

Sugar and core activities

UPDATE: The Pootle server is ready and live! Project & language coordinators are needed

The basic procedure to translate activities is to enter the Pootle server and work in the available projects — currently:

  • XO-Core — activities or components that are central to XO
  • XO-Bundled — activities that are currently being bundled or included in the builds
  • Packaging — other material that needs to be localized
  • Terminology — support translation glossary

Translators basically have two ways to participate:

Other, more committed roles are possible, including the ability to make off-line translations with whatever tools you are used to, but that needs to be coordinated with the people in charge.

If you are not already subscribed to localization@lists.laptop.org we encourage you to do so.

See also:

  • For more detailed information on the functionality of the translation server and its usage, see Pootle.
  • For a list of the language teams / administrators see Pootle#Sign-up.

Keyboarding in your language

What good is seeing the interface in a particular language if your keyboard is in another? See Customizing NAND images#Keyboard on how to configure the keyboard.

Basic Localization Topics

Character Sets

Unicode is fully supported in “modern” applications and toolkits used in free software. Legacy character set support also present, but modern applications use Unicode.

Collation order (the text sorting order) is generally well supported in the C library.

See also: Category:Fonts, Unicode.

Script Layout

OLPC uses the Pango library, which is able to layout most of the “hard” languages, including: Arabic, the Indic languages, Hebrew, Persian, Thai, etc. It has a modular pluggable layout engine and supports vertical text, as well as supporting bi-directional layout. Overall, some issues remain – but overall Pango can handle most scripts already; if it cannot, modules can be built to handle new scripts as documented in Pango's reference manual.

See also: Category:Languages (international)

Fonts

To share content and preserve cultural heritage OLPC's goal must be and is full coverage of all the world's languages. By using the Fontconfig system Linux has a better concept of language coverage of fonts than other systems. Fontconfig is used to configure the font system and determine what set of fonts are needed to cover a set of languages.

The formats of fonts supported on Linux include OpenType, TrueType and many others: see Freetype for details. Most of the font formats supported by Freetype are obsolete, and by far the best results on the screen will be had from OpenType and TrueType format fonts, particularly if they are hinted well. Type 1 fonts are useful primarily for printing; the renderer for Type1 fonts in Freetype we have today is not very good, and Type 1 does not support programmatic hinting for low resolution screens.

The OLPC XO-1 has a high resolution screen. High resolution helps OLPC considerably, particularly in grayscale mode at 200DPI. Wikipedia as usual, is a starting point for free fonts. "Font foundries" are companies who will contract to produce fonts.

See also: Category:Fonts, Fonts, HIG-The Sugar Interface/Text and Fonts

Free Fonts

Free fonts are available for most scripts in the world, though some fonts are licensed incorrectly for completely free redistribution.

Need for Screen Fonts

Applications and content should be usable on other screens everywhere, not just on OLPC's high resolution screen. Therefore the OLPC community needs to work together on extending the coverage of high quality screen fonts. The "DejaVu" font family (derived from Bitstream Vera) covers most Latin alphabets and some other languages. This family has in general good "hinting" for screen use. The Red Hat "Liberation" family recently became available to help substitute for the Microsoft family of fonts, but does not yet have very wide coverage.

SIL International also builds fonts for a number of additional languages of local interest.

Helping with these or other efforts to build fonts or to increase coverage of existing fonts is greatly appreciated. Pooling efforts on hinting glyphs, which is boring but important work, and/or donations and buyouts are also being investigated.

Keyboards

OLPC Keyboard layouts document OLPC's currently available keyboard layouts: further layouts are a modest amount of work if there are existing designs for those languages. People with local expertise will need to work with OLPC staff to generate new layouts.

See also: Category:Keyboard, HIG-Input Systems-Keyboard

Input Methods

An input method is software that allows typing of scripts with many more characters than keyboard keys. Examples include languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Free software systems now are using SCIM - Smart Common Input Method Platform. SCIM is replacing older input method systems.

Knowing what languages are taught as “foreign” languages, as well as are native in an area is needed to design keyboards that are most useful in each country. For example, the Nigerian keyboard is designed to allow easy entry of English, Hausa, and Yoruba, which are common languages in much of Nigeria. The "US/International" covers most of the western European languages.

Some issues remain in our base technology. For example: Arabic ligatures could present problems: by avoiding putting them on the keyboard we avoided the need for an input method. However, such workarounds may not be feasible for your language.

See also: Input methods, HIG-Input Systems

Accessibility and Usability

Speech Synthesis

Speech synthesis has a set of complex tradoffs of synthesizer size versus fidelity versus effort to localize a new language. See Speech synthesis.

See also Category:Accessibility

Music and Sound Samples

We want much more than dead white male western instruments for dead white male composers!

Clean samples of your musical instruments and music needed!

Samples need appropriate licensing terms.

See also TamTam: Sounds

Dictionaries and Spellcheckers

There is existing support for most major languages.

Spelling, Hyphenation, Thesaurus dictionaries may be needed for different parts of Linux, which may or may not apply to OLPC directly; for example you can check:

Of these, the first three are most immediately interesting to OLPC: we use versions of these codebases as part of the Sugar environment.

Character Recognition

Stroke/character recognizer localization is of some interest with the pen/tablet: in the future (Gen 2) when we have a touch screen they will become essential. xstroke is one such individual character/stroke recognizer, sufficient for alphabets of up to about 100 characters.

Considerations

Current Shortcomings

There are some real shortcomings where help is needed. These include:

  • Non-Gregorian calendars
  • Non-Latin digits (Roozbeh Pournader has patches, but these are not yet integrated and may need help).
  • and the sheer scale of the localization problem will eventually require changes in free software projects.

Localization Techniques

It only takes a small team to localize Linux for a language: e.g. Welsh, Icelandic, which are relatively small languages, have been pretty fully localized by small teams.

You can do the work yourself, hire the work out, or find volunteers among universities (worldwide), the world wide internet and free software community. Add to existing projects whenever possible. By checking with some of the major free software projects (e.g. Gnome, OpenOffice, Mozilla, KDE), you can often locate people already at work in your language.

Work directly in the software and content projects whenever possible. This makes your work available worldwide, while lessens the ongoing work. If you keep your localization work local, others cannot benefit from your work and effort and your software and content will be that much harder to localize.

Tools

Some example tools include pootle, kbabel and rosetta. Most software uses the GNU “gettext” libraries and standard .po files, including Sugar; Firefox and OpenOffice have their own systems for historical reasons. Wordforge is a good place to get plugged into tools and the community efforts.

The cldr project is worth watching, though OpenOffice is the first major project using this.

Remember, contribute your translations to the “upstream” projects to minimize long term effort: share your work with the world. Do not presume that if one Linux distribution has your effort that you are finished; some Linux distributions are not good about working with the community that builds and distributes the original software.

Licensing

Translated strings will often be useful among many projects, not just the the project you are working on translating, therefore, since the MIT/BSD (3 clause) licenses are usable by all projects, these are the safest licenses to use for translation to enable widest sharing.

The SIL OFL license recommended for Fonts. An often overlooked issue with fonts is that they are incorporated into documents themselves (for example, into PDF documents) and that therefore licensing needs to be considered carefully.

See also Software licensing

Next Steps

Localization is by nature local: but languages often crosses borders. Please contact Jim Gettys to identify issues.

We need to identify people/organizations responsible for language, translation, keyboards, and speech synthesis, as well as effective free software community leaders to help with local deployment and "on the ground" knowledge.

Sugar Localization

Sugar and Sugar applications use standard .po files, and can be localized using the usual tools. Sugar_18n goes into the details of the localization process.

General Linux Localization

By looking at the gnome, mozilla, OpenOffice, KDE projects, you can get plugged into translating other Linux software of general interest.

Localization of Python

See Python i18n for details and a step-by-step example.

Current l10n projects

library exchange

activities

Add / include links to upstream localization where appropriate.

  • camera — en | es | ko | pt | zh-CN
  • web?
  • read?
  • write?
  • blockparty?

games

See also

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