[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software


by Joel Spolsky
Sunday, November 30, 2003

I spent the long weekend grinding through the backlog of Joel on Software translations. There are a bunch of new articles in various languages including new sections for Esperanto and Greek. All in all there are 264 translations in progress in 32 languages thanks to 242 volunteers around the world. 177 translations are complete and have already been posted.

There are a few articles, already translated, which just need copy editors before I can post them. If you read and write one of these languages fluently and are willing to help out, I'd really appreciate it! What's involved is just looking for typos and errors and improving the translation wherever possible. If I don't find anyone to edit the articles I will probably just go ahead and post them unedited but it would be nice to have a second set of eyes improving the quality of the translations.

Languages I need editors for: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Trad), Esperanto, Estonian, French, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Port.), Romanian, Russian, Swedish, and Tamil.

A frequently asked question: why bother with these translations? Surely any real programmer knows English! And my frequently answered answer: First of all, not every programmer knows English, and if they do, they may not know it that well, so they may not really enjoy reading things written in English if they don't have to. Second, even if the programmers have learned enough English to decipher online documentation, their pointy-haired bosses from management may not have.

Another frequent question: why not just use Babelfish or Google Language Tools or another similar translation tool? Answer: They are seriously little. You cannot include/understand simply the exit. Er, what I meant to say was, they are seriously inadequate. The quality of translations produced by automatic software is so horrible that you really can't understand the output. Try asking Google to translate http://french.joelonsoftware.com from French to English for some real howlers. "Then why does nobody make planning? Two principal reasons. Firstly, it is really difficult. Secondly, nobody believes that that is worth the sorrow of it. Why give so much difficulty to be worked on a planning if it is known that it will not be correct?"

Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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