Mozilla L10n – Discussion Notes

During the recently held Language Summit at Pune, we got an opportunity to discuss about a long standing issue related the localization process. Several discussions over various media have been constantly happening since the past couple of years and yet a clarity on the dynamics were sorely missed. A few months back a generic bug was also filed, which helped collate the points of these dispersed discussion.

Last week, we had Arky from Mozilla with us who helped us get an insight on how things currently stand in the Mozilla Localization front. Old hats like me who have been working on the localization of Mozilla products since a long time (for instance, I had started sometime around Firefox 1.x), had been initiated and trained to use the elaborate method of translation submissions using file comparision in the version control system. During each Firefox release, besides the core component there are also ancilliary components like web-parts that need to be translated on other Version control systems or through bugs. Thankfully there is now the shipping dashboard that lists some of these bits at one url.

However, recently there have been quite a few announcements from various quarters about Mozilla products being made available for translation through several hosts/tools – verbatim, narro, locamotion, even on transifex. Translators could gather files and submit translations via these tools, yet none of them deprecated the earlier method of direct submission into the servers through the Version Control Systems. The matter was much compounded with also a spate of translations coming in from new translators who were being familiarized with translation work at various local camps as part of Mozilla’s community outreach programs.

During the above mentioned session, we sought to find some clarity on this matter and also to understand the future plans that are being undertaken to reconcile the situation. Firstly, we created a list of all the tools and translation processes that are presently active.


1. Direct Submission into Mercurial or SVN

2. – Aka ‘Verbatim‘ is essentially a version of pootle running on a server hosted by Mozilla. Used to translate web-parts, snippets, SUMO content etc.

3. – Hosted by the group, and runs an advanced version of pootle. Used to translate Firefox, main.lang etc.

4. Narro – The Narro tool that allows translations of Firefox, components of Thunderbird, Gaia etc

5. Pontoon Project – To localize web content. More details from the developers here.

6. Transifex – Primarily gaia project

7. Babelzilla – Mozilla Plug-ins

There could be more beyond the above.

The reason that was given for the existence of all these tools is to allow translators to choose a tool that they were ‘comfortable with‘. This however gives rise to quite a few complications involving syncing between these tools which evidently provide duplicate platforms for some of the projects and also about maintaining a trace of translations by the translation coordinators. Especially when the direct submission into VCS is still pretty much an open option for translators (coordinators) who may have not be aware of a parallel translation group working on the same project on another translation platform.

A new project called ELMO is aimed at rectifying this situation. This would host the top-level URI of the Mozilla Localization project, with direct links to each Language’s home page. The home page intends to list the Translation team details and urls for the projects. However, there is one big difference that seemed apparent: Unlike other Translation Projects which provide one umbrella translation team, each of the Mozilla products can have different Translation Teams and Coordinators, independent of each other. It may be a scaleable solution for manpower management, but leaves a big chance of product continuity going off-sync in terminology and translation. However, it may be a good idea to wait and see how Elmo fixes the situation.

Meanwhile there were a few action items that were fixed during the discussion (Thanks Arky!), these were:

1. A page on the mozilla wiki listing *all* the translation tools/hosts that are active and the projects that they host

2. Follow up on the discussion bug for “Process Modification”

3. A request to have automatic merging of strings modified in source content into the l10n modules in Mercurial (i.e. the strings identified via compare-locale). For instance, the comparision between the bn-IN and en-US module for the Aurora branch can be found here (cron output).

4. Explore the possibility to identify a consolidated Project calendar for all the Mozilla l10n projects. (Reference comment here)

As Arky mentioned during the discussion, there were plans that were already underway to implemention and I am quite excited to wait and see how things go. Some blogs or updates from the Mozilla L10n administration team would be really helpful and I hope those come in quick and fast.


Amir Aharoni
Sayak Sarkar
Ankit Gadgil
Ani Peter
Sweta Kothari
Jaswinder Singh
Rajesh Ranjan
Shankar Prasad
Nilamdyuti Goswami
Shantha Kumar
Manoj Giri
Krishnababu Krothrapalli
…(Please leave a comment if I missed your name)

2 thoughts on “Mozilla L10n – Discussion Notes

  1. Pingback: Translation Sprint for Gaia « Through Myopic Eyes

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