Translating a rolling release

Milo Casagrande milo at
Tue Mar 19 18:07:15 UTC 2013

Thanks for starting this discussion!

On Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 1:28 PM, Redmar <redmar at> wrote:
> On the positive side, translation effort does not have to be condensed
> into a short window between UI Freeze an the TranslationsDeadline, which
> should give us all more time to complete translations. Also, if programs
> are updated more frequently, the amount of new strings in each release
> will also be smaller, which again makes translating easier.
> If updates are more frequent, this could also remove the need for
> langpack updates, which have been lacking of late anyway.

I still think you will need a langpack, since translations should be
shipped in that way.
The problem is that we will need more frequent langpacks; langpacks
that lately have been lacking.

> The main negative side is the risk of regressions in translation of
> programs. If the new version of a program is released before translators
> have had time to update all translations, users will be faced with a
> program that is suddenly only partly translated.

Indeed, but in a rolling-release style we should, and ideally would,
have more frequent langpacks and the possibility to update
translations more often (also to fix typos and errors).
The drawback I see is also on the perceived quality of the
translations: shorter times mean less time to review and to catch

Translation teams might enter more a "review" mode with that process in place.

> This is a serious
> usability problem with the Dash and HUD, since these are text-based
> tools. For example, I'm currently running the Dutch beta of 13.04, and
> many of the search terms I use to start programs (Dash) or interact with
> program menus (HUD) do not work, since the translations are not
> completed yet. If we switch to a rolling release, each new version of a
> program has a chance of breaking the users workflow by removing
> localised terms the user relied on for the Dash or HUD. Clearly, this
> would not be acceptable.

It is not acceptable if you consider each rolling-release to be
rock-solid as a normal release, or as close to it.
Personally, I do not, and if such a change will happen (also, it looks
less likely), I will suggest to use LTSes, as they would be guaranteed
to be the stable ones.

> Tools needed: There would have to be some way that translators get
> notified when the new version of a program is about to land. I'm
> guessing this is not a difficult thing to accomplish, and could be as
> simple as sending an automatic message to the ubuntu-translators list
> when a new version of a program enters the 'proposed' repository.

We need to consider also documentation here: we ship documentation
with the OS, and it is necessary to coordinate with the docs team as
Luckily translations of the docs are now exported with the langpack,
but that, if I'm not wrong, needs to be triggered manually (langpacks
by default are not "full", and should contain only application, not
docs translations).

We should have policies in place between devs/translators/writers,
like Gnome has to request freeze breaks and such, policies that should
be followed though.

One of the problem I see is with upstream (Gnome, etc...) sync: how
that will happen, how often? I didn't read all the rolling-discussion
though, so maybe that has been addressed.
Those are things that just pop out of my mind, if anything else comes
out, I'll share it here.


Milo Casagrande <milo at>

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