Translation Teams: A Request for Help

steveking steveking at
Sat Jun 25 14:42:01 CDT 2005

C. Michael Pilato wrote:
> Dear Translation Teams Actually Getting Stuff Done,
> I am in dire need of some insight into how it is that you actually *do* 
> get stuff done.  What makes your Subversion book translation actually 
> work?  How are the teams built?  How do they coordinate?  How should we 
> deal with lone rangers who email saying they'd like to start a 
> translation into some language?  Are you tracking the latest changes to 
> the English book, or are you working against some older tag of that book 
> (you /are /doing one or the other, right?).
> I think recent list traffic is a clear indication that there's *got* to 
> be an easier way to get new translation teams on board, to keep 
> translations from growing stale, etc.  I'm open to any and all 
> suggestions that don't involve my running through downtown Chicago in my 
> underpants.

Even though I'd really like a picture of you running downtown Chicago in 
your underpants :-) I think I can at least try to suggest something 
which doesn't require that:

As I understand it, the translations are done by
- making a copy of the english docbook files
- replace the english texts with the translated texts
- build the book, check it
- carefully watch the commits, then *manually* merge the changes to the 
english docs back to the translated ones

We used the same procedure for the TSVN docs before, but it was a real 
pain (the manual merging stuff). But then we found another solution, 
which I thought might interest you too.

The Gnome and KDE projects use a tool called xml2po to create gettext po 
files from the docbook xml sourcefiles. While the kde tool is a compiled 
binary which doesn't work on windows, the Gnome one is a python script 
which also works on windows (a requirement for TSVN's docs).
Now with that tool, the translation process is much easier (and 
translators are more motivated to keep up with the changes). The steps 
now are:

- change the english docs
- run the xml2po script to generate a pot file
- translators start with the pot file and create a language.po file from it
- they translate all the strings in the po file
- changes to the english docs can now be automatically merged using the 
gettext tools from the pot file back into the translated po file.
- the docs get generated every day automatically from the po files the 
translators either commit directly or send by mail (which we then commit 
- the translators don't have to set up the whole build system for the 
docs - they just wait for the daily builds and check the translations online

Please note that this is only a suggestion, I'm not translating the 
Subversion book so it's really not my place to do more than suggest.

So if you're interested in using those tools too, here are some links:

The Gnome xml2po python scripts:

Howto translate docbook documents:

TortoiseSVN's windows bat scripts to generate the pot file and create 
the translated docbook files from the po files:


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