Webmaker Localization Beta

I've written previously about our goal and the work to localize all of Webmaker, the sites, tools, user content, metadata--all of it.  I set a deadline for the team of the end of August for an en-US localization, and we hit that.  We've been running and developing against a fully localized code-base for over a month now, and it's gone fairly smoothly.  Next I challenged them to get 2 additional, non-English localizations done by the end of September.  Today is September 30th, and I'm happy to announce that we've shipped a version of Webmaker that is 100% localized into English (en-US),  Русский (Russian - ru), and ภาษาไทย (Thai - th-TH).

It has been really encouraging watching people use Webmaker and focusing on localization at the same time during development.  We've seen users in more than 80 countries participate over the summer, and the opportunity to include even more people, by giving them tools and content in their own languages, has become obvious: on the very day we shipped the Russian locale, I woke up to this tweet about the first Maker Party in Russia.  Looking at the webmaker.org front page as I write this, with user makes from India, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, the UK, the Philippines, and Pakistan (among others!)--I'm excited about working on a global project.

We've long had members of our community, and users, offer to help us with translation.  Until today, we weren't ready.  Unless we could ship their work, and fold it into our development workflow, I didn't want people working on things that weren't going to end-up in production.  Turning "we should" into "we did," when it comes to proper localization, is a huge job, and one I've observed carefully in the Firefox context.

But today we're on our way, and it's thanks in no small part to the hard work and dedication of Seneca CDOT developers, Ali and Igor.  They not only worked on the code and infrastructure, but also did translation themselves.  They've created a project on Transifex for Webmaker, and we're ready for our community to help us add even more languages.  Already work is under way on Portuguese, Bengali, Chinese, Korean, Dutch, and Italian among others (including Pirate English).  We've been really impressed with Transifex as a community localization platform and tool, and hope many more contributors will join us there.

What we're announcing today is very much the first step on a long journey, and I've been careful to call this a "Beta" release.  Anyone who has worked on localization knows that it's not something you ever fully finish, and that each new translation brings with it a unique set of challenges.  We're already working on fixing UI/UX bugs exposed by our new locales (e.g., Russian strings are much wider than English, Thai much narrower).  We're also starting to work on support for Arabic and other right-to-left languages.

There is still a ton to do, and many ways you can get involved if you're at all interested.  As usual, I want to encourage you to stop by irc (#webmaker channel on irc.mozilla.org) or reach out to the Webmaker mailing list.  If you're using one of our localized versions, please tell us when you find bugs, or have suggestions about how we can improve them.  Finally, we'd like you to help us translate, and here's more info on how to do it.  We want to get this right, and are committed to getting there with your help.

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