Using Drupal as a collaborative software translation tool

I've intended to announce this development at Drupalcon San Francisco but unfortunately the session on this was merged with a more general i18n session which was coupled by the ash cloud above Europe, so I could not go. Evidently, collaborative software translation is not a mainstream topic. On the other hand, I keep receiving requests of the general applicability of the tools Drupal.org uses about every two weeks, and this interest always amazes me. While the localization server tool used on localize.drupal.org grew out of needs of the Drupal community, the solutions were architected to be useful in a general purpose software translation environment. While the architecture was there, it was lacking useful UI controls to just run it as a generic software translation tool.

Existing non-Drupal users like the Gallery 2/3 project and the Musescore desktop app utilize custom data connector modules, which the localization server nicely supports, allowing for custom code to gather data for translation. Gallery even uses a custom Localization client port for clients to submit translations to the server, even though their software is not Drupal based. However, translating arbitrary software without writing your custom connector code was not possible earlier.

Presentation evolution

I remember how skeptical I was looking at some presenters traveling around to multiple conferences with "the same" presentation a decade or so ago. Having been a course instructor for years and being a presenter for even longer, it looks completely different now. It's not that the topics you cover under the same looking umbrella can be quite different, you also find much better ways to express whatever you want to tell your audience as you experience feedback.

Of course the best would be to present your story crystal clear from the start, but despite being an enthusiastic follower of Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte, you'll undoubtedly need lots of time anyway to take a relaxed look on your story and distill to the level needed to form a great presentation. I've actually found it quite hard to refine my slides without actually showing/presenting them to an audience. The faces, questions, smiles and sometimes plain staring expressions you get tell you how you'd done and you can derive ways of how can you improve.

Two interesting examples are my slides on Drupal 7 and localize.drupal.org.

Localize.drupal.org to come to life, so what about packaging?

Finally, the promise of a centralized localization interface for Drupal modules and themes looks to be coming true. I've started work on this project around two years ago under Google Summer of Code sponsorship and was continuing maintenance and improvements ever since. While I was spreading the word on it, not many people signed up to help clean up some possible performance problems, so it did not make into Drupal.org yet.

However, earlier this year I've got reviews from some key people in the infrastructure team, especially Gerhard Killesreiter, who persuaded me that setting this up is more important then it not being perfect yet. Software is evolving matter anyway, and we should improve as we see the problems. So I've started to set up localize.drupal.org. While we work out some of the kinks like single sign-on with drupal.org (one of the promises of the drupal.org redesign which will be delivered here), I thought it would be a good idea to discuss the implications.

Tools for the D7CX movement and helping Drupal 7 and modules get translated

Moshe Weitzman recently started the D7CX movement to rally people to get Drupal 7 contributed modules upgraded and released on time for the Drupal 7 release. This would be a great boon to the Drupal 7 release, which shapes up to be a huge improvement over Drupal 6 already. He also suggests a contributed module release manager who can help with (among other things) ensuring that tools are available to help people upgrade.

Drupalcon DC - Multilingual Drupal panel slides

I've had the luck again to join Jose A. Reyero and present about the multilanguage features of Drupal and its contributions at Drupalcon DC last week. I've had a presentation on the topic at Drupalcon Szeged last August, and we had a session on the topic at Drupalcon Boston last March with Jose. So looking back it almost felt like we are going to repeat ourselves.

What made this time special however is that we have a huge amount of experience gathered from users of the modules and Drupal core itself, and we see our strengths, real use cases and problems better. Previous sessions covered the concepts, but this time we had the fantastic Roger Lopez join us as third panelist, who talked about the Drupal 6 based multilanguage platform used to host Britney Spears', Pink's and other Sony stars' sites already. There was a nice Drupal.org front page post on their solutions and contributions while we were in DC. It is well worth a read!

UN Flags photo by clearrants on Flickr

So the panel ended up with me talking about Drupal core and some broader issues, Jose talking about Drupal 7 plans and i18n features and Roger talking about solving some of the tasks they have faced on Drupal 6 with core, the well known contributed modules and some custom development. He also called for involvement in some of the unresolved issues in his presentation. Finally we took some great questions and wrapped up.

I believe this was our best Drupal multilanguage talk so far, but unfortunately it was not videotaped. So all we can share with you are our slides in presentation order. Enjoy!