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translate-transifexMore so than any other language, English can lay claim to being truly international. More people speak Mandarin, but most of them are ethnic Chinese concentrated in mainland China and Taiwan. The created language Esperanto is supposed to be international, but it is spoken only by a few million, as opposed to more than a billion English speakers. It is an official language in approximately 1/3 of the world’s nations, as well as that of the European Union. It is the only language used by international air traffic control (a regulation by ICAO). And English words form the basis for most of the more common and popular programming languages. We at Digital Peak are not Englishmen, but we speak, read and write in English (albeit not perfectly all the time).

This being the case, it is not surprising that the early Internet and World Wide Web started out as being predominantly English-based as well. As English is also the international language of the sciences and other academic studies, and as the Internet started becoming popular amongst universities, one can see why this is the case. Today, much of the Internet and the Web remains heavily biased towards English. For instance, Digital Peak’s CMS of choice, Joomla!, supports multiple languages, but the official website is solely in English.

However, that is changing, and has been changing over the past decade. An internationalized software package has access to a greater marketplace, and provides its users with more seamless experiences and wider options. Many factors have come together to drive the internationalization and localisation of software in all the various human languages; the seamless support for Unicode amongst the primary OS players and font developers, the rapid improvement of machine translation, and most of all, crowdsourcing. Joomla itself relies heavily on crowdsourcing for its non-English language support.

Traditionally, translating anything, much less something as complex as software, has been a difficult, expensive and time-consuming process. In addition to the high costs and cultural, sometimes political ramifications that may impact normal translation, software poses its own unique problems as well, since many US-centric third-party developers often assume English language strings and operate on such assumptions. Raymond Chen has highlighted some delightful anecdotes about how the Windows team comes across such issues in his book, The Old New Thing (also the name of his blog).

Today, though, through the power of crowdsourcing, translation of software into different languages no longer has to be expensive or time-consuming (although it may still be a bit challenging). We at Digital Peak use a cloud solution called Transifex. Free for open source projects (they also have paid plans for seriously large projects), Transifex offers an impressive array of features and facilities in order to ensure that translations of all the language strings in our projects are timely, and as we update our Joomla extensions, we can have all the documentation associated with them translated in near real-time.

You, too, can be a part of the Digital Peak translation team on Transifex! Just sign up and apply to be a contributor. We can be found here on Transifex, so come on by and help out. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to make our great extensions even more awesome. The full documentation how to help translate can be found here. We always update the translation files before we ship a new release. Means, you contribution will be shipped very quickly.

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