L10n:Localizing a project

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The very first L10n project that our L10n teams take on is localizing Firefox. The beloved browser is usually the very thing that motivated them to join the L10n program. While it is an ambitious first project, the L10n teams are not alone. The L10n drivers work closely with these teams to help them overcome obstacles, answer their questions, and communicate development changes from the Firefox engineering team to them.

L10n drivers and L10n teams

We (the L10n drivers) are very invested in making sure that the L10n teams are successful. We do our best to provide the teams with the framework and resources necessary to localize Firefox and other Mozilla projects. The following are most of the ways in which we collaborate with the L10n teams:

  • Tools: We set forth the requirements for new and existing L10n tools. We also work through the technical aspects of L10n repositories and projects within web-based tools. Finally, we troubleshoot many of the issues that localizers find while using those tools for their work.
  • Guidance: More than anything, we're here to mentor the L10n teams and support their efforts. We help them see their successes and motivate them to accomplish with their goals.
  • Documentation: Through detailed and fun documentation, we instruct localizers on a variety of technical and process oriented issues.
  • Infrastructure: We set up and develop the foundational elements of each L10n project. This often involves many behind-the-scenes tasks that some localizers don't even realize are part of the L10n program.
  • Advocate: When working with other Mozilla teams, we try to represent the best interests of the localizers. When working with localizers, we also try to represent the mission and interests of Mozilla.

Localizing Firefox

As L10n teams establish themselves and localize their first project, most teams begin creating L10n assets that will assist them when translating future releases. These assets can include style guides, glossaries, termbases, and translation memories. An L10n team can increase their overall quality of work by standardizing their style and terms between projects and team members and leveraging this initial translation work in future projects. We highly recommend that all teams work to create and maintain these L10n assets.

We recommend that teams add their language packs to addons.mozilla.org (AMO) as the they progress with their first project. AMO offers many advantages for L10n teams, users, and testers, from download capacity to automatic updates of add-ons. This is a critical part of the process, as it lets users test the team's work is doing and provide feedback. It also lets them get an idea of how many potential users will download the official localized version of Firefox once it is complete.

Along the way, the L10n drivers will monitor each team's progress. As they reach various milestones, we will reach out to congratulate them for their efforts and offer guidance for getting their work approved for official release. We will also talk about making the L10n team's efforts sustainable within the product rapid release cycle. Here are some of the milestones we look for while a new team is in the beginning stages of localizing Firefox:

  • Activity on their Aurora project.
  • Growth in team membership numbers.
  • How vocal the team is in newsgroups, IRC, and email.
  • 20% project completion.
  • Language pack availability on AMO and # of downloads.
  • 80% project completion.

Productization & web parts

There's more to localizing Firefox than just translating English strings. Localization involves both translating strings and adapting Firefox to the L10n team's culture too. We do this through localizing in-product web pages, web parts, mozilla.org, and "productizing" Firefox appropriately. As a team nears the end of their translation work, we introduce them to a new tool: Verbatim.

Web parts

Verbatim is another web-based tool used to localize web content. This can include Firefox's in-product pages (such as about:home), web parts associated with Firefox, and mozilla.org pages. Like similar tools, Verbatim stores the team's work, provides dashboards for tracking projects, and pushes their work to live dev sites for testing. It is important to note that these pages are not generated as part of a language pack, which is partly why they are not localized until the product translation is nearing completion.


When we say productization, we are referring to a region's choice of default search engines, content and protocol handlers, bookmarks, and links to recommended sites on the in-product pages. This largely reflects the culture of a region and can be difficult to determine. When a team is nearing 100% project completion, we work very closely with the L10n team to help determine the best productization path for their region and culture.

It's worthwhile to note here that the L10n community plays a large role in recommending how to properly productize their work. The very best way to make these recommendations is to get input from the region's users as to what they use or want to use in their local language version.

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