REBOL Technologies

REBOL Internationalization (for built-in text strings)

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
18-Feb-2005 20:49 GMT

Article #0130
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Lately we have received a number of feedback messages requesting more internationalization of REBOL. With regard to the REBOL documentation, I made a few comments in my recent Documentation and Translation Plans article. But, what about text strings in the REBOL program itself?

There are a few areas of REBOL that would need to support such changes:

  1. Internal C strings (window menus, security request, crash errors, etc.)
  2. Internal REBOL strings (function docs, error messages, etc.)
  3. External strings (e.g. REBOL/View or IOS interfaces)

The second two are relatively easy, because users currently have access to those strings. It does not take much to patch REBOL strings with their translated equivalents. However, to properly support such translations, we would want to have a standard. We don't want to have five entirely different translations for say, the French language. That means that we would need to:

  • Collaborate on a standard translation for each language,
  • Provide a flag within REBOL to indicate the default language,
  • Provide an "automatic" update method to "activate" that language.

So, I think that is quite possible, and with the help of the REBOL community, it is realistic to believe that such a project could be accomplished within a short period of time. Some of you have already created the translations.

With regard to the internal C strings, I've been thinking about this for a while. My idea is to move 95% of those strings out of the C code and into a REBOL accessible object (still within the REBOL executable file). This allows them to be updated and replaced in the same way as other REBOL text strings (such as the existing error messages).

The other 5% of the strings are more difficult. For instance, although we can move the security requestor string to REBOL code, we cannot allow it to be modified because that would allow someone to change the wording on the security requests. That would be "bad".

To solve that problem, we will need to provide a "read only" area for these important strings, and the translations for them will need to be built into REBOL itself. I think that can be achieved for a selected set of languages because there are not that many strings that need to be changed.

So, I think the bigger question might really be this: can we find a few volunteers to help coordinate this effort? We need one person who can be a "manager of the REBOL translation project" and other people who can provide the translations themselves.

So, if you have some ideas on this topic, please contact me via the feedback link above.

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