November 15, 2008

String freeze in effect for Thunderbird 3 beta1 release

As of midnight Pacific time yesterday (roughly six and a half hours ago) we're in string freeze for the Thunderbird 3 beta1 release.

This means that any l10n strings in the mail/ and editor/ui/ directories in the comm-central repository are now frozen. Since Firefox is also in string freeze for it 3.1 beta2 release right now the strings in browser/, dom/, netwerk/, security/manager/ and toolkit/ are frozen as well. So we don't need to worry about any breakage that might come from that front.

The code freeze for our beta 1 will be on Tuesday 18th November at 23:59 Pacific time. We'll cut the release sometime after that once we've had some baking. So this means basically that your locales should be ready by that date. I'll open up a opt-in thread for you guys as soon as the code freeze is in effect.

We will be having a test day for beta 1 soon, that will be covering the new features and checking for any significant regressions. More details coming soon.

Please check the dashboard for up-to-date information on the state of your locale. We also have l10n nightly builds available at the regular location.

November 12, 2008

Making life easier for new localizers

When you look at recent posts in the Mozilla l10n space, sooner or later you'll find out that a lot of localizations only exist for Firefox, but not for the comm-central application Thunderbird, Sunbird or SeaMonkey. If you look at the numbers, you'll see that Firefox 3.1 currently has 65 localizations compared to 48 localizations for Thunderbird 3.0, 36 localizations for Sunbird 1.0 and 18 localizations for SeaMonkey 2.0.

This is not totally surprising, since Firefox has many more users and much more buzz than all three other applications combined. And even for locales that support more than just Firefox, Firefox is the natural leader in terms of localizer attention and status, because of its market share and popularity. This is nothing to complain about since people generally are more likely to work on something that makes a big difference and localizing Firefox into e.g. Vietnamese makes a much bigger difference than localizing Sunbird into Vietnamese instead.

For us in the Thunderbird/Sunbird/SeaMonkey communities this means that we need to adjust to this fact. To be more precise we need to make the actual localization for people as easy as possible, because when push comes to shove our apps will always come in second, third or fourth.

Most of us obviously can't help a new localizer with the basic translation parts, since in most cases we don't speak the language, but what can be done is to make all the other aspects of localizing a Mozilla application as easy and as less burdensome as possible. This means
  1. reducing the bureaucracy around the l10n processes
  2. providing better tools for localizers
  3. communicating clearly and effectively with localizers
  4. making sure, that localizers can concentrate on what they are good at, the actual translation/localization part
On the first item, I think we are doing pretty well, since we do not require nearly as many approvals, reviews, etc. from localizers as Firefox does. I hope we can continue to keep our processes lean as we grow our communities and get more more localizations.

The second item is very well covered by the growing l10n team at Mozilla Corporation. Especially Pike and Gandalf are currently doing great stuff in the tools space, that will make life easier for many localizers.

The third item is hard for me to comment on, since I'm doing the l10n communication for Thunderbird and Sunbird and it is hard to judge yourself. I haven't heard any complaints yet, but maybe I just missed it. I certainly hope that people will give me constructive feedback if I screw up.

On the last item, we made a few huge steps lately. For two weeks various people (including me) have done a script-based analysis of our codebase in search of unused strings. Unused strings are bad for new localizers, because you need time to translate them, which could be put to better use. We recently fixed three bugs or are in process of fixing them, which removed (or will remove) a total of 670 strings (219 for Thunderbird, 127 for Thunderbird and SeaMonkey, 324 for SeaMonkey. This is a lot of stuff (for Thunderbird roughly 1/8 of all localizable strings) that a new localizer will no longer have to wade through.

November 6, 2008

[Reminder] Thunderbird 3 beta1 string freeze in eight days (2008-11-14)

I want to remind everyone, that we're the string freeze for the Thunderbird 3 beta1 release is approaching fast. We will freeze our strings for the beta1 release on Friday, November 14.

For those of you, who do not try to keep up with our string changes on a daily basis, now is a good time to take a look at all the string changes that have happened lately.

The l10n dashboard should give you a good indication on which areas of your locale need the most work. Documentation of the dashboard is available.

What many of you will notice right away is, that we've worked hard on removing unused/obsolete strings in the last weeks. Removing all those strings from your localization is something that can already be done before the string freeze as we are not planning on bringing those strings back. I know that this cleanup work means additional work for you, but hopefully it will make things easier for new localizers signing up to work on Thunderbird l10n.

In our last pre-release (alpha3) we managed to release with 28 locales. I hope that we can increase this number in this pre-release to 30 or maybe even 35.

I really hope that you will surprise me :)

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask here, in the l10n newsgroup or in #l10n on IRC.

November 4, 2008

Updated l10n documentation for Thunderbird - please give feedback

In the past few days, I have actively worked on adding content to and updating the existing content of the Thunderbird l10n documentation page.

I added/updated
  1. a pointer to and an explanation of the l10n dashboard (as already mentioned yesterday)
  2. a pointer to this blog
  3. a pointer to an up-to-date release schedule, which includes the string freeze schedule
  4. a description of the responsibilities of developers during a string freeze and when breaking the string freeze
  5. a first draft of a locale tier structure (based on the Firefox l10n tier structure)
  6. the link to the TB source code in comm-central
I would really appreciate some feedback on this page from the l10n community. What information do you need, that this page or the links provided on that page does not currently offer?

Right now, I know of two areas, which still need work or content:
  • the link to the devmo documentation at the top on how to localize Thunderbird links to outdated content (the old cvs world)
  • the page still lacks content for the localization of web content, that will be created for the final Thunderbird 3 release
If you have any suggestions, please post them here or directly work on the wiki. That's what it is for :)

November 3, 2008

Updates to the l10n dashboard

A few weeks after we had initially set up an l10n dashboard for Thunderbird, Calendar and SeaMonkey localization, Axel Hecht (Pike) managed to import the Thunderbird, Calendar and SeaMonkey trees into the main l10n dashboard as well.

We have let these two dashboards run in parallel for the last few weeks, but in the end, it didn't make any sense to have two dashboards for the same thing. We have therefore retired the Mozilla Messaging l10n dashboard and redirected all calls to it to the l10n dashboard. Please use the dashboard exclusively from now on.

To make you more familiar with the various options, that the dashboard provides, I've written up a short guide to its various functions on the wiki. I'd appreciate feedback on this guide.