Re: schema files

On 2003-07-11(Fri) 16:03:04 +0200, Christian Rose wrote:
> fre 2003-07-11 klockan 14.25 skrev
> > The release team has heard that lots of schema (gconf, I suppose) files
> > might be difficult to translate or somehow poorly internationalised, or
> > might have english text that should be rewritten. Could someone explain the
> > problem to us, with examples? Maybe we can then make the issue more widely
> > known.

Menthos has clearly stated most of the problems faced when translating
schemas; but there is one more. Sometimes, default values of gconf keys
are translatable too.

In a few cases, this is desirable, such as default URL for browsers,
where each locale may want different settings. However, this brings are
side effect, that the localized gconf key values may not be always valid.

For example, when AM/PM display format is available for translation
(valid values include "12" and "24" only), sometimes they are translated
as _locallized_ string of 12 or 24, which are invalid values, thus
confusing gconf.

There's no concensus on how to resolve it (AFAIK), and is open for


> To be clear on the terminology used here: schemas messages = all <short>
> and <long> descriptions (and possibly other tags) for gconf keys in
> schemas files that are marked for translation. A sample list should be
> provided in
> I don't remember off the top of my head any particular instances where
> schemas messages were just entirely impossible to translate correctly,
> i.e. pure localization problems. Instead almost all of the issues I
> myself have encountered are of the second kind, "English text that
> should be rewritten" due to being somehow badly written in the first
> place, and thus as a consequence causing more or less severe problems in
> the translation step.
> A large part of the problems can be divided into the following
> categories:
> 1) Consistency problems
> 2) Typos or in other ways incorrect language
> 3) Wrong terminology used
> 4) References to literal values not enclosed in double quotes
> 5) Outdated or plain wrong messages
> 1) is very common. It seems different contributors add schemas entries
> at different points in time, and often pay very little attention to how
> other schemas entries are written when doing that, causing schemas
> descriptions to be formulated vastly different in even the same files
> sometimes. It helps translators *a lot* if messages are always
> formulated the same way and made consistent. See below for some
> consistency guidelines. Example reports are #115680 and #114590.
> 2) is also very common - typos and grammar errors are almost the rule in
> some places. Many developers seem to (rightly IMHO) prioritize the
> quality of UI messages, and give schemas messages little to no attention
> of the same kind. But this on the other hand causes problems for
> translators, for whom there's little difference between UI messages and
> schemas messages - they are all translated in the same domain, so they
> all need to use the same proper terminology and be spellchecked for
> efficient translation. Example reports are #115693 and #115746.
> 3) is rather common in some places. In many applications, there's one
> terminology used in the UI and another one used in the code. Nothing
> wrong with that, but the problem is that when schemas messages are
> written, they sometimes use the terminology from the code. Translators
> then need to fiddle with two different sets of terminologies. Slang is
> also common. Example reports are #115570 and #113380.
> 4) is a not uncommon problem, both for translators and potentially also
> for users. In gconf keys, the possible values for keys are often literal
> strings, and they are listed in the messages, but not always enclosed in
> double quotes. Thus it can be hard to know that they are literal values,
> and the danger of accidental translation is very high. In other words,
> schemas messages sometimes look like this:
> 	'Possible values are on_top, left and right.'
> While they should be written:
> 	'Possible values are "on_top", "left" and "right".'
> Example reports are #100278 and #115743.
> 5) Sometimes the descriptions are not properly maintained, and stay the
> same even if the meaning of the key changes. Example report is #114584.
> A more or less de facto style seems to have developed for most schemas
> messages, and in the guidelines below I try to summarize those, all for
> the sake of consistency:
> a) All schemas descriptions should start with an uppercase letter.
> b) <short> descriptions should NOT end in a period.
> c) <long> descriptions SHOULD end in a period.
> d) Literal key values should always be enclosed in double quotes when
> referred to.
> e) Make the descriptions consistent with other descriptions in the same
> module.
> f) Use the same terminology as in the UI if possible. Specifically, do
> never use slang in the descriptions, and don't use terminology only used
> in the code if possible.
> g) Check the spelling of the messages.
> h) Don't use "If ..." but rather "Whether ...", if possible, as the
> start of <long> descriptions.
> i) Make sure you have both <short> and useful <long> descriptions for
> all keys, for the benefit of the users.
> j) Once in a while, make sure the descriptions are still valid(!)
> Christian
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> gnome-i18n mailing list

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