In the Ubuntu community we always need more translators. There are literally thousands of applications out there that need to be translated, and one of the major reasons why people choose Ubuntu is that there is a huge catalog of software that is ready to install and use in their own language. These thousands of applications are translated by a large and growing community of volunteers who help to localising these applications. As the number of applications grows though, we need more and more volunteers.

Generally if someone expresses an interest in translating packages, we point them to Translations and away they go. Another great way to get people up to speed is with... Translation Jams!

With a huge world-wide network of LoCoTeams, more and more teams are running Translation Jams - special events in which people meet up and a few instructors show the attendees how to get involved with translating Ubuntu. Not only are these events extremely valuable in attracting new translators, but they are huge fun! This page offers a simple guide to running a Translation Jam. Smile :)


To run a Translation Jam, you will need a few things:

  • Tutor(s) - Someone with experience in translation who can handle questions, accept/review translations and some of the unexpected likely to come up. (The tutor needs to have experience with Launchpad Translations and the Ubuntu translations process.) In order to be able to review and accept translations suggestions, he/she must be a member of the translation group for his/her language.

  • Decided Day - A day with some spare time. As an example, the Michigan LoCo went from noon until 8pm on a Saturday. Progress will be slower than you might expect, so provide plenty of time.

  • Venue - A meeting location with:

    • Network connectivity - This might seem obvious, but you'll need network connectivity and a connection to the Internet if you are working with Launchpad.

    • Power outlets - Make sure that the venue has got enough mains connections to power everyone's laptops or ask them to bring their own adapters.

    • Enough room for everyone - Some room to get comfy for a little bit.

    • Projector (optional) - It can also be useful to run presentations for new contributors.

You might also want to provide some snacks and drinks to help people through their new translation journey.

Asking people to prepare for the Jam

There are a few things which those participating in the Jam can prepare beforehand. Here are some recommendations:

  • Tasks list: The tutor or the translation team might want to agree on a list of applications to translate before the jam, and put this list in the LoCo or the translation team's wiki.

  • Translation guidelines: If your translation team hasn't got translation guidelines, it might be a good idea to create some. You can do this beforehand or you can even use the jam to work together on creating them.

  • Background reading: Optionally, if you are new to translating, you might be interested in getting familiar with the tools and the technologies behind translations and translating Ubuntu in particular. There is a wealth of information to go through, so even if recommended, don't worry about reading it all before the Jam. There will be surely an experienced translator around who'll be able to answer your questions.

    • Translation guidelines: Again Smile :) If your translation team has got translation guidelines, it might be a good idea to ask participants to read and get familiar with them beforehand.

    • PO files: It might also be a good idea to understand a bit of the underlying technologies behind translation, so reading the gettext documentation, in particular the section on the format of PO files might also be useful.

    • Documentation: The documentation links in the tools and information section might also be a good introductory read to Ubuntu translations.

  • Communication: Even when working face to face it might be a good idea to use Etherpad to share notes and links.

Running the Session

Introduction Session

It might be a good idea to run a short presentation for new contributors, to explain them how Ubuntu translations and Launchpad work.

Here are some suggestions for things the tutor can explain in such a presentation:

  • Basic introduction to the format of PO files and the gettext tools
  • Online/offline translation
  • Relationship between Ubuntu (downstream) and upstream translations
  • Lifecycle of Ubuntu translations (import from upstream, translation in Launchpad, releasing translations in language packs, etc.). You can get some more information at Translations/TranslationLifecycle.

  • Difference between User/Published upload
  • Color meanings in the translation statistics in Launchpad


This will greatly depend on how your translation team works.

A suggestion would be for members of the translation group to sit next to new contributors and initiate them in the translation suggestion -> review -> translation approval process. The new contributor can do the translation suggestions and the translation team member can then review, approve or suggest changes to his/her translations.


Especially for the Global Jam in 2014 there are a few extra suggestions for tasks to work on:

  • Work on the shell, foundations and apps delivered on Ubuntu for Devices
    • Unity8
    • Indicators
    • CoreApps - Clock, Calendar, Calculator, Weather, Shorts, Dropping Letters, Sudoku

    • System Apps - Phone, Messaging, Browser, Camera, Gallery
  • Work on the default desktop & high visibility programs. These could e.g. be:

    • Unity (including lenses)
    • Unity indicators (named indicator-...)
    • Software center
    • Rhythmbox
    • Empathy
    • Shotwell
    • Nautilus
    • Ubiquity (including the slideshow)
    • Deja-dup
    • Activity Log Manager

Tools & Helpful Information

CategoryJam CategoryTranslations

Jams/Translations (last edited 2014-08-18 12:21:52 by popey)