How come ownCloud is available in so many languages?
ownCloud has around 200 million users worldwide. One of the reasons to its widespread use is its availability in many languages. To get there, we internationalized ownCloud, abbreviated as i18n. This means that we actually built ownCloud so that it is easy to translate or localize, abbreviated as l10n and every single expression in the ownCloud interface, called a string, is available for translation in the Transifex platform.
Currently, there are 4,819 translators that localize ownCloud into more than 130 languages. When someone translates a string from the ownCloud interface into a language, designated reviewers check the translation to ensure the quality.
Of course, translations vary in their grade of completion. Not every string of the ownCloud interface is translated into every of these 130 languages (not yet – however, you can help change that 😉). With new ownCloud versions, new strings appear in Transifex, so even if a language has been translated to 100 %, that number will change again according to the localization activity.
Patrick Maier, Product Manager, ownCloud: „The collaboration with the Transifex community has been very fruitful over the last more than ten years of ownCloud and has brought a lot of value to our product. We are proud that there are so many volunteers that contribute beyond code or testing. The Transifex community has made it possible that ownCloud is accessible and usable by people all around the world, which of course makes a great portion of ownCloud’s success. We are very grateful, appreciate the work and hope that ownCloud brings at least the same value back to the community.“
Why get involved and translate?
There are many different reasons for engaging. Some ownCloud users simply like to give back. There are also users, who want to use ownCloud in their respective language and then they go and make that happen. Others look for some translation practice, or they are altruistic, enjoy helping people and being part of the community.
One exemplary contributor is Efstathios from Greece. He has been using ownCloud since version 1.2, so from the start. In the past, he translated ownCloud to Greek, gathering a community of like-minded contributors and even organizing translation events. As a result, he brought the Greek translation of ownCloud to nearly 100 % at one point. Since ownCloud is not static, it is now at about 95 %.
„I want to give back somehow“
Efstathios chose to provide translations as he was already an active translator to other open source projects. He wants to help more end-users to reap the benefits of using ownCloud. Also, he hopes to see more companies and the public sector adopt Open Source software such as ownCloud – and by making the Greek interface of ownCloud available, he does his part to achieve this.
Beyond individuals, there are also corporate contributors. Each year, the benefits and the logic behind Open Source become evident to more executives in businesses and public institutions all around the world. ownCloud provides secure productivity for organizations. While English is the closest thing to a lingua franca the world has, only a minority of the earth’s population actually speak it. Also, many people who speak English still prefer to use their mother tongue. Having ownCloud available in their staff’s languages can significantly boost productivity. Contributing to a translation through a platform like transifex speeds up translation because an organization does not have to start from scratch but can build on what is already translated by other members of the ownCloud community, reducing the effort for everyone involved.
Less legwork for admins
One particular group of contributors are IT admins. They usually speak English even when the staff at their organization does not. To make life easier for their users, these admins often contribute translations, which has the added benefit of reducing support tickets.
Greek translator Efstathios identifies two major hurdles that keep people from contributing: They often believe they need programming skills to contribute, and they think they don’t have the time. While the first one is easy to clear up, the second hurdle has some substance. For his part, Efstathios explains to potential contributors that he also has little free time – he actually translates to calm himself down when he’s on breaks or before going to sleep. Another positive side effect according to Efstathios is: „I got involved in open source back in 2006, I liked the whole community thing…Those contributions led me to meet new people, either online or in person. Meeting new tech people might lead to business opportunities in the future (you never know).“
How to contribute
If you want to join the ownCloud localization community, then you can read more about how to get started here: Add translations and help to localize owncloud!
We also want to thank each and every contributor and look forward to welcoming new translators in the community: THANK YOU, you make a huge impact on the accessibility of ownCloud!