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Maintainers, please be kind to your package(s) translators

The closer sarge release is, the higher the problem I'll write about
below becomes annoying.

When we are close to a release, most package maintainers focus on what
I call "package polishing" besides tracking down all remaining
bugs. That's perfectly respectable and certainly a Good Thing. Fine.

This involves, besides lots of other things, tracking down typo or
minor errors in texts we write here and there (README.Debian, man
pages, debconf templates...)

I will focus on the last item because this was my main Debian activity
last months.

Thanks to the great work of Joey Hess and Denis Barbier, mostly, we
now have a very strong system for translating debconf templates and
easying the translators work. For those ot aware of this, try "apt-get
install po-debconf" and read the man pages.

This, however has a drawback : as soon as the package maintainer
changes one single character in one template, this means that the
corresponding string is marked "fuzzy" in all translations when the
templates is regenerated by "dh_installdebconf" or other methods used
by those reluctant to debhelper.

Thus, the WHOLE TEMPLATE which includes this string will be presented
in english to users....this is normal : we shouldn't show supposedly
outdated translations.

This leads me to a few guidelines for maintainers who polish their
templates :

-don't do this repeatedly and constantly change wording. You will
generate extra work to translators

-as soon as you decide to use debconf (DON'T abuse it, otherwise Joey
will hit you....), PLEASE take time for writing your templates. Have
them reviewed by debian-l10n-english. Ask for help about typography
and so on...

-when you find a typo, look for other errors in templates. PLEASE
change as most errors as possible in ONE release

-last but not least, especially near releases : get in touch with
translators BEFORE releasing the package. Their name/address is at the
top of debian/po/*.po files. The most active translation teams are
very quick for reacting. Send the translator his/her new po file after
manually running "debconf-updatepo" from debian directory. Wait for
him/her to send you the new file with unfuzzied strings

-when correcting trivial errors and OINLY if you're sure of what
you're doing, especially regarding character encodings, you MAY
manually correct po files. For instance, if I remove a double space in
my master templates file, I may assume that translatrs did not make
the same mistake. So, after running "debconf-updatepo", I may edit
their PO file and VERY CAREFULLY remove the "#, fuzzy" marker before
the offending string.

The last item is a very good help for translators if you know what you
are doing. Again, be careful with character encodings.....some editor
may change the encoding while saving a file.

As a conclusion, PLEASE start thinking about STOPPING debconf
templates modifications unless really needed. If you have to do it
anyway, BE KIND to translators : warn them before upload and/or make
manual corrections if you think it's OK to do this.

The same probably applies to other fields concerned by translation :
man page, program interfaces and so on....


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