Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Funambol Forge in Chinese

There are many ways a world-wide community works together towards a common goal. One is sharing and improving code. Another one is testing and making sure it works on any phone and mobile operator in the world (mostly in the Funambol case, but it can be generalized). Another one is supporting all the users that belong to the community. There are more, but one stands out for simplicity: localization.

Localization is a killer. If you have a mass market consumer product and you are going after the entire world (which is flat, so you have to...), then you are facing the need of translating the UIs and web site and manuals in hundreds of languages. Granted, English works pretty much everywhere - if you are a developer. But if you are an end user, you want to see your language. No exceptions.

There is where the community kicks in. It is relatively easy - if you plan it properly - to have a community member in a country to do translations on the UI (not the funny one you see sometimes, really good ones), on the web site, on the manuals, instructions to use and configure phones and so on.

At Funambol, a big chunk of our downloads come from China. Actually, it is the #1 country for downloads. Mobile is exploding there. We are now about to have a presence in the region (we are expanding fast, first stop was the Middle East with Dubai), but we still rely on the community for making our product great.

One example is the new Funambol Forge in Chinese. I have absolutely no idea if the content was translated properly, but faith is what a community is built on. If you find anything wrong on the site, just join the translators and make it better. As simple as that.