languages and translation

Thoughts on Translating the WooCommerce Plugin

Last year on a podcast host Abha Thakor had a chat with three Woo builders as they shared their stories around translation, meetups and sustainability. It’s great to reflect on past conversations as we need to keep these important elements of WooCommerce moving forward.

Translating WooCommerce as a plugin into your local language

When it comes to the WooCommerce plugin, there are thoughts around the importance of translating it into local languages. For example, Simon Kraft from Germany weighed in on this.

He started by stating that WooCommerce is similar to WordPress and any WordPress plugins because people often find their way around English strengths since English is the default in WooCommerce and many other plugins. But in cases like eCommerce, it’s very important to have that in your local language. This helps any user or developer to understand what you’re doing and find your way around a shop or a website. Luckily with WordPress there is a large community of volunteers pledging their time to translating enormous numbers of text to their local languages.

Translations in German

When it comes to Simon’s native language, German, he noted that they are a bit picky with having strange language strings in their websites and WooCommerce shops are no exception to that. Years ago when he started translating WooCommerce, he would find wrong or misleading translation, something that was translated with some automated software like Google Translate, but was not precisely on point in German. At that point he thought, “Hmm, we can do better than that.” So Simon moved over to the translation side of things and tried to fix it and not break stuff on my way there.

Getting started on translating the WooCommerce plugin

Vachan from India added how he started translating WooCommerce and how others can start. It started with his team and wanting to help the community. As a project translator the simplest way to do this is to go to the translation page on the WordPress official website. There you will be able to easily find what interests you in translation. Just select your language and you can select which project you want to work on. For WooCommerce, once you have chosen your language, search for it. There you will find a complete front end system where you can see what has been translated and what is pending.

In most cases, there are two primary places where you can help contribute to the translation. The first is the stable version, which is actually live and people are using it. Secondly, there’s a trunk, which is the future release, the immediate future release. Both are equally important because the current version helps whoever is already installed and working on that to ensure it gets updated whenever the user updates their website. And of course, the trunk is for the future release.

He goes on to say that working in both is a good idea. It’s about your fluency and how comfortable you are picking up any language. If you feel you’re confident enough to take any language, you can explore it. See what words, which phrases are requiring any translation and you can suggest that translation. And it’s as simple as just filling up that simple clicking on the word, clicking on that phrase and just in inputting your translated reply. That’s it.

Do you need to be a WooCommerce developer?

Vachan does not feel you need to be a developer. You just need to understand WooCommerce enough and have used it. It’ll help you because you understand where that phrase is being used. Because in some languages, what happens with the same word could mean something differently, such as a different context. So just being aware of the context is a good thing. You don’t have to be an expert in development as there isn’t any coding language required. It’s just the language you know. And understanding the context of where that phrase is going to get used in the software is important.

Challenges of translation

Everyone on the podcast gave a bit of insight to the challenges not only met with WooCommerce translations, but WordPress as well. Maja gave one example of translating a certain term like tab or field. Once this is done and you translate to a new deposit, this word in the glossary. For instance, if the tab is being translated into my language, if you go and Google that word in my language, you will not find anything actually that explains how to solve your problem. So it would be great if there would be a visual supporting articles explaining this or expanding on the glossary.

Simon, when revisiting translating German, added that here are cases where stuff like that happens. In German, it’s not so bad because German and English are quite close to a certain degree. The main issue with German is that German words are very long in many cases. Because in German it’s grammatically sane to just chain words and have like donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftsmützenfabrikant. That’s a valid word. It’s about a hat for a sea captain.

So in many, many cases, it’s actually an issue to find a translation that fits the context. For example, you have a button somewhere and the button cannot be huge. So you have to find a fitting word that meets the context. That’s hard sometimes.

When it comes to WooCommerce or any eCommerce context, translating with localizing the currency is important. WooCommerce, which is America-focused in many cases, we have examples in U.S. Dollars and similar currencies, which is perfectly fine. But if we translated for the German or European market, then we would replace those examples with Euros or Pound or whatever.

Final Thoughts

The overall conversation carried a theme as first mentioned. It is important for WooCommerce builders, who have the resources and capabilities, to get involved with helping to translate the WooCommerce plugin. From what I have seen, the growth of Woo is building in countries across the world and here at Do the Woo we want to help you to bring your translating skills to help that growth.

Again, you can listen to or read the full transcript here of the episode Stories of Translation, Community and Sustainability with Vachan, Maja and Simon

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One Comment

  1. Spot on post as usual, truly like your combo of information density with a juicy writing style! I am a DevOps Engineer and this helped me alot!

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