Last week, I was at a language school in Shingu, Japan that uses both Firefox and Thunderbird – and they *love* what we do. The people working in the office are from all over the world – native speakers in various languages. When they found out I worked at Mozilla, they asked if there was a way to switch locales depending on who is using the various shared computers in the office.
To be clear, they were not asking about having ‘n’ installations, one per user, each installation in a different locale. Instead, they were asking about having one installation that can switch from displaying all menuitems/dialogboxes/etc from displaying in one locale to displaying in another locale. This would allow all users to see the same shared browser history in Firefox, same company email inbox in Thunderbird, but each be able to use the computer in their own native language. Students learning new languages could also try using different locales when they are helping out in the office.
On my computer, with en-US TB126.96.36.199, I was able to install the QuickLocaleSwitcher addon, install the jp-JP-mac language pack xpi file from ftp.mozilla.org, restart Thunderbird, and bingo – I now had ja-JP-mac TB188.8.131.52! Success. 🙂 I repeated the same experiment using bsmedberg’s Locale-Switcher addon instead, and it worked equally well. I then repeated these two experiments with Firefox 3.0.7 and they both worked perfectly, as expected. So far so good.
1) Gotcha: One of the computers has ja-JP TB184.108.40.206 installed, so to be able to switch it to en-US meant installing the en-US xpi file. But it turns out we never publish the en-US xpi file on ftp.mozilla.org, so I could never install and switch to en-US. While I could install any other locale, including different english locale, like en-GB, but that wasn’t the point. The only way to switch from any locale to en-US was to first download the en-US build?!? Huh? Where was the en-US xpi file? Turns out, while we publish xpi files for all other locales, we’ve never ever published the en-US xpi file. I’ve filed bug#485860 to have release automation publish the en-US xpi file, alongside the xpi files for all the other locales.
2) Idea: We currently create one separate download per locale. 70 locales means 70 downloads. What if we also created one additional 71st download which contained all 70 language packs and one of these two addons out-of-the-box? For some specific types of users, I think this might be useful, so I’ve filed bug#485861 to track this. Initial thoughts:
- I’m not talking about modifying the existing locales that we already publish. Instead, we’d just produce one additional new locale repack (called “multi-lingual”?), and make it available on the usual all.html page.
- This would be a bigger download, because it has all the xpi files. Back of envelope estimate is 7.4MB bigger before any installer compression.
- There’s some concern that having multiple xpi files would cause a slower startup time on the very first startup after installation, but not on subsequent startups. mossop is investigating if this is the case, and if so, to what extent.
- Ideally this multi-lingual release would have the addon and multiple xpi files included, so it would just work out-of-the-box. But I’ve no idea whats involved with pre-bundling a specific addon in Firefox or Thunderbird. However if we produce a multi-lingual release containing all the xpi files, but not either addon, and we ask the user to install the addon manually, we’ve still simplified the setup steps that a multi-lingual user needs to follow.
- I’m still trying to figure out the update scenarios to see if there’s any gotchas.
What do people think? Also, are there any other gotchas people can think of?