Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A sense of perspective and the monthly statistics

I had the priviledge to be at the developer meeting in Berlin. I enjoyed it, it was a great meeting and many of the subjects that are dear to me moved forward. The best news was Open Street Maps, this will become part of Wikipedia. I am quite happy with the reception of the Wikiation Extension Testing Environment, this is a framework for installing and testing MediaWiki and its extensions.There is a sandbox environment available to MediaWiki developers, they just have to ask ...

I had several great conversations, one of them was with Trevor Parscal of the Usability project. One of the things we discussed was the MediaWiki localisation. I was happy with Trevor's appreciation of the work done at translatewiki.net. It is indeed quite amazing to submit code in the evening to find in the morning that you have to sync your code because of the work done overnight. When new code gets to translatewiki.net, Siebrand, Raymond or Nikerabbit have a look at it and work on the internationalisation and then make it available for localisation. Typically there are people ready for any new messages and it is indeed impressive to find something completely localised in a couple of languages the next day.

My perspective is different. For me translatewiki.net is 310 languages, only 58 languages have all the most used messages localised and when you look at the group statistics in time you find that our localisation only goes up slowly. I know the hard work that goes into getting ready for a new project and while I welcome improved usability and functionality it comes at a price.

The good news is the numbers are still improving and Brion is quite happy to consider options that will make localisations available sooner. The good news is that Nikerabbit may work on the Translate functionality in a GSOC project. The good news is in little things like the Babel extension being available in Gujarati.

With apprehension I am looking at the many messages that will be created as a result of the usability project.It is not that the Internationalisation will not be done, I fear that many languages will spend their time localising the new messages, messages that will be of necessity be volatile. I would prefer it when these new messages are done when the localisation is ready for the production messages.

What will happen is that we will leave things as they are; people can work on what they like. It will be interesting what the fall out will be. When the new usability is the hit that I hope it will be, it may mean that we gain more localisers and our statistics continue to slowly but surely improve and that my fears prove to be unfounded.
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