Open Source Translations?

Well, it was a busy week for conference calls. The latest was on an initiative to start an Eclipse project to take care of the translations for the Eclipse project. I went into it being mistaken that the initiative was simply trying to spread the translation work around for Europa so that IBM didn’t have to do it all. It’s a pretty expensive endeavour to translate all of Europa to 23 languages. But the intention is indeed to be more than that.

Now, for the CDT, translations haven’t been a priority. We haven’t released language packs for the CDT since the 2.x days. We still get a healthy 20% of our downloads to China and I haven’t received feedback that they miss them. But I imagine we’d grow even more internationally if we had them.

Despite my original skepticism, I think a translations project is a great idea. Technically, making the translations isn’t very complicated so you don’t need to be a hard core developer to help with them. And, apparently there are some tools that have been made to help make it even easier. It would be cool for the users of Eclipse around the world to help out with this and would probably result in better quality as they actually use Eclipse.

My skepticism right now comes from the current focus on getting the Eclipse member companies to contribute rather than on building a community. I think if you focus too much on short term goals, like translating Europa, you won’t solve much when the next release comes around. Hopefully, this project will find an inspired leader that break new ground in international community building. It certainly won’t be an easy task. But it could be another great step forward for Eclipse.