Lost in Translation

In July, we announced that we were moving all our translations to GlotPress– a big step towards improving our localization and empowering our international users. Last month, we followed the WordPress community’s lead and moved the translations for our free plugin, The Events Calendar, to translate.wordpress.org.

We realize that two moves in the span of a few months could be frustrating or confusing for our users. So we wanted to take some time to explain what went into this decision and what it means for the future.

2015: The Year of the Translation

Since we planned our roadmap last year, we knew we wanted to prioritize localization features during our 2015 development work. More and more of our users are outside of North America, and we wanted to respond to that change in demographic. With that in mind, we added time zone support and improved compatibility with WPML.

The biggest change for the team was our move to GlotPress for managing plugin translations. Previously, we’d accepted translations from volunteers via our forum, and then (after testing the submissions) manually added the new files to each plugin’s /lang folder, to be available in the next release.

As the number of people using translations grew, it became clear that we needed a system that was easier for both our team and our users. GlotPress is the perfect solution- it gave us a centralized place for all our translations and made it easier for volunteers to contribute, whether a single string update or a new full translation. We deputized several of our long-time translators as validators, which meant that we had native speakers approving new translations. Additionally, it became easier for folks to download the very latest translations, without having to wait for the next release. Perhaps best of all, all of our translations were organized on the nifty new translations.theeventscalendar.com.

WordPress.org announces language packs for plugins

After several months of enjoying our new GlotPress site, WordPress.org announced that they were extending their language pack service to WP plugins. This service is also run using GlotPress, but with translations for all plugins gathered at translate.wordpress.org.

Managing the translations for The Events Calendar via translate.wordpress.org means enjoying many of the same handy features from our original GlotPress site. Users can make and update translations via their browser, and translations are easily downloadable.

However, some aspects of this system are not so advantageous for our users. For one, using this new system separates the translations for our core plugin (The Events Calendar) from our premium plugins (Events Calendar PRO, Community Events, etc.). While WordPress.org’s system is meant to be used by all free WP plugins, it’s extremely unlikely to ever include premium plugins. Thus, premium users will need to download translations from two different places in order to get a fully translated site.

The other disadvantage to moving the TEC translations is that our team is no longer able to approve submitted strings. With our original GlotPress set-up, members of our support team or one of our approved validators could approve a new or updated string within the plugin. We reviewed submitted changes regularly so translators didn’t have to wait long to see their work added to the official translation.

With the WordPress.org-based system, only official Translation Editors can approve strings. This means that when one of our users submits a change, we are not able to review or approve it. The user must wait until a Translation Editor from their language’s WordPress.org translation team can approve the change.

Tough Choices

We strive to make our plugin straightforward to use, while still being full of great features. We liked having a simple, centralized translation site and being able to quickly approve submitted translation changes. However, we also want to be an upstanding member of the WordPress community. This is the way that WP translations are moving, and we want to adapt alongside.

Ultimately we decided to move the translations for The Events Calendar to the new set up at translate.wordpress.org. We rolled out a new knowledgebase article to help guide users to the new location for TEC translations and (hopefully) prevent confusion over the two translation systems. This blog post will hopefully provide transparency and explanation for all the recent changes.

We’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our translators who have helped us make our Events plugins available to a wider world of users. And thank you to the hard working folks at WordPress.org for their work to improve and expand our favorite open-source platform. We will continue our efforts to add value and compatibility to our plugins- and keep our users informed of our decisions along the way.