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When building a multilingual Web site with Joomla! 1.5.x, one often requires to translate language files used by Joomla! core, components, modules, plugins and templates into various languages. While it's not difficult to open the original language file and the translation language file side-by-side and do the translation, it's a rather tedious work to compare those files to figure out the changes. Also, when you have a whole set of language files to be translated, how can you be sure all of the translations have been completed without checking each file?

Luckily there is an administrator backend compenent called Translation Manager can help with all those problems. In this article we will present a brief introduction to this handy component.

Installation

The latest version of Translation Manager, v1.5.1, was released more than one year ago in Feb. 2008. It can be found at its page on extensions.joomla.org. You will see download link that directs you to a joomlacode.org page. Translation Manager was built as an administrator component, so the installation is as simple as any other Joomla! components.

If your administrator backend uses Traditional Chinese as the language, you may choose to download a Traditional Chinese language file for Translation Manager at the Joomla! Taiwan forum. Just extract the archive into your Joomla! installation directory.

Configuration

After installation, you may want to inspect the configuration options provided by Translation Manager. To access Translation Manager, you have to sign into the administrator backend, and from the top menu select Components -> Translation Manager. On the Translation Manager page, click the Parameters button on the tool bar to get the configuration screen.

Some of the setting are rather interesting. For instance, there is a setting that activates the feature automatically searches and replaces phrases identical to the one you just changed. This in some cases can be used to ensure your translations consistent. One important setting is the Reference Language. It lets you choose the language on which your translations will be based.

Configuration Screen

Feel free to move your mouse pointer around to see tooltips for the available settings.


Language Sets

The first page you land on when you access Translation Manager shows a list of language sets have already installed in your Joomla! installation. It provides overview information on each language set. Most of the information are retrieved from the language set's XML file. It also displays the number of files included in the set.

Translation Manager

To edit the information of a specific language set, you just click the selection circle on the left and then click the Edit button on the tool bar. On the page you can also delete a language set or create a new language set.

Occasionally you may want to switch the default language Joomla! uses to check the output of your translation. To make this switching easier, Translation Manager allows you to make the change without going back to Joomla!'s Language Manager.

Language Files

Each language set consists of a collection of language files. To manage those files, you first select a language set and then click the View Files button. This will bring you to the Language Files page.

Language Files

This page provides you many useful information to assess the progress and status of your translation. You can quickly glean what percentage of the translation for a file has been completed and how many phrases still have to be translated.

Sometimes there are language files not in your reference language anymore but still in the translation language. On the other hand, there may be language files in your reference language but not created in the translation language. The Language FIles page will indicate either case with an appropraiate icon.

Operations, such as deletion, changing publish state and creating new file, can be performed on this screen. The process of doing translation will be introduced in more details later.

Once again, the tooltips are your friends when you first use Translation Manager. If any information is not clear to you, try move the mouse pointer over to see the explanatory tooltip.


Translation

The main purpose of this component is to assist translations. To translate a specific language file, you simply click on the file or check the box next to the file and then click on the Edit button when at the Language Files screen. 

Translation screen

The first part of the translation screen shows the informtion regarding the translation file including language name, filename, version, author and others. Those values are parsed from the comments at the beginning of the file.

Unfortunately there is no standard format for those information fields, and some language files don't even contain any of them. Therefore, in quite a few cases, you may see them containing unintelligible values. The remedy is to manually edit those language files adding comments at the top of the files using the same format utililized in Joomla! Core language files.

The reset of the page shows all the phrases in the language file to be translated. The left side of each line is the original phrase in the corresponding reference file, and the right side is a text field for you to enter the proper translation for that phrase. Any translation fields color coded red indicate the translation is identical to the original text. This makes identifying phrases needed to be translated very easy.

For some language files you may see sections of phrases. This happends when comments are used in the language file to orginized phraes into different sections. Sometimes there is one last section at the bottom of the page with translation fields color coded green. This section collects all the phrases exist in the translation file but not in the reference file. Often that means those phrases were removed from the reference language file.

If there are phrases shouldn't be translated, but you want to treat the file as completely translated, you can go back to the Details section and check the Mark this Translation File as complete box.

Finally one helpful feature of this component is the reminder asking you to save your work every five minutes.


Installation Package

Once you finish all the translations for a specific language, you can click on the Languages button at the Language Files page to go back to Translation Manager screen. This is where you can pack all the translation language files into an installation package for distribution or deployment.

The process of creating an installation package couldn't be more easier with Translation Manager. You only have to select the circle next to the language set you want and then click on the Package button. A compressed language pack will be generated in the folder as specified in the settings.

You can download the created language pack, and use Joomla!'s installation tool to install it on other Joomla! sites you build.

Conclusion

There are a few bones can be picked with this great component. The first is mentioned earlier regarding the parsing of detail information from comments. Understandably it is difficult to guess information from comments, but it should at least not mix up phrases with comments.

The creation of an installation package always include all the language files in the set. There are situations when you'd like to exclude certain files from the pack. Unfortunately for now you will have to manually edit the compressed file and the XML script.

When translating a large language file, you might get annoyed having to scroll down to find the phrases required translation. It may be helpful if there is an option to hide already translated phrases to make it more manageable.

Translation Manager component proves to be a valuable tool for building a multilingual Web site. While Joom!Fish facilitates translation of site contents, Translation Manager makes translating static texts used in core, components, modules, plugings and templates a more enjoyable task. Highly recommended to anyone building multilingual Web sites.

 

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