Thursday, April 30, 2009

i18n as second citizen in KDE

Sadly it seems that i18n (short for internationalization), that is, making your program available for non english speakers is a second citizen between KDE developers.

Programmers are treating bugs reported against i18n as non critical when effectively they are making their program unavailable for lots of users.

You may think this is a personal perception, but let's mention some examples:
* Plasma: Category names ("Application Launchers", "Astronomy") in the drop down box of the "Add Widget" dialog are untranslatable. Plasma developers excuse themselves saying i18n is not their best aptitude
* Places names are set after first use and don't follow the user locale https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=177536
* KMail view names have a similar problem, can't find the bug number right now
* Places names for devices are not translatable http://lists.kde.org/?t=123937583500004&r=1&w=2
* Amarok: Items in the playlist layout editor are not translated https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=189750
* Amarok: Default layout names are not translatable https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=189751

These are just some examples, don't feel finger pointed if your app is here.

You'll notice that some of this bugs/reports have patches or suggestions on how to fix it, yet nothing has been done to fix them.

So please, don't treat i18n as second citizen, you *really* don't want to alienate so much users from your program.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well. Kubuntu has proven that even if you break translations horribly for years, you can still be successful.

Anonymous said...

"Well. Kubuntu has proven that even if you break translations horribly for years, you can still be successful."

Successful among who? How many german speaking people are using Kubuntu?

I wouldn't call Kubuntu successfull

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with you.

Bad or missing translations make the system look unprofessional. Being embarrassed because of bad translations when showing your desktop to other people isn't a good feeling :(

Why is this so difficult? Just *never* -- and I mean *never* ever write any text in your code without making it translatable. Only exception should be code comments :)

Aaron J. Seigo said...

let me share something with you about influencing people: if you would like to see change, try discussing it with them instead of sniping them behind their back as your first move.

so let me set the record straight:

"Plasma: Category names ("Application Launchers", "Astronomy") in the drop down box of the "Add Widget" dialog are untranslatable. Plasma developers excuse themselves saying i18n is not their best aptitude"

i happen to use an english language desktop environment. i don't get to see what isn't translated; i actually sort of rely on others to notice these things and bring them to my attention.

so when someone did that, just today, i noted that that was why i haven't noticed it. then i asked if those .desktop entries are being translated (again, i don't know: i don't translate!) and he said they weren't.

my suggestion was that we could move to Keywords= instead of X-KDE-PluginInfo-Category= because Keywords= is apparently translated.

that was exactly (to the minute, oddly enough) 7 hours ago.

SEVEN HOURS.

and for that we get sniped on your blog on planet.kde.org. for ONE set of entries in a combobox in ONE dialog.

let's recap that one again in slow-mo:

* i'm not aware of an i18n problem
* we're asked why they aren't translated
* i say "i wasn't aware they weren't being translated"
* we figure out a possible solution
* seven hours later i read your blog

wtf?

Aaron J. Seigo said...

oh, and i might add that this is a problem that exists in KPluginInfo, which makes the Category field completely unusable for user visible text, not something we intentionally did or did not do in Plasma.

*sigh*

Albert Astals Cid said...

@aaron: let me share something with you about influencing people: Once you've discussed with them and they have done nothing you've not much option left than what you would call *trolling*

Also it's quite amusing you don't reached the part where i said "These are just some examples, don't feel finger pointed if your app is here." and you had to explicitely do a blog on your own accusing me of premature protestation

I'm sincerely wondered by the fact that ANY critic you get on plasma gets the critic person on your shooting radar

And then you go on and accuse me of just complaining before proposing fixes, when almost all the bugs i posted contain either patches or comments on how to fix the situation

Anonymous said...

I'm posting here because I don't have/want a blogger account, but i am commenting on Aaron's post in response to this entry:

Aaron, your posting feels a bit like “do as I say and not as I do.” You are asking someone to not lash out harshly by... well... lashing out harshly. As a third party observer who is not privy to the background of the issue, Albert's post seemed like anything but an attack on Plasma and your work. Instead it seemed to me like a fairly balanced rally cry to highlight the importance of translations. Yes, it could have been worded better, but then again so could your posting. In fact, I can tell you that Albert's post has already had a good effect because since reading that posting I have put more effort into translations for my own application, so at least a little good has come from it.

Anonymous said...

...

While I certainly understand that you might have felt slighted, there is no need for the kind of personal attack that you included in your comments on Albert's blog and here on this one. Just as you suggest that you would be happy to send a “re-written version of your blog entry that says exactly the same thing without the damaging nature of your approach” we could all do very much the same thing for this blog post. You can get your point across much better without needing to single someone out. I know that you mean well, and I believe that you are neither malevolent nor destructive, but I think if you stand back from the issue for just a few moments that you will see that you are being hypocritical in this posting.

That being said, thanks for all the great work on KDE and Plasma... my desktop would not be so pleasant without your great work. Just try not to react so harshly to criticism, especially when it it is not really directed at you.

Jeff D said...

I think it's pretty well understood that, if not a majority (i'm not sure), at LEAST a very large percentage of KDE devs don't reside in an english-is-the-primary-language country. Many prominent devs are in Germany, France, Norway and Poland.

OSS, in general, is VERY receptive to i18n needs-- much more so than proprietary software. So, in short, I just don't believe you. You sound like you have a little pet bug, and are now developing a chip on your shoulder.