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Re: Open letter to Debian community

* David Starner (dstarner98@aasaa.ofe.org) [010131 22:08]:
> On Wed, Jan 31, 2001 at 10:46:06AM -0600, The Doctor What wrote:
> > Would it be horrible to add a line to the control field that lists
> > what languages are supported by a package?  
> What do you meant "languages supported by a package"?

I should have said documentation for a package, see my letter to
Tomohiro KUBOTA for clarification of documentation vs. being able to
use the software with a multibyte character set.

> That ranges from
> usable with texts of the language (i.e. 8 bit clean for most Western
> languages) to a message catalog existing, to a complete and up to date
> message catalog existing, to full l10n (man pages, documentation and
> messages). Some people would just like to use their native language for
> the major UI elements, but don't care if error messages are English; others
> need everything in their language to be able to use it. 

Good point, degree of documentation could also be noted.  It would
be a policy issue to decide levels, but some ideas would be
something like (using Chinese as my example language):
zh      -- Full support, man, docs, message catalog
zh(ui)  -- A complete message catalog exists
zh(doc) -- Contains documentation in Chinese
zh(man) -- Manpages are in Chinese
zh(ui,man) -- Contains catalogs, and man pages, but the READMEs,
etc. aren't in Chinese.

Obviously, as was once suggested, if we break out message catalogs
as some form of subpackages then the (ui) tag is useless, you can
quickly tell by looking at the subpackages.

> Secondly, what's the win? Most language specific packages are so marked -
> ifaroese, doc-linux-zh, etc. IMO, there aren't enough of them to worry about
> hiding them. If you're worried about messages or documentation in your
> language, install it or download the source and check it out. You could
> download the Contents file and look at what provides mo's and docs in your
> language, if you were so inclined.

The win is two fold:
1) It would be possible to create a good, mono-language, user
experience.  This is already the case for English, but isn't for any
other language.  It's a matter of being friendly to the user.

2) It would decrease download time, fustration, etc.  I would think
that waiting an hour to DL a package and all it's supporting
libraries, etc. only to find that it's all in the wrong language and
doesn't support your multi-byte characters would one of the most
fustrating experiences in the world.

This would also aid CD distributers.  You could create a distro (in
the optimal future) that would only contian software for the
language of the country you're trying to sell it in.

> It's more complexity for the developers, and another element of bugs. I don't
> see it as a overall win instead of a cute feature.

I'm not sure how much work it is.  I also don't know how much of a
headache *not* having something similar is for people who know
little or no english.

This all will be have to be dealt with at somepoint, because there
is no way all packages are going to be in all languages.

As things continue you'll start seeing cool software written by
people with less experience in english.  Imagine what would happen
if the next cool webbrowser was written by someone who mainly spoke
Arabic?  Wouldn't *you* be cheesed off (I'm assuming you don't speak

Anyway, it's a thought and it's probably still too early to worry
about such stuff....maybe.


Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code.
	 -- Dave Olson

The Doctor What: Guru to the Gods                http://docwhat.gerf.org/
docwhat@gerf.org                                                   KF6VNC

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