Translation-Community Manager

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The Translation-Community Manager leads and co-ordinates the efforts of the Sugar community to enable users to experience Sugar in their own language.


Translation often refers to the specific task of providing text in a target language from the text in the source language. For software, this task is conventionally divided into two steps:

  • Internationalization (I10n)
Enable localization in the base software; and
  • Localization (L10n)
Provide local-language equivalents for text in the base software.

The base software for Sugar consists of two major components:

  • Sugar Desktop
The Sugar Desktop is part of a Fedora Remix. It provides the basic means for user interaction with Sugar. (Note that the Journal activity is a part of the Sugar Desktop.)
  • Sugar Activities
Sugar provides a library, ASLO (, of several hundred individual activities that a user can install and run. (Note that many Sugar activities can run independently from the Sugar Desktop, e.g., the GNOME Desktop, the Sugarizer environment, or in a web browser.)

Internationalization (I10n) prepares the Sugar Desktop and Sugar Activities for localization (L10n).

  • I18n
Sugar and its activities are primarily written in Python (although increasingly JavaScript is being used for activity development). I18n is supported by giving developers a means to identify text that can be displayed to the user. Alternate text can be provided in other languages than the original and the user can select an alternate language for Sugar and the activities to use in displaying this text.
Selecting an alternate language for Sugar requires other technical steps. The language must be visible in Sugar (in the Language Control Panel). Selecting the language needs to change other aspects of Sugar (e.g display right-left, handle '.' or ',' for decimals and grouping multiples of 1000, display of dates, and so on).
  • L10n
Sugarlabs provides a service hosted at that supports localization of Sugar. It is based on Pootle, a process and software to facilitate localization. In particular, it stores files with the original text for Sugar and its activities and files with the strings for local language
The overall process is fail-safe in the sense that if an alternate language is selected but there is no string available in that language, Sugar displays the original string found in the code (most often English). saves translated strings that are immediately available for use in subsequent releases, leaving localizers to provide strings for new text in the release. If that text is not provided, the original text is displayed.

User Environment

Sugar (Fedora Remix) is the software that supports the OLPC XO laptop. There have been about 2.5 million of these laptops manufactured and distributed. Many of these laptops are in daily use at schools and other institutions throughout the world. Typically, these laptops are used in a language of instruction (English, Spanish, French, ...). (The Remix is also on other hardware and is the basis of Sugar on a Stick, although no firm figures are available on how many learners use the Remix. There is also Debian support for the Sugar Desktop.)

At the schools using Sugar, many of the users communicate in a native language other than English. For example, in the Philippines, there are two official languages: Filipino (Tagalog) and English. While users can take advantage of Sugar and the laptops in English, they would enjoy an opportunity to use them in Filipino. In addition, there are indigenous languages spoken by some of the users. Making the Sugar experience available in these languages is typical of the localization opportunities for Sugar.

In most cases localization is done by language specialists under the umbrella of Pootle ( This process requires technical skills and effective access to the internet.

Translation requires language skills in the target language and the source language (e.g. English, Spanish, French). If possible, I18n and specific language help arranged by the Translation-Community Manager should enable Sugar users to perform this localization on their own laptops. The installation or updating of the localization on should be arranged by the Translation-Community Manager. (Also, providing a common intermediary language, such as Spanish, when translating to an indigenous language, such as Aymara, falls under the responsibility of the Translation-Community Manager: there are many more Aymara speakers who know Spanish than English.)

Software Environment

Change is an essential feature of computer use. Platforms change. Sugar is faced with some immediate tasks relating to this change:

  • Touch screen replacing trackpad and mouse keys, and, often, the keyboard;
  • Move to Android and Web sevrices, which do not directly support Python;
  • Developer focus on HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript as an implementation environment for activities (and the Sugar experience itself).


The Translation-Community Manager, reporting to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board, is responsible to lead the community in supporting its goal to provide the Sugar experience in the users native language. The Translation-Community Manager will:

  • Work with the community to recruit volunteer help in supporting the translation process (occasional professional services to seed L10n efforts may be contracted as well.);
  • Advise the Sugar Labs Oversight Board of supporting projects that need funding and to manage these projects, if approved;
  • Develop and maintain the I18n capabilities of Sugar and its activities;
    1. Arrange for development and maintenance of the I18n infrastructure such as;
    2. Arrange for an inventory of Sugar activities in ASLO ( showing the current I18n and L10n status of each;
    3. Arrange for development and maintenance of I18n infrastructure to support new and emerging platforms and software environments for Sugar;
  • Work with the community to identify schools and institutions that have deployed Sugar and to arrange for members of the community to reach out to these deployments to offer help with localization or other needs;
    1. Arrange as needed to add a language to those with I18n support in Sugar and Sugar activities;
    2. Arrange for a simple and well-documented procedure for these deployments to provide their own translation and to share the results with the community;
  • Report monthly to the Sugar Labs Oversight Board and to the community and to the public on the status of the translations program, preferably by blogging informally (blog posts can be any length) to using plain language that is understandable to almost all.
  • Report every 4 months on tactical/strategic/financial choices; reports can be of any length and should be posted/archived together to a unique URL (linked from one month prior to the completion of each 4-month cycle, mentioning:
    1. What actually happened over current 4-month cycle and/or since the last report, including community/financial summaries (absolutely fine and no shame at all if actions were different from prior cycle's projections: we learn by doing or we don't learn at all!)
    2. What can and should happen over the coming 4-month cycle? Community workflows are never 100% rational: how do we tactically nurture continuous improvement?
    3. Long-term strategic/impact recommendations on an annual basis. Or optionally more often, if he/she is so inclined.

The Board must affirm continuation or renewal of the contract before the end of each 4-month cycle. This last part is largely a rubber-stamp, as the expectation is that the contract should renew, insofar as funds allow while the translation community strengthens -- but at the same time it is an absolutely critical check and balance (Dead Man's Switch) to keep us each & all conscientiously engaged, accountable, and involved!