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New in Web Translate It: Custom locales

Posted by Edouard on 2 mai 2011

The other reason of migrating Web Translate It to a new architecture wasn’t only improving page speed. It was also to be able to develop a new feature: custom locales.

What is a locale?

A locale is a set of parameters that defines the user’s language, country and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in their user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of a language identifier and a region identifier.

When you create a locale on Web Translate, a tool assists you to build your locale. It maps your locale to a locale known by Web Translate It.

It creates well formed locales. For instance en, en-GB, en-GB_Latn, ru_Cyrl, etc. This prevents users from creating locales that don’t make sense, for instance en_Arab (English with script Arabic) or fr_Cyrl (French with script Cyrillic).

This is useful, because Web Translate It has a lot of information about locales in database, for instance the locale directionality (Left to Right or Right to Left?) or the locale plural rules and helps the translator translate accordingly.

One drawback, though, is that it forces you to use already existing locales.

Why would you want to create custom locales?

Depending on your workflow, you sometimes need to create “fake” locales to hold a temporary copy.

For instance, if your development team write an English copy that needs to be proofread, you might want to create a fake locale “English by developers”. The copy in this locale will, in turn, be modified and proofread by a professional proofreader before being translated into other languages.

Another reason could be that your app needs a specific custom locale based on a very specific location. There can be many good reasons.

So, how to build a specific locale?

In the Locale manager, start by choosing a base locale. Then, click on “Create a specific locale” to toggle additional options.

These additional options will be postfixed to the base locale code and name.

  • Postfix code is a code that will be postfixed to the locale code. For instance dev.
  • Postfix description is the description of the postfix you add. For Instance “by developers”.

This will generate a new custom locale with the code en_dev and name “English by developers”.

New in Web Translate It: Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted by Edouard on 2 mai 2011

Web Translate It now allows you to navigate the translation interface and translate strings using keyboard shortcuts. This is a great new feature, I hope you will like it.

When you load the translation interface, you will notice the first string in the list is now highlighted with a yellow background.

It means the string is selected. You can interact with selected strings in many ways.


Press the key to select the string underneath.

Press key to move one string up.

Finally, translate any selected string by pressing the enter key.

Using keyboard shortcuts in Web Translate It is very simple and similar in many ways to other spreadsheet applications: up and down to move, enter to edit.

Editing a string

Opened strings now automatically load the translation suggestions. You can apply a suggestion by using key combinations:

  • Ctrl 1 applies the first suggestion,
  • Ctrl 2 applies the second suggestion,
  • Ctrl 3 the third, etc.

You can also save a string using Ctrl s, or leave the string without saving using esc.

Advanced navigation

On highlighted strings, you can also use the following shortcuts:

  • p for proofreading or unproofreading a string,
  • c to comment on a string
  • v to paste the source text on a string,
  • displays the translation history for that string,
  • brings you back to the translation interface from that page.

You will find some great help about all these shortcuts by clicking on the “Keyboard shortcuts available” link on the translation interface, or by hitting the h key anytime on the translation interface.

I hope you will find this improvement useful. Thank you for using Web Translate It.

Are you translating country and language names?

Posted by Edouard on 26 avril 2011

One thing we often need when internationalizing software is translating country and language names. Translating this data manually is a pain, and a lot of work.

Many developers don’t know about CLDR, Unicode’s Common Locale Data Repository, which contains translation and information about pretty much everything a software could need. It contains translations for country names, language names, currencies, and many other things.

However, CLDR data is a bit difficult to consume in an app, because it is composed of large XML files containing a lot of different things.

Introducing locale_data

I just released locale_data, which was extracted out of Web Translate It.

locale_data is a collection of country and language names, translated into hundreds of languages, and stored into YAML files for easy consumption in apps. For instance, here’s the list of countries in German, or in Spanish.

The data itself comes from CLDR, and rake tasks are provided to update the translation files whenever a new version of CLDR comes out.

You can get locale_data for free on Github.

Bi-directional text editing and Web Translate It

Posted by Edouard on 5 mars 2010

Today someone asked me if Web Translate It support bidi scripts.

What are bidi scripts?

Bi-directionnal scripts is text containing text in both directionalities, that is to say both right-to-left (RTL) and left-to-right (LTR). This is fairly frequent, for example Arab text containing English brand names.

Web Translate It support LTR, RTL and bi-directionnal text in its web interface. More precisely, Web Translate It automatically select the correct text directionality based on the language and script you choose.

Bi-directionnality is a web-browser feature. It works fine with Firefox 3.5, Google Chrome and Safari 4.

Thank you for using Web Translate It!