Impossibles take just a little bit more time: The Umoja Project – A Swahili Translation Community effort

Lately we have been having a lot of talk about community… We all know that Community is something that is hard to define but wonderful to experience, right?

One of the strengths of Free Software is that you can always translate it to any language you want, but wanting is not enough. Transaltions need a lot of effort, planning, hard work and focus.

Since September last year I have been working in the creation of a Swahili translation project sponsored, among others, by my company.

Previous experiences showed us that such a project should take a community approach in order to succeed. We all remember the Jambo Firefox and OpenOffice.Org by the Kilinux team, winners of the Stockholm Challenge Awards 2006. After they made the first round of releases (2005/2006) no real progress has been made.

I quickly realized that a community project had to be formed and I am glad to announ that the plan has gone better than planned! I have to say that this has been by far one of the most exciting and eventful projects I have ever been involved with.

What we have done this far:

  • 2008-11-24 Contacted the Ubuntu Mozilla team for advice on FF3 translation. Wrote to Axel and Seth from Mozilla.
  • 2008-12-01 Mailed with Håvard (Norwegian translation Mozilla guy). He is willing to help us with technical issues related to translations and upstream pushing of them.
  • 2008-12-02 Met the Norwegian OOO coordinator: Axel B. He adviced us on how to proceed with general translations guidelines regarding Kiswahili translations for OpenOffice and KDE specifically.
  • 2008-12-04 Meeting with Og Maciel – Launchpad dropped for translations in order to better cooperate with upstream (Mozilla and OOO)

  • 2008-12-08 – 2008-12-10 Emanuel (FreeCode and Tanzania LUG) Rubén (FreeCode and Ubuntu Community), Alberto (IT+46) meet in Oslo to discuss and design a community based strategy for Firefox Translation. Alberto is the contact person for Swahili Translation in both Mozilla and OOO teams.
  • 2008-12-10 Internal alpha release. Files imported form 1.x release
  • 2008-12-12 – 2009-01-05 Transaltion of new strings intiated in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. We achieved a translation of over 80% of all Mozilla Firefox and XUL strings
  • 2009-01-05 First public alpha release
  • 2009-02-12 Preliminary Roadmap for Swahili OOO translation – we are targeting the 3.2 release
  • 2009-02-12 Meeting between Umoja prject team members and SUN Microsystems. Sun is positive to our project and willing to help us allowing some exposure of the project and contact within the Sun OOO/StarOffice team
  • 2009-03-28 First public beta release
  • 2009-03-29 Second public beta release – testing
  • 2009-04-01 Presentation of the Umoja Project under an event of ANLoc (The African network for Localization) in Cairo, Egypt

The road ahead:

  • 2009-04-15 Swahili lLanguage package (XPI) to be released together with the Mozilla Firefox 3.5 release
  • 2009-04-15 Presentation of the Umoja Project under Community ONE North in Oslo, Norway: ”’The Firefox and OpenOffice.Org African experience”’ by Alberto Escudero Pascual, IT +46 and Emanuel Feruzi, FreeCode Int & Tanzania LUG

  • 2009-04-16 and 2009-04-17 Presentation of the Umoja Project under the GoOpen conference in Oslo, Norway

  • 2008-04-15 – 2008-04-18 IT46/FC/Tanzania LUG meet in Oslo to finalize a roadmap for a community based strategy for OpenOffice.Org Translation to target the 3.2 release or later

We have a wiki page in the Ubuntu wiki for people interest in joining the team and helping out!

I would like to thank everyone that has been involved in this project and has made it possible in one way or another. There’s no doubt that cooperation in a community context is the way for free software!

~ by huayra on 2009 April 4.

3 Responses to “Impossibles take just a little bit more time: The Umoja Project – A Swahili Translation Community effort”

  1. […] I will be introducing some speech holders. * FreeCode Int and IT+46 will have a joint presentation: The Umoja Project – A Swahili translation community effort showing the Firefox and OpenOffice.Org experience as […]

  2. Hi? Am ANTHONY KABUE, am a native Swahili speaker and a translator and I would like to know if I can be of service to your project.
    you can write to me on for more details.

  3. […] working with the Umoja project, Emanuel, the technical lead was just amazed at how fast we could download Ubuntu. In Tanzania the […]

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