These past days I was contacted by several leads of native-language teams of OpenOffice.org who asked me this question: How can we start to work on the localization of LibreOffice?
The answer is very easy, but it might not be that easy for ever. Let me explain: Right now you can essentially use your translation files from the OpenOffice.org’s Pootle server to work on LibreOffice: we use Pootle too, and the software still does not have too much difference for localizers (It does though, please check out our localization mailing list). But let’s do like Lewis Carroll’s March Hare and “start at the beginning”:
The usual process on OpenOffice.org would start by posting a proposal on the native-language list or localization list, introducing yourself, your team and your language. There would usually be an automatic approval, and then you would have to create an username on the infamous Collabnet’s online infrastructure, provide that username, wait for (it used to be me or anyone with the title of Community Manager in charge) someone to file an issue in the internel issue tracker requesting the administrators (distinct from the community) to consider your application, upload your SSH2 keys (but beware, these are no simple SSH keys, never lose them!), sign the Copyright Agreement with your blood, send it with some hair of yours, scan your fingerprint and fax the whole thing to an address in California that could very much be one of the possible entrances of the Area-51. Once you had done that, you needed to wait, usually for 4 weeks in order to have the right to wait some more. Then, the imprimatur from the powers that be usually were descending upon you and it was possible to start working on code, the website, etc.
The way we do this with LibreOffice is completely different. Just show up on the Localization mailing list, say hi, request a Pootle access, someone will answer to you usually in less than 36 hours and you’re set. No copyright agreement, no oath to be taken, no specific checking on your criminal antecedents. If you want to contribute, you can be all set in less than 2 hours.
Because of the history of LibreOffice and its relationship to the OpenOffice.org project, but even more so because the greatest majority of the worldwide communities of OpenOffice.org supported the Document Foundation from day one, we felt however that the existing native-language and localization teams had to be given the priority over potential newcomers. That’s indeed the case except if we know that an existing OpenOffice.org team has been orphaned or inactive for some time and that there’s really nobody showing up in either project. At this stage, and to my knowledge, almost everyone who now contributes localization work to LibreOffice used to be or is a localizer of OpenOffice.org . As usual there are exceptions. The trouble several teams had with LibreOffice for the first two months is that there was simply no localization tool or infrastructure available. Right now things are still moving, but we do use Pootle and you can contribute localization work to LibreOffice now. Understand, however, that there will be growing differences in our methods and our software; but the good thing is, that you can take part in the development of localization processes (and many other things) now, by discussing options and contributing patches, bugs, ideas, etc.
Last but not least I would like to thank all of the localization and native-language teams who have joined us since the beginning of the fantastic adventure of the Document Foundation. We are grateful for your support, and we look forward working with you for a very, very long time.
Happy New Year 2011!