Consolidating the various freezes

Soren Hansen soren at
Fri Sep 14 17:23:00 BST 2007

On Fri, Sep 14, 2007 at 09:10:24AM -0700, Jordan Mantha wrote:
> > I'm surprised, actually, that documentation has had any sort of
> > freeze process. Being a descriptive work rather than a defining one,
> > I think it makes sense to allow the documentation to be changed up
> > until only just a few days before release (to leave a tiny bit of
> > time to fix up compilation issues or whatever).
> Try to solidify/proofread/bug fix a whole distro's amount of
> documentation *and* get it translated in a couple days. It's not that
> easy ;-)

That's not what I'm saying at all.

> Translators don't like having to retranslate strings they've already
> translated. If we don't freeze the docs and allow time for translation
> to take place with minimal changes then people get quite upset,
> reasonably so.

I disagree. In programs, there's generally very little space for strings
in a user interface, so the wording needs to be very precise to
correctly convey the intended message. Slight changes in wording often
reflect changes in the functionality said string describes.
Additionally, there are technical reasons why a changed string causes
work for translators. Even a spelling mistake cannot be corrected
withouth causing work for translators. With documentation, this is not
the case. There are no technical reasons why the documentation must be
kept in precise sync. There is no extra work to do for translators if a
spelling mistake is corrected. Most often, the English documentation is
the best, which is why that is used as the base of the translations, but
essentially the non-English documentation could easily be written
independently from the English one, as their purpose is a descriptive
one, rather than a defining one. 

> For the Documentation Team the doc freeze is quite important. We need
> time to get everything proofread. 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't proofreading need to be over with
*before* string freeze? Sure, proofreading is fun, but it's kind of a
bummer to not be allowed to fix the speling mistaeks you find during
said proofreading.

> It's really not much different than software in this regard. We write
> as much content as possible until the freeze and then go into "bug
> fixing" mode until release.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but I don't see how it affects a
translation of the documentation if you change something in the English
one? You may have chosen to reword things or whatever to make things
sound better, but what was there before might also have been correct,
but just not very cleverly worded. The translation may have been really
good the first time and might not need any changes to reflect *your*

> The 2 issues we have are: 1. having to describe an every-changing
> distro.  It's helpful then to have the doc freeze *after* the Feature
> Freeze and UI Freeze, especially if screenshots are involved.


> 2. giving enough time for translators to translate *before* the
> release.  generally 4-6 weeks is good, in past experience.

They can start any time they want? If they think the English
documentation sucks, they are surely not bound by any sort of
(unwritten) contract that their translation must match the English

Soren Hansen
Ubuntu Server Team
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