It’s been on of the most hectic months for me in my time at Mozilla in preparing for the browser choice screen. Johnath provided the details of our submission to Microsoft for the browser choice screen itself (browserchoice.eu), but I wanted to provide an update and a big thanks to everyone who has helped us get off the ground.
Microsoft asked us to provide a product description in 140 characters in 23 languages. Now, I find it hard to sum up Firefox in a tweet, but we needed to. A big thanks to both Jenny Boriss and James Hopkins at Critical Research for helping us figure out what we felt we needed to cover. Being Mozilla, of course, we wanted to provide more than 23 languages – we felt that there are more like 33 languages widely used in the European Economic Area (plus Croatia and Switzerland, where the browser choice screen is also available), but for now, 23 seems to be the limit.
We also wanted to create a specific “learn more” page for people using the browser choice screen – people who might not have installed much software for themselves in the past, and who specifically wanted more details on Firefox. For this reason, I felt we should have a slimmed down version of the Firefox pages that we have on Mozilla-Europe.org and Mozilla.com today, and give people a chance to really make it specific for their country. Here is where I was pretty much overwhelmed by the localisation community at Mozilla. In just a couple of days, we have had 27 localisations of our “learn more” screen.
A huge effort and thanks to all who took part:
- Basque: Julen Ruiz Aizpuru
- Bulgarian : Ognyan Kulev, Mihail Chilyashev, Pavel Peev
- Catalan: Toni Hermoso Pulido, Eduard Gamonal
- Croatian: Sasa Tekovic
- Czech: Pavel Cvrcek
- Danish: Jesper Kristensen, Søren Munk Skrøder
- Dutch: Tim Maks van den Broek, Wim Benes, Ton Kessen, Laurens Holst, Mark Heijl, Ben Branders
- Estonian: Merike Sell, Otto de Voogd, Sander Lepik
- Finnish: Jussi Bergström
- French: Cédric Corazza, Goofy, Jean-Bernard Marcon, Philippe Dessante, Nicosmos, Alexandre Lissy, Benoit Leseul, Céline Demange, Daniel Schroeter
- Frisian: Wim Benes (again)
- Gaelic: Kevin P. Scannell
- German: Archaeopteryx, Robert Kaiser, Michael ‘Coce’ Köhle, Kadir Topal (now a Mozilla employee – congratulations!)
- Greek: George Fiotakis, Kostas Papadima
- Hungarian: Kalman Kemenczy
- Icelandic: Kristján Bjarni Guðmundsson
- Italian: Francesco Lodolo, Giuliano Masseroni
- Latvian: Raivis Dejus
- Lithuanian: Rimas Kudelis
- Norwegian: Ronny Vårdal, Håvard Mork and Bjørn Ivar Svindseth for Nynorsk
- Polish: Leszek Zyczkowski, Hubert Gajewski, Marek Stępień, Staś Małolepszy, Stefan Plewako and Gandalf
- Portugese: Carlos Simao, Sérgio Parreira
- Romanian: Alexandru Szasz
- Russian: Alexander L. Slovesnik
- Slovak: Vlado Valastiak
- Slovene: Brian King, Matjaž Horvat, Vito Smolej
- Spanish: Ricardo Palomares, Nukeador, Guillermo López
- Swedish: Markus Amalthea Magnuson, Hasse Wallanger
- Turkish: Rail Aliev
- Welsh: Rhoslyn Prys
and I think that Welsh, Galician, Turkish and Basque are all underway too. I think this is a great illustration of Mozilla’s raison d’etre. It is not the case that we have to have every language under the sun represented in the browser choice screen, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be the case that software, or the coroporations who produce it, should define which languages are and which are not on the web. These are important cultural and social artefacts. While there is a community that demands access for this language, it is our job to try to facilitate it.
So, from the 23 languages that Microsoft allow on browserchoice.eu, we still wish to route users to other locales that they might be using. I would especially like to call to attention Alex Buchanan for his great efforts in making this a reality. Right now, if you use Internet Explorer with, for example, Catalan as your prefered language, and you click on “Tell me more” from browserchoice.eu, you will get more information (and access to a Firefox binary) in Catalan.
Toni called me attention to a deeper problem here, namely that the language packs for many of the lesser-spoken languages in Europe do not modify the user’s IE language preference. Although we don’t have a single fix for that, I know that Pascal is looking into a few approache. Watch this space. Also, we are aware that browserchoice.eu is not very helpful for blind web-users. We will do what we can to address this, at least in our content downstream.
Alongside all of the people who have contributed localisations for this project (and if I forgot anyone, please give me a hard time in comments), I would also like to thank some of the other people behind the scenes at Mozilla that made this project happen. Staś Małolepszy is a geniune superstar and his incredible diligence prevented those of us less blessed from making bigger and more permanent mistakes. Stephen Donner, for helping me understand a pair-wise test case from a hole in the ground, Kev Needham for his ability to spin Firefox builds like turntables, John O’Duinn and Matthew Zeier and their teams for springing into action and Tomcat, well, just for being Tomcat.
And we might all thank Chris Mullaney at Microsoft for coordinating getting content from Mozilla into browserchoice.eu, (and for her gentle way of pointing out obvious typos). It may be an obvious point, but Windows has been the platform on which the vast majority of people have experienced computing and have experienced the web. Whatever we might think and say about Microsoft (and there have been some pretty interesting things written this week), Windows is a platform that seen a vast ecosystem of software, both Free and non-Free developed for it, and its legacy of backwards compatibility on an incredible range of hardware is one of the wonders of modern computing. Let us hope that Microsoft also finds embracing more choice benefits the Windows platform too.
Update 12/3/10: as Laurens commented, there were a number of people who contributed translations to the text on the browserchoice.eu screen. Although this is only 140 characters, this is a difficult task, interpreting an English text and making it fit. I have attempted to all all the names of those involved to the list above. Thanks again.