Make it Easy for Yourself

You start to write about your application –

OK, you will need a front page and a couple of sub-pages – that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Many people have done just this on UserBase.  Some write directly onto new pages, some are happier to draft their work first, so use sub-pages of their User-space pages, and that works fine.  With our without the help of the UserBase Admins, the content can then be pasted into the correct tree structure and the draft removed – and everyone’s happy.  But what if you want to write a whole manual?

As the Amarok team have discovered, it’s a whole new ball-game.  You start with a Contents page, listing all the pages you think you’ll need, and you start to build.  Before you finish I’ll guarantee that you’ve thought of something that would have been better on a page of its own.  As it happens, that’s not a big problem – you can edit the contents page and create a new page that way.  But wait – what seemed good organisation to start with is less convincing now, and maybe it would be better to move things around, re-organise a little.  Hmm – not so bad!  There’s a little icon for Move – ah yes, it moves the page to the structure you want and even leaves a re-direct behind, in case someone uses the old link.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately this is where it starts to come unstuck.  Once you’ve finished, the Translators move in – and where should their links point?  If they translate from the original they probably will use the original link, which is now a re-direct.  That’s not good.  We have to clean up re-directs, in that case, and that’s when we find that moved pages have been moved yet again, causing double-redirects – an even bigger job for cleaning up.  You see, we can’t just delete them – there could be a number of pages that link to the old page, so we have to track all links, and in the case of the double-redirect we have to do that for both levels of old pages.  It can be quite difficult to follow, but it’s a necessary part.  Happily we have almost finished the double-redirects – heaven preserve us from triple-redirects!

“So you said I could make it easy for myself?”

We think so.  It’s experimental, yes, but it should help anyone starting new documentation.  Most of what you see on UserBase is in the “Main” namespace, but today we have opened up a new namespace called “Draft”.  You can start your documentation there without worrying about the issues I’ve just talked about.  Move things around as much as you like – just remember that in the end any page links will need sorting!

The idea is that when the pages are ready we can simply move the whole structure into the Main namespace if any redirects have been dealt with, but if it has proved more complex and things have been moved around a lot we can use Copy/Paste to create the Main pages from the Draft ones, fixing links as we go and losing all the redirects on the way.

One last thing – you have to be the main writer for your documentation, and you are used to an entirely different kind of mark-up, finding that attempting Mediawiki mark-up gets you utterly confused.  We can handle that too – and again the Draft namespace is the best place to do it.  Put your plain text there.  Add any markup that will be obvious to us, for instance <bullets>,  and we will help you get it looking the way you want.

Using Draft  should remove a good deal of anxiety and hassle, but we need you to try it out.  Take a look at Draft and let us know what you need to make it even better for you to draft your documentaion.  See you there!


Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

WebWord2011 – Day – which day?

There is a strange sort of time-warp.  We can’t remember which day it is, yet the week is disappearing fast.  Most of the time I’ve been working with a group on UserBase issues.  Matthias (Pipesmoker) Meßmer has been on-call to fix many theming or display issues that we identified, while Niklas (Nikerabbit) Laxström, our wonderful Translate extension author, has added new features for our delight.

In the past, we used “Special:myLanguage” markup to help “other-language-speakers” to get the correct language page, but when you were working on a page, adding a link with that markup did not show the essential red-link that warns you that the page is not yet created.  Now it does show a red-link, which makes life so much easier for all contributors.

Another “big deal” for us was that there were times when it was decided that a page had been poorly named, or wrongly inserted into the page structure.  Because some of our translators are so diligent, we acquired translations of the page almost immediately, and before the problem was realised.   Once a page had translations added it was not possible to move it.  Now, thanks to yet another of Niklas’ efforts, a page together with all its translations can be moved to a new location.

You may remember that Claus Christensen is our Danish translator for UserBase.  He and I have worked mainly on improving accessibility.  Over the lifetime of UserBase we have added a great deal of help for users and contributors, yet people have found it difficult to find the exact function they needed.  We decided that extra sidebar links were necessary.  Again, Matthias and Niklas had to help the more arcane needs, but finding your way around should be very much easier.

Previously we have thought that it is not necessary to translate help pages, on the grounds that in order to translate you have to have a good grasp of English.  Recently, though, Zhao Han pointed out to me that for people who use other-script languages it can be helpful to see translations of help pages, so we worked on that too.

Lots of small changes have happened too, mostly the sort that you don’t notice when they are right, but you would have seen when they were not so good.

Finally, Hans (Mogger) Chen decided that UserBase needed its own strong logo.  He designed a possible logo, then took it to Eugene (it-s) Trounev, who assessed the practicalities and started on “the real design”.  So – watch out for that before the end of the week.

Oddly enough, even through all the long days of activity, we still have managed to have fun.  Eugene’s prowess in the kitchen is now known, and I’m sure he’ll be in much demand in the future too.  I’ve never tried handling food on a swinging barbecue before – and probably won’t again!  You need more hands than an octopus to hold everything steady.  We’ve had wonderful warm, sunny weather, so whenever the head needed clearing we’ve sat outside and discussed things, but we’ve been careful, because the first day some of us were sunburned before we realised what was happening.

I’m so impressed with the amount of work we’ve managed in the time, and will be pushing for a repeat sprint to bring the next set of improvements.

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

Congratulations, Translatewiki

As many of you know, Translatewiki is a Mediawiki extension, used by UserBase.  Today’s newsletter announces its 6th birthday!

We are 6 years young!

Translatewiki.net was started as a small addition to a test wiki of NiklasLaxström. First the project became known as Betawiki until it matured andbecame translatewiki.net. We are grateful that our project is hosted forfree and given room to grow by netcup.de <http://netcup.de> . The platformnow supports localisation for 20 free and open source projects with almost1,000 message groups, has 2,500 translators in over 200 languages. Its usershave made over 3 million edits and contributed close to 2 milliontranslations for Free and Open Source Software products. According to thes23 statistics, translatewiki.net is one of the largest independentMediaWiki installations around.

Impressive indeed!  What’s more, ??Niklas Laxström gives freely of his help and advice.  Many of you will know him as Nikerabbit, on IRC, and others will remember Niklas and Siebrand Mazeland from Akademy 2010.

Congratulations to the Translatewiki team – keep up the good work 🙂   See you at the WebWorld sprint, Niklas.


Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , ,

Translation Teams for UserBase

I promised to nag you about UserBase, and here we are, already in April, and I haven’t said a word. Yet.

New content on UserBase is still slow to arrive, but we’ll talk about that another day. Today I’m looking at the position on translations.

If you haven’t looked lately, you will be surprised to hear that our landing page, Welcome_to_KDE_UserBase, is already translated into 30 languages. Sadly, I can’t say the same about any other page. Still, it’s not all gloom – there is some nice news too. Following the suggestion of a member of our localisation team, we have begun the creation of Translation Teams. This is in the very early stages, but the idea is that Team Leaders will keep an eye on any work done in their language, and provide any guidelines that are language-specific, so that a standard can be maintained. So far we have nine volunteers (some, army-style volunteered, I’ll admit 🙂 ) and although their teams are very small at the moment, we hope to make more people active in this field. 131 people have registered to do some translation, so there is plenty of room for growth in output.

We now have 392 pages within the translation system. Let’s see how some of the languages are faring. These statistics reflect the number of pages that are wholly or partly translated to the language.

Top of the league are Ukrainian and Danish, with all 392 pages translated. Yurchor and Claus_chr have been working hard for us since we first launched the system, and deserve a medal each. After that, there are:

    Italian 297
    Spanish 255
    Chinese (China) 183
    Taiwanese 155
    German 144
    French 117
    Russian 108
    Catalan 92
    Brazilian Portuguese 86
    Dutch 64
    Romanian 59
    Turkish 40
    Japanese 32
    Indonesian 31
    Polish 28
    Rusyn 21
    Portuguese 20
    Swedish 18
    Galician 17
    Czech 15
    Finnish 14
    Simplified Chinese 8
    Korean 3
    Bosnian 3
    Esperanto 2
    Hungarian 1
    Slovak 1

Surprised at some of these numbers? I was.  Pleasingly, I’m seeing good growth in Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Taiwanese (one man doing both language variants) and Catalan, but some of the other languages are surprisingly slow.

As always, if you have questions about helping, join us on IRC, #kde-www, or simply leave a message for me on my UserBase Talk page.

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , ,

How easily can you read UserBase?

If you speak Ukranian or Danish, excellently.  If you speak Chinese or Italian, quite a lot of pages.  Brazilian Portuguese, German and Spanish are beginning to make real progress.  If none of those are your language, there are very few pages translated.  To see how your language is faring, go to the Language Statistics page and enter your ISO_639-2 code

We now have 79 members registered to translate on UserBase, though only a fraction of that number is working regularly on translations.  For the top group, though, the figures are staggering.  In the last week for instance:

  • Yurchor has touched 788 pages, making 1455 changes
  • MarcusGama has touched 768 pages, with 1416 changes
  • Claus_chr has touched 764 pages with 1454 pages!

Not everyone can manage so much time and speed, but that doesn’t stop some people.  These people have also been very active

  • Qiii2006 made 402 changes
  • Caig made 425
  • Sordon made 123 and
  • Nilli made 132.

while others have made fewer but equally valued contributions. This is the translation activity for the last 21 days:
Active Translators, 21 days

Maybe you have an hour or two with nothing pressing to do?  You can easily get started.  There’s plenty of help available in our Tasks and Tools page.

By now we have completed the transfer of most existing translated pages to the new system, but there are a few glitches.  Where we don’t have a registered translator for a language, the only options are to lose the translation or to copy and paste it into the new sections.  For some languages that’s a feasible option – you only need to know enough to recognise whether a paragraph is matching the English one in content, but what if the language is a non-latin-character one?  I met one such this week.  One page has only a single translation in the old system, but that translation is Arabic.  I know by the structure that it matches most of what’s on the English page, but I’m sure that some bits are missing.  I really need help from someone who can sort that out for me.  It’s not a long page and I’d guess that someone with the right skills could do the whole thing in less than half an hour.

Other skills are needed too – php, css, database-query to name a few.  We have people with all these skills, but too small a team puts too much pressure on a few people.  What is really needed is a group for each task, maybe three or four, so that no-one is being pressured when he has other things to do.  If you can help, please come to Freenode’s #kde-www and talk to us.  You’ll get a warm welcome, I guaranteeSmile

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , ,

Who does your blog reach?

You won’t be surprised to hear that at Akademy I spent a good deal of time talking to people about UserBase, how we can improve it, and how it can help with documentation problems.  Several exciting improvements are expected in the next few weeks, but I’m leaving that as a teaser for now.  First I want to talk about just one of the ideas that was floated, as we sat watching people stir the barbeque.

Stirring the BBQ, Tampere 2010

I remarked that I often saw things in  blogs that would be interesting to readers, though probably not the whole blog as it talked of technical matters.  As an example, I remarked that in Plasma, things change quickly, yet there is little on UserBase reflecting that.  Chani’s idea was simple.  Have a space to paste the whole blog so that it can be edited down to the parts that users would find interesting.  I liked the idea, and began to wonder how we could create a scratch-pad.  Eventually I realised that I would be just introducing complexity.  There really isn’t a need for a special area.  Every user has a User:UserName page, which can have sub-pages.  All that’s needed is to use that space as a work area, then, when all is finished, to create a link from the relevant application to a new page for the blogs.
Now all I need is someone willing to try it out and give us some feed-back.  Any volunteers?
Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

Are you joining the Translation army?

Just a reminder – if you are going to trans late in UserBase you need to

  • request addition to the Translator group
  • when you have confirmation, open the page Special:LanguageStats/your-country-code to see which pages need your attention
  • Please don’t use the redlinks in the old language bar – those pages will be lost when migration is complete.
  • Those in the Translation group should be able to see “Translate this Page” on any page that has been prepared.  That link takes you to the page where you choose your language.
Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , , ,

Finally! TranslateWiki is here!

After almost a year of planning we now have the TranslateWiki facility on UserBase!  What difference does that make?  A lot!  For a start, it means a completely new way of working, if you’ve been one of our faithful on-line translators.  It takes a little getting used to, but it has big advantages for the future, and will, in the long run, save you a lot of work.  To explain how, I need to tell you something about its capabilities first.

You can translate a page on-line – more than that, you can translate part of a page and it will happily tell you next time you visit which sections you still need to translate.
You can export a page to a gettext file, allowing you to work with Lokalize or other translation tool.
Because gettext is an option, you can export for use in building a docbook version.

Producing a Manual

A manual can be written on UserBase as a page or set of pages.  When complete it is marked for translation, and a script (currently in preparation) will pass it to the l10n team who will then use the same framework as they currently do for creating docbook manuals.

Off-Line Translations

A similar workflow will be used by i18n translators. Initially their off-line translations will be checked out from SVN to another location, where it can be imported by one of the UserBase team.  As things settle down the off-line translators will be able to do their own imports.

How Does it Work?

Basically, what happens is that the author of a page adds tags which are recognised by TranslateWiki as marking it ready for translation.  TranslateWiki then prepares paragraphs into sections for translation, and sets up a link to the Translate page.  From there you can choose your export or on-line translation and the language you want to work with if you are translating on-line.
If you don’t have time to complete a page, only the remaining sections will be presented for translation next time you visit.
Of course, to get smooth working you ideally want everything prepared from the start, and UserBase has two years-worth of input which needs migrating.


One obvious question is “What happens to the translations already done for UserBase?”  The work isn’t lost, but can’t be used in that form, because TranslateWiki wouldn’t be able to track it for changes.  That means that we need a determined effort to migrate those translations.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that you don’t need to be proficient in a language to help.  If you can read enough of a language to determine whether a paragraph matches the English one you are working on, you can simply copy and paste.  We will add an explanation of the process to http://userbase.kde.org/Translation_Workflow – which is started but will be expanded as questions are asked.  Meanwhile, if you can spare a few minutes at odd times there are some smaller tasks at http://userbase.kde.org/Translation_Workflow#Migration which, if done before migration starts, would greatly speed things up.
Come and talk to us on #kde-www.  Take the opportunity to find your way around the system, then join up when we announce the ‘Big Bang’ to migrate as many pages as possible in an agreed time-space.
Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , , ,

Happy Christmas, everyone

Happy Christmas, everyone.  Time enough for work in a few days 🙂

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

Open Source on my Doorstep

Reading my newest Linux Format I was delighted to hear that there is a project in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, that uses donated/recycled computers.  I live in West Yorkshire, but in the south-west corner, so Sheffield is a mere 40 minutes drive away.  Naturally I followed this up – an opportunity too good to miss.  If you live in the mid- to north of England, take a look at http://www.access-space.org/?c=recycling

I was curious to know more about the activities of Access Space – and amazed and delighted at what I saw there.  The most surprising thing was http://www.open-source-embroidery.org.uk/ !  The Html Patchwork, no less.  Every cell of the patchwork represents the hexadecimal colours, and every contributor gets web space to tell about their work and activities.  The resulting patchwork was displayed in Sweden this summer, but if you live in or near San Francisco you can see it during October to next January, at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art.

Then there’s LOSS – The Linux Open Source Sound project.  Electronica is not my kind of music, but I did sample a few tracks – they appear to all be Creative Commons licensed.  For a smile you really should listen to the Jake Harries -Eh? track.  The CD was recorded in 2006, but I did notice that at least one upload was in 2009, so presumably the project is still active.

Part III – coming shortly – has news about developments related to UserBase in particular and our wikis in general.

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , ,

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