JSFoo 2013

All about being creative with JavaScript

Sucheta Ghoshal


Your webapps should talk not just in English, but in español, Kiswahili, 廣州話 and অসমীয়া too.

Submitted Aug 24, 2013

To help web developers understand what localization is and why it is important. In this talk I will:

  • Explain how MediaWiki / Wikipedia - arguably the biggest and most localized projects on the internet - handles internationalization

  • Explain how you can do it for your own apps, via jQuery.i18n (or other frameworks)

  • Explain TranslateWiki.net, a place for Free and Open Source projects to get their strings translated


Imagine being plopped in the middle of a busy Rome, 2000 years ago (or Beijing, 1000 years from now). Everyone is busy, there are a lot of things happening around you - except, you have no idea what. The signs make no sense to you. You are lost - you do not understand the language, and hence can not do much.

That is how the internet is to people who do not understand English.

As web developers, we can make this better. By localizing our application to multiple languages, and offering users a way to pick their preferred language. This used to be the realm of gettext and .po files and asking translators to understand svn - but not anymore! There are plenty of i18n libraries for JavaScript to choose from, and plenty of support systems too.

This talk will cover i18n systems by picking a popular one - jquery.i18n + TranslateWiki.net, which is used by Wikipedia (and all other Wikimedia sites). We’ll pick up a trivial JS application and i18nize it.

The talk will start by covering the basics - messages in different languages and loading the appropriate one when your application is running. Then some other things that people don’t notice at first - plurals, genders, number formatting. Also talk about how i18n is something you should bake into your app from day 0, not something you can ‘bolt on’ as a layer of polish.

You probably know just a few languages, and people would need to translate your UI messages to other languages. translatewiki.net is a service for Open Source Projects that will do this for free. We’ll talk about how you can get your project up on translatewiki.net - or if it is not open source, what other ways you can use to get them translated.


Understanding of basic JavaScript and jQuery.

Speaker bio

Sucheta Ghoshal has been engaged with MediaWiki development for a long time now - writes code for Wikipedia mostly in JavaScript and PHP. She was also an OPW intern with Wikimedia Foundation and worked on developing a collaborative editor for our beloved Wikipedia. She recently got more involved with the Language Engineering Team of Wikimedia Foundation - volunteering, writing code and getting inspired, everyday, a little bit more.

Sucheta is doing her graduation in Computer Science and Technology in West Bengal University of Technology. She has been an Open Source enthusiast since high school. Loves to do a lot of stuff. Loves to feel the power that one learner has right now. There are a fair number of people who have already risked their lives and let her talk at their conferences and workshops - GNUnify, Open Source Bridge 2013 being the recent ones. They have survived well and good.


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