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Launchpad Help > Translations > Starting to translate


You can use Launchpad to help translate free software, both directly with upstream projects, (such as Limewire), and also as packages in distributions such as Ubuntu.

When you're deciding what to translate, think about the following:

To learn about the processes and standards that a project applies to its translations, you should get in touch with the translation team that manages its localization into your language. Most projects work with a translation group - an umbrella organization of many teams - who look after translation quality control. Each translation group assigns teams to look after particular languages.

Note: You don't need to join that team in order to make translations: they exist to review translations.

You can find out which translation team to speak to by:

  1. checking which translation group is associated with the project - visit the project's translations overview page, e.g.

  2. visiting that translation group's overview page and reading its teams list.

Once you're in contact with the team, they'll tell you about their standards and how to stay in touch with them through mailing lists, IRC meetings and so on.

Licensing your translations

One of Launchpad's terms of use is that you agree to license all your translations using the BSD license. This means that the translations you make are compatible with as many open source licenses as possible. There's more on this in our translations licensing FAQ.

When to translate distribution packages

Ubuntu and other operating systems (distributions) use Launchpad to translate the software that they provide to their users. These distributions take work from upstream projects and modify it, usually in subtle ways, to make it suitable for their system and users.

Only when you understand the rules, standards, and complexities of translating that particular package and you know why the distribution translation needs to differ from the upstream one, should you translate a distribution's package of a project

If the software you want to translate is available to translate both directly as an upstream project (whether inside Launchpad or not) and as a distribution package within Launchpad, you should talk to the upstream project and the relevant Ubuntu translations team to see where your help is most needed.

If you choose to translate Ubuntu packages, you may find the Ubuntu community's guide to translating Ubuntu helpful.

Where to start


Translatable series for Wordpress

Once you've been in touch with the relevant translation team, to learn their standards etc, you can start translation straight away. You don't need any special software or, in most cases, special permissions: all you need are your Launchpad account, your web browser and your translation skills!

When you're ready to get started, you need to tell Launchpad which languages you want to work with. Next, choose:

Launchpad makes it easy to choose a distribution package by showing which packages are most in need of your help.


Esperanto translation progress of Ubuntu packages

Red represents untranslated strings, whereas green, purple and blue represent translated strings; Launchpad uses different colors for translated strings to help you distinguish where and when the translation was made.


Translation progress bar key

Making your first translation

Click on the package or project language that you want to translate and you'll see that each original English string has a section of the page. Let's take a look at the Esperanto translation of Ubuntu's ''xulrunner'' package.


Making a translation

In this example, you can see:

If you find a string that hasn't been translated or that you are certain has been translated incorrectly, you should

Dealing with unusual characters

In many cases, your translation will be a straight conversion from English to the target language. However, from time to time you may come across unusual characters and character sequences. These are usually variables, formatting or keyboard shortcuts.

How you handle them in your translation depends on what they are:

If you're unsure, speak to someone from the relevant translation team; they'll be glad to help.

Next steps

Read the general translation guidelines and know how to organize a localization team.

< Translations overview

General translation guidelines >

Translations/StartingToTranslate (last edited 2010-01-07 12:44:30 by KD121111057077)