Published in Tectonic
Pootle is a web-based tool that allows users to easily translate free and open source software into their language without necessarily being programmers.
South African open source localisation guru and director of Translate.org.za, Dwayne Bailey, who co-founded the WordForge project, met the Creative Commons team at the iCommons Summit in Brazil in June where they were discussing possible ways to localise CC software. With Bailey close at hand, the team had a Pootle-powered translation server up and running in one afternoon.
“For me this was so unexpected. And to see the software live within a few hours was amazing. I believe it’s a true demonstration that collaboration and sharing can create powerful solutions,” Bailey was quoted as saying on the iCommons blog.
Bailey told Tectonic that both projects have benefited from the collaboration. “Pootle met the needs of Creative Commons to localise their software … [and] being associated with CC has helped to expose Pootle more.”
Pootle has also been adapted to translate right-to-left languages such as Hebrew, Farsi and Pashtu. Bailey says that Pootle had previously not handled right-to-left translation very well, but since a Saudi Arabian group focusing on Arab localisation got involved, the project has strengthened in this regard.
“With the help of this group we were able to identify the problems and fix them and now more and more right-to-left languages can be translated. The really great thing is that by translating Arabic, we could translate almost eight other right-to-left languages,” says Bailey.
Although Pootle is an acronym for PO-based Online Translation Localisation Engine, the name was inspired by a fluffy character in a 1970s BBC children’s program called “The Flumps” .
The first Pootle version was created in 2004 with the aid of CATIA and, according to Bailey, it has grown by leaps and bounds since. “This year, with funding from OSI and shortly IDRC, we have taken it to the next level. We are beginning to integrate features to allow better management of the items being translated, turning it into a translation management system (TMS),” Bailey said. “We are seeing it being used by more and more people.”