Setting up a new locale… Where to start?

Introduction

The ease of creating a new locale, i.e. a WordPress in a new language, is one of the main powers of WordPress. It’s great for the target group to have WordPress in their own local language. But it requires a group of people to do the work, needs time and lots of cold (or hot, depending on where you live) drinks.

Being a GTE, I want to highlight in this post some personal experiences, some decisions that need to be taken, the caveats and the possible ways of getting there.

Requesting the new locale

First step is of course to make a request to setup the environment of the locale. This part is clearly explained in the handbook, so start reading on https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/handbook/translating/requesting-a-new-locale/

If the request is accepted, you will become the first GTE (Global Translation Editor) of the newly created locale.

For the remainder of this post, let’s consider to have requested ‘anl‘ as ‘a new locale’.

Your team

Finding people is crucial, finding the correct ones even more, so choose wisely. Do not stick with IT guys, you need people that know about translation. If they have a good technical background, that’s great, but don’t forget the translation will be used by people at home that do not always understand tech-talk!

How to get in touch?

Email and one-to-one calls might be a start, but after a while you will need more. WordPress uses Slack as its main real-time communication platform, so a local Slack seems to be a great way to have quick meetings, discussions or stay in touch with each other. Slack is webbased, but also has apps for iOS and Android, so you can join the discussion from everywhere. A list of existing Slacks can be found on http://wp-info.org/slack/ . Creating a new Slack (free if you accept the limit of 10k messages) is easy and straightforward on https://slack.com/create .

Note: Use your @chat.wordpress.org address and as Slack admin, only allow those addresses to join. If you don’t have an address like that, check it out on https://make.wordpress.org/chat/

Your guidelines

Make sure everybody will translate in the same way. An important tool is the style guide for your locale where you can define things like : translation will be formal (or informal), typographic rules to follow, etc.

Examples of existing style guides can be found on  https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/handbook/tools/list-of-glossaries-per-locale/

Your glossary

Make sure to have consistency throughout your WordPress, plugins and themes translation. So a glossary is the way to keep consistency. If you want to have it centralized, use the one on translate.wordpress.org. Check the link of the glossary of other locales on https://make.wordpress.org/polyglots/handbook/tools/list-of-glossaries-per-locale/ and adapt the URL to point to your own glossary. Any GTE can create a new glossary or adapt words.

But before adding translations in the glossary, there will probably be discussion on the best word in the local language. Most of the current locales use a google doc for new words that need to be decided on. A (2-)weekly meeting to discuss them, decide and add to the glossary seems to be a great way to go.

Decide your translation roadmap

If you have your glossary and guidelines, it’s time to start translating. But where to start?

You will have to decide what you want to do first. Start with one or the other, but do both before moving on:

  • Translate the site (anl.wordpress.org) to attract more people, create the community (like links to existing meetup groups), etc. This is the Rosetta part under ‘Meta’ (https://translate.wordpress.org/locale/anl/default/meta)
  • Translate WordPress so people can download the localized version in their own language. Start with the most reason version and decide how far backwards you want to go in the versions: https://translate.wordpress.org/locale/anl/default/wp

Then you choose the order of the translation the remaining parts:

  • The remaining Meta parts (like the Forums, the theme and plugin directories, etc.)
  • The most used plugins and themes
  • The apps for Android and iOS

Note: Start from zero? If you have created a locale that is very close to the language used in an existing locale, it could be useful to export and import existing translations and then go over every string and modify where needed. It saves a lot of time, but as a courtesy, don’t forget to mention it somewhere in some credits 😉

OK, all set!

Congrats, you should be up and running now!

Now build you translators and give PTE (Project Translation Editor) rights to people that you trust can deal with translations of specific plugins/themes.

Have regular (online) meetings to discuss things and, as GTE, be available to answer questions.