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Re: Debian Policy released: localized manpages

On Sun, 16 Aug 2009 21:51:32 +0800
Paul Wise <pabs@debian.org> wrote:

> > I did start such a guide via my blog during DebConf8
> >
> > http://www.linux.codehelp.co.uk/serendipity/index.php?/archives/129-po4a-translation-support-from-any-format.html
> Would you (or anyone else) be willing to turn this into an article for
> the development section of LWN to promote the use of po4a outside of
> Debian? In case you need an incentive, LWN pay their writers.

It's certainly appealing - however, there is a reason why this blog
article didn't turn into the series of articles that I anticipated
during DebConf8 - I haven't got suitable translations for the packages
concerned, therefore the code suffers from a lack of real testing.
(Payment is not an incentive for me - indeed it tends to complicate
things more than anything else.)

I was initially looking at revising and expanding on that article as a
direct result of working with translations of the emdebian-tools
manpages but there were simply too many strings for initial translator
(who is part of the Emdebian project) to handle. I've since split the
source package into 4 so maybe now is a good time to seek out
translators for some of these manpages. (The content of the manpages
has settled somewhat over the intervening time as well, which will
help.) I'll start the process on debian-i18n. (1 of the 4 has no
translatable content - emdebian-archive-keyring.)

I can then use the process of improving and adapting the build system
for these packages according to complete the documentation, file bugs
against po4a etc.

In that respect, Policy is ahead of my available time.

If there is a different package already using po4a with an established
build system hook, let me know.

OTOH if people here think that the blog itself is sufficient for an
LWN article, once reworded and rephrased, then I might consider doing the
LWN article in stages too - however I do think it is worth having some
translations to work with before claiming that the code snippets
included in the original blog entry are sufficiently robust for a more
authoritative document like LWN.

The three source packages with po4a support already are:
emdebian-tools  (1743 entries) 385kb POT file
emdebian-rootfs  (384 entries)  65kb POT file
emdebian-grip    (531 entries) 115kb POT file

I think I'll start with emdebian-rootfs - the strings haven't changed
much in recent releases. The time needed for translations to be made
means that I should be off VAC before I need to do much with the code.

There is also the proviso that although po4a is very good at what it
does, issues remain that are difficult to fix but which jar when
compared to how the same issues are handled in program or debconf
translations. e.g. skipping some strings and adding comments for
translators that do not show up in the generated manpages. I should
have filed bug reports about these things ages ago but ran out of time.
With real translators and real translations at hand, these things
should be easier to describe in bugs and easier to test potential fixes.


Neil Williams

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