Localization (L10n) is a big priority with open-source projects. It is all about reaching out to the widest audience possible by making their software speak the language the end-user is most comfortable with. Almost every project, big or small, has its own L10n efforts, with hundreds of community-members pitching in, driven by their desire to give back. The more a software is popular, the greater the number of language teams it has. It is not rare to find translations happening in a variety of minority languages from different corners of the world. That’s the beauty of open-source projects!
Coordinating hundreds of contributors and managing the huge quantum of work happening all the time can be a tall order. Enter L10n/translation management tools and what looks like a mammoth task at first becomes a breeze in a flash. There are several of these tools available and new ones keep coming on to the scene every now and again. In my post titled “Localizing Commotion Wireless Project: First Steps”, I had mentioned the 12 open-source projects I had explored to understand their L10n processes and to know the tools they use. From the insights gained from that research, I took up 3 tools for investigation, namely Transifex, Pootle and Launchpad. I studied 2 more tools – Weblate and TranslateWiki.net. Weblate is the newest of all the tools and is heavily inspired by Pootle. TranslateWiki.net, though good in some ways, does not have some of the advantageous features the other tools offer. So, I am going to confine this post to what I found regarding Transifex, Pootle and Launchpad.
First off, prominent users of each of the 3 tools.
Transifex: Tor, Fedora, Pidgin, Redhat, Mozilla, VLC Media Player, OpenStack, Media Goblin
Pootle: LibreOffice, Python Documentation, Mozilla Verbatim, LXDE
Launchpad: Ubuntu, Linux Mint, OpenERP Server
Remember I had promised to quote examples of projects that shifted from one translation platform to another last time when I had compared Amara and Dotsub? Here goes the list:
- Tor migrated from Pootle to Transifex.
- OpenStack and Roundcube shifted from Launchpad to Transifex.
- LXDE moved from Transifex to Pootle.
Screenshot 1: Fedora Project translations on Transifex
Screenshot 2: LibreOffice translations on Pootle Server
Screenshot 3: Ubuntu translations on Launchpad
How they compare with one another
I compared Transifex, Pootle and Launchpad from two perspectives: one, from that of the developer/project manager; two, from that of the translator. The comparisons can be seen in the images below.
Image 1: Features Comparison: Developer/Manager-Side
Image 2: Features Comparison: Translator-Side
Caveat: The information contained in these tables is true to the best of my knowledge. If you believe there are any discrepancies, please do let me know. I would be more than happy to correct them.
I have also uploaded these tables in the .odt format here and here. Feel free to copy or download the content of the tables. But use the information with caution. Software evolve. New features keep getting added; older ones are deprecated. Make sure to check if anything has changed since I published this post.
Transifex, Pootle or Launchpad: Which one to choose?
Going by the range and depth of features, Transifex fares better than both Pootle and Launchpad. Unlike Amara and Dotsub, which I have still to lay my hands on, I have already tried out all these three translation management tools (but only as a translator!). Be it the interface or the ease of use, Transifex has a leg up on the competition. Everything can be done from within your account (both as a manager and as a translator). No need to write emails to language coordinators to request joining their teams. Pressing a button is all that needs to be done (Launchpad works in the same manner in this respect.) Team roles are clearly defined, so you know who the coordinators, reviewers and translators of a language team are. There is dedicated space for holding discussions among members of a team. Project managers (called maintainers in Transifex lexicon) too have a room for themselves, where they can make important announcements related to their projects (this feature is available in Pootle as well).
The cherry on the cake is that when you sign up for Transifex, it throws its doors open for you to see all the translators and translation projects (open-source and those on the free-plan) there are on that hub. For the managers, this means that the translators are yours for the asking (Transifex lets you send invitations to existing Transifex users, provided you know their Transifex usernames). As for translators, they can simultaneously participate in as many projects as they like. Win-win, isn’t it?
This is my take on three of the most well-known open-source translation management tools. Transifex is clearly riding the wave of popularity. However, issues like integration and hosting are important considerations as well and the decision to choose any tool should be based on a thorough analysis of a project’s needs and the given tool’s suitability for it in all ways thinkable.