[OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Translations and i18n: What is needed?

Kallinen Pasi Pasi.Kallinen at pttk.fi
Fri May 17 08:28:40 EDT 2013

TL;DR: EG not ready for use in non-English languages.

The current state of i18n in Evergreen is more than a bit spotty.
The OPAC is almost completely translatable, but the staff client part
has lots of room for improvement.  I don't know how others can make it
work for them, but for us over here in Finland, Evergreen in it's
current state is very close to being unusable.

Below are some things I think need to be fixed, with references to
Launchpad bugs where appropriate.

Untranslatable texts.  Currently there are lots of interface and other
texts that simply cannot be translated - perhaps they aren't marked for
translation in the first place[1], or the toolchain that picks up
the strings from the source code into the po-files fails[2], or
there's clearly a bug that prevents the text from being translated[3].
Having part of the UI in English and part in the user's language
is horrible, and definitely not professional.

Short translatable strings need context[4].  For example, the string
"for" is impossible to translate for at least two reasons: Firstly
there's no context at all, and secondly the target language may not have
prepositions.  All strings should be more-or-less complete sentences,
with possible placeholders[5].  I haven't yet looked if there are some
strings shared between different parts of EG that could possibly translate
differently, but full sentences should minimize the problems on that front.
Also, sentences should never be constructed in code - the target language
may use totally different word order from English.

Lots of the strings contain HTML and other markup symbols[6].  Most
translators don't know how to code, and are confused by all these - those
should be removed from the strings.  This also applies to XUL-interface
keyboard shortcut markers. (Which should ideally be more easily
configurable anyway)

Some wishlist items need to be done. For example the currency symbol is
defined in the translation files, which makes the symbol change when
changing the language used[7], and the currency formatting accepts only
the US-type separator characters[8].

It would also be nice if it was possible to send emails in patron's
preferred language[9] - this is important for countries with more
than one official language.

I don't know enough of right-to-left scripts, but I'd guess EG is not
quite ready (at least layout-wise) for those, considering how many problems
some more mature projects (such as MediaWiki) had with those.

My verdict?  All of the above - and some more that I didn't list here -
together make Evergreen not suitable for use outside of North America.

[1] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1157485
      "Allow translating more of the xul-interfaces"
      "Clark Kent speaks only English"
      "Cannot translate some tab names in staff client portal"

[2] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1158218
      "Improve db-seed-i18n.py to actually grab all strings for translation"
      "Build process doesn't get all translatable strings from templates"

[3] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1100262
      "Report editor uses translated string internally and crashes"
      "TPAC swaps between translated strings in search filter lists"

[4] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1178557
      "Short translatable strings need context"

[5] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1108680
      "Closed Dates Editor has untranslatable strings" - my fix
      adds placeholders for lang.dtd and friends.

[6] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1098189
      "Clean up translatable strings in templates"

[7] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1156545
      "Currency symbol and format should not be in po-file translatable texts"

[8] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1171338
      "No i18n settings for currency formatting (Patron bills, etc)"

[9] https://bugs.launchpad.net/evergreen/+bug/1091588
      "Send out emails in patron's preferred language"

Ystävällisin terveisin

Pasi Kallinen

p. 0400-139747
pasi.kallinen at pttk.fi
Länsikatu 15
80110  Joensuu

Pohjois-Karjalan Tietotekniikkakeskus Oy - www.pttk.fi

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