TranslateSvg: what’s it for?

Public domain map of South Sudan (click for more details)

As my Google Summer of Code project progresses, I realise that I haven’t got any blog posts actually explaining what TranslateSvg is for. Thus, I thought I should at least give one example (there are many I could have picked from) to illustrate the point, so here goes.

On 9 July 2011, South Sudan declared independence. A year on, 142 Wikipedias have created some sort of entry about it, many of them during the initial buzz. I haven’t checked, but I suspect a high proportion haven’t really been edited since.

Several months before, an Italian Wikimedian created a map showing the likely borders of the new nation and its proposed state boundaries. Sometimes with the aid of an existing tool, that map was then translated into other languages, among them English, Greek, Catalan and even Macedonian. These copies were then uploaded onto Wikimedia Commons as separate files.

So far, so good. But South Sudan is a state in its infancy. It has numerous boundary disputes ongoing, and no-one really knows if the state boundaries have been drawn in the ideal places. Thus, one would expect the map to change significantly over the next decade – if it has not changed already. More often than not, these kinds of change are picked up first by editors of the larger projects, who rapidly update their own versions of the map. To do so takes, say, 20 minutes; but to replicate that same change across Catalan, Greek, Macedonian? Hours of work – and dozens of separate uploads. So, editors being volunteers and all that, they tend to only update the language(s) they care about. Unfortunately, this means that image versions can become horribly out of sync, normally to the disadvantage of the smaller wikis.

TranslateSvg changes this workflow, firstly by making it easier to translate files (thus reducing the all-too-common sight of English-language diagrams in use on non-English wikis), and secondly by embedding the new translations within the same SVG file. Thus, when boundaries change, a single update will propagate to all language versions instantly (if you’re worried about how Inkscape handles these, don’t be: you’ll simply see one set of translations on the screen at any one time, and you can even move that label around, thus nudging labels in every language at the same time).

I think that’s pretty nifty, and I hope you do too 🙂

2 thoughts on “TranslateSvg: what’s it for?”

  1. In my opinion, I think this will be the most useful gsoc project this year (as well as the most useful if you include last years projects too)

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks 🙂 Personally, I think there are quite a few interesting projects this year, I’d have to see if they (and indeed mine) make it to fruition before coming to a decision on which is the most useful!

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