The Joomla! Community Magazine™

The Joomla Translation Experience

Written by | Monday, 31 December 2012 22:00 | Published in 2013 January
The International Translation Team members are a bit anonymous. They are all great contributors, but not really recognizable in the community. We want to change that! Let’s tell the Joomla Community who they are and share their experiences and expectations with the world!  
The Joomla Translation Experience @helvecio

Currently there are 42 teams listed at We asked them to answer a survey which intended to give us a glimpse of who they are and what they're doing.

First question: when did you get involved with Joomla Translation?. Most everyone is contributing since the fiirst day Joomla was released.


Then we asked: How did you get involved in Joomla Translation? A vast majority had other reasons to get involved, which made us curious. In a future survey we'll go deeper into that. Second reason to get involved was curiosity. That means that Joomla caught their attention at some point. Also, several were invited by members. This shows how each one of us can contribute to keep the project growing over time.


How many people are on your team? We found out most teams are small with no more than five people.


Are you an active member in your local Joomla community? We got 89% of YES to this question. Good to know people are involved! But, what about those 11%? What is preventing them from being more active?


Surprisingly, we find that when asked "Does your team provide localized Joomla distributions with sample data translated?", we get a lower percentage of YES. This demonstrates there hasn't been much interest in translating the sample data.


Whe asked "How long does it take to translate a Joomla initial version (1.5, 1.6, 3.0)?" we had different answers. Some teams finish their translation after ten hours of work, while others take up to three months. This reflects the fact of also translating the sample data, the number of people in the team, and their available time for the project.

When it comes to "How long does it take to translate a Joomla mantaining version (1.7, 2.5, 3.1)?", answers range from "a couple of hours" to three weeks.

Teams were also asked "What are the challenges your team faces when translating to your language?" Top challenges seem to be difficulty in translating technical terms and the number of characters used in different languages. For example, the space taken up by a common phrase such as  "Read More..." can be different, depending on the language. An issue that showed up and seemed relevant is that left-to-right languages have a harder time translating from English.

Then it was asked, "What improvements would you like to find in the current Joomla translation process?" Many teams are not happy with Transifex and would like to have a tool within Joomla or on the web that would make their work easier. Also, the number of times the same words, like YES and NO, are called by different strings is an issue, because they have to be translated several times in different places.

Most of the teams reported that they also are active 3rd-party extensions translators. When asked about any proposal for improving the current translation process for 3rd-party extensions, it seem that Transifex is the tool that is most used to accomplish this task. Another proposal is to have developers use more of the core resources, so there's no need to translate general words like YES and NO, for example. Also, there's been a request for developers to unify the way translatable text is made available.


Finally the teams have been asked to input any comments that they want to share. We got requests for a glossary for technical terms used in Joomla and have some FAQ's and articles to stimulate people to join the translator teams.

The Joomla Community Magazine and the Joomla Translation Team are listening to you all. Please, feel free to add your input through the comment forms below.




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Tagged under Project News, English
Helvecio da Silva

Helvecio da Silva

Graphic and web designer, I use Joomla since 2005. Currently based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I run my own design studio - HLVC Design - as a consultant in web and graphic design, Joomla, Wordpress, Online Social Media and Online Marketing. Passionate about my work and Joomla, I'm always eager to find more and more about the system and share my knowledge with the community. Visit my profile at
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Designer Gráfico e Web, uso Joomla desde 2005. Atualmente baseado no Rio de Janeiro, trabalho em meu próprio estúdio - HLVC Design - onde atuo como designer para web e gráfico, consultor em Joomla, Wordpress, Midias Sociais e Marketing Online. Minha paixão em aprender me leva a sempre conhecer mais a fundo o sistema e a compartilhar o que sei com a comunidade. Visite meu perfil em

Yes, there should a centralized process. Because at this moment some of the teams are not that cooperative and no other was to join the team.
If support for Joomla's .ini files was to be added, MediaWiki translation extension might be a nice alternative to Transifex:
There are solutions out there, like Transifex. It's a perfect match for Joomla translations (and supports Joomla Translation files by default) but many people seem to be opposed to it without actually trying to use it for a while. Their loss. :)
Marijke Stuivenberg Monday, 07 January 2013
Yes there are solutions like transifex and there are more webbased solutions. Some teams use them some don't. Stating that transifex is perfect is totally nonsense. There's a list of issues for translating the core of Joomla in transifex to begin with. Assuming that Translation Teams haven't explored the option is also not correct. Many of those teams are contributing for over a very long time and know their way around. Your remarks just show how negative you think about them which is not really useful in any good constructive discussion about finding the best solution.
Great article, it bears repeating how important it is that all of the system messages, documentation, sample data and extension content, be translated into many, many languages the world round. Joomla Translators are in many ways unsung hero's for our community.

Helvecio - it is not a surprise for me to hear that many who translate core material also provide support for extension translations, and that they do so using Transifex. Was the survey also able to determine if they do so as part of the Open Translators effort?

Recently, Sam Moffat said goodbye and shared thoughts for the community in his "Moving On" note. What really struck me about his message was that too many times, the community waits for leadership, or the old-fashioned "core team" to solve our problems. Open Translators is one of the best examples I can think of in the seven years I've been involved in Joomla where an organic group of plain old community members took on the challenge of extension translations and made a resource available for any developer to use, free of charge, to get those extensions translated.

Sometimes, I am really touched by the commitment of people in this community, that they would give so much of themselves, without a fancy title or a lot of attention, and in doing so, push the value of Joomla even further into the world.
Marijke Stuivenberg Monday, 07 January 2013
Thank you for your aknowledgement regarding Joomla Translators.
About the Open Translators effort, you know my opinion (and also many of the Translation Team coordinators).
While you might think it is one of the best examples I still think it is a pity that they completely ignored the opinion of the existing Translation Teams, their coordinators and the work they've done.
Even when some of them tried to have a constructive conversation to bring in their concerns and issues Open Translators and Transifex has, they were more or less laughed at and in the worst case even insulted sadly by some of the people on the OT project.
Personally I can tell you that the Dutch Translation Team members have tried to collaborate in Open Translators but have not good experiences about that. Some projects use Transifex outside the Open Translators project and they (and me) are more willing to contribute that way then within the OT project.

On the part of leadership, and since I am being one of the persons involved in leadership, as a special interest and assigned to the task to improve internationalization, I can inform you that there is a group that is working hard towards good solutions. I can imagine that sometimes it might look as if there is nothing going on and it takes more time then we also want to. But I think you can agree putting in solutions where the majority of the existing people that are contributing are not happy with is not a good solution. In Dutch we have a saying " we moeten niet het kind met het badwater weggooien" (translation: But we must be sure we are not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.) In my opinion that is kind of what happened with Open Translators.
Open Translators and Transifex seems to be more focussed on the developers end then on the translators end. Even though it seems to look so easy.

That we need an environment where both Translation Teams, Translators and Developers can benefit from is clear. It has been on my list for a long time and that is what most TTs expressed in the survey. Last summer with the GSoC I was exited that one of the projects was a good start for that. Unfortunately the student had to quit before starting as of personal reasons. Finding the right people that can dedicate time on developing this environment and understanding all the needs is not easy. But the good news is that I talked to some developers at the JWC who might be interested and hopefully will be able to dedicate their time. So my hopes are still high we can achieve this goal in 2013.
Marijke - I'm very sad to read those comments. It's important to learn to allow this community to take some initiative and solve their own problems. I've been a part of this community for seven years - it's time to support this community as they support one another. Collaborate! Celebrate! Shine a light on good things done.
Marijke Stuivenberg Friday, 11 January 2013
Amy - It's funny how you mention - It's important to learn to allow this community to take some initiative and solve their own problems - and - it's time to support this community as they support one another.

This is exactly what all those Translation Teams (TTs) have done over a large period. As you can read in the article most of them 7 (+) years now. They have started their own local communities, they took the initiative to form Translation Teams from their local users and provide the translation not only for their own local community but gracefully shared them with the project all these years.
A part of them have done so all those years too for extensions. They offer local packages for their community members, but they also shared the translation files back to the developer.

This is what the article is about and let's keep it that way.
If we want a shiny spotlight on collaborating then these TTs deserve one for sure!
Marijke - My earlier comment:

The bottomline is there are some pretty amazing people helping translate the core code as official working groups for the project and translate extensions on Open Translators. There are many who help with both. We are a very fortunate community to have people who care like this -- it extends our work.

Thanks to all of our translators, and to you, too, Marijke. Cheers!
Actually, some people (coordinators) are opposed to Transifex because of the poor history features: it's difficult to see what exactly was changed and by whom. MediaWiki Translation extension is superior in this regard as you can guess, if you've used Wikipedia or MediaWiki.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. Transifex offers a translation history per translated string. It shows you the previous translations and the users who made the translation.

It even offers quite a few options (Selecting which version to roll back to, roll back to original...) which are quite usefull.

Are you saying that's not detailed enough for you guys?
I personally don't have a preference as I'm not in a position where it's a problem, but yes, it is not enough for some lang team leaders. I imagine the ability of MediaWiki to list recent changes would be 100x better in their opinion. At least I haven't found such an option in Transifex.
Another advantage of Transifex is that it has a commandline interface to upload/download/manipulate translations. We (jfusion joomla component) use this to automatically sync our github repo with transifex (online translations are added daily to github). In addition we have a cron script that automatically builds new language packs daily.

The end result is that a translation team just needs to deal with the online interface. All the other building/packaging is done automatically every 24 hours.
I'm also using transifex for translation of extensions, but have found that is a better tool (in my opinion) for translating the core files. It gives the opportunity to download the complete zipped package with all files inclued (ini, xml, php) for admin, site and install. Free for OpenSource - just contact the developer.
Thinking about your comments, a bit more, Marijke, I just can't help but think that there are some really basic misunderstandings.

I do not volunteer as part of the Open Translators group, but I am impressed with their initiative and I would love to see other groups just act, and not wait for someone else to fix their problems.

What I am willing to do to help is to write an article for the magazine about Open Translators team. At minimum, it would be good to get a clear profile of what the team is doing, the tools they use, who all is involved and how it helps the Joomla community.

Most of the time, simple misunderstandings create problems and it is easy enough to take care of clearing up what is going on.

The bottomline is there are some pretty amazing people helping translate the core code as official working groups for the project and translate extensions on Open Translators. There are many who help with both. We are a very fortunate community to have people who care like this -- it extends our work.

I am trying to personally find a constructive response to challenges I encounter in the Joomla community. For this situation, I am willing to pull information together for the magazine. I think that will help clarify what's going on and reduce unnecessary concern.

Cheers Marijke.
Polish translator Friday, 11 January 2013
I still prefer human translations
Transifex, in my opinion, is just a tool. However, it's unfortunately that some toes had been trodden in the process of it being set up. I still remember some of my first conversations with JM where we were planning on setting up the first translation teams. It's always been a feisty area to say the least.

Whatever the case, and I'm sure there are as many sides to the story as there are people involved, there seems to be a new toy on the block in the form of the Google Translators Toolkit. Has anyone looked into that?
While opinions are given more then a thousand people are using a tool and translating extensions for Joomla! Shouldn't we all be happy about that?

And in the meantime, it works. No offence taken at all in the name of the translators and developers using OT.
there are 20 translation packs for big J, and it's far from our needs; as I've understand in your article above they are (more or less) volunteers. We cannot ask too much from enthusiasts, we just thank them in any words we can put on our comments. God knows, if we'll find ourselves in their place we cannot do better... keep up the good work, guys and gals!