An open-source project to capture the spirit and challenges of the Rails internationalization world.

Christopher Dell

Christopher Dell

1) Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m an entrepreneur and Ruby developer living in France’s gastronomic capital, Lyon, with my wife and baby daughter. In what little spare time I have, I organise a tasty food-focused tech conference in Paris called La Conf.

During the day, my “real” job is managing a localization app for Rails developers called Locale.

2) What’s your involvement and background with Rails I18n?

I started contributing to rails-i18n back in 2011 and since then I’ve dabbled in a whole load of related projects from i18n itself to ruby-cldr.

I also maintain a few of my own gems that are related to internationalization like i18n-spec to test your locale files, the iso gem to get a list of languages and regions and various translations for other existing gems (eg. devise-i18n, kaminari-i18n).

3) What made you go into I18n in the first place?

The need to get involved in I18n came about because of a project I was working on at the time that used languages as a way of expanding into new markets.

That gamble paid off since the project is still happily running and counts over 30 localizations to this date. Booya!

I can’t recommend this strategy enough as often the cost of localization is insignificant compared to the cost of internationalization (which is a one-time thing), so if you support say, two languages, you might as well reap the commercial benefits of having ten languages.

4) Let’s say I’m a completely new developer just getting into I18n for the very first time. I’ve read the docs, and I’m ready to roll. What surprises will I encounter, still? What are some of the common pitfalls people stumble on?

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that internationalization is a very difficult process! Unless, you understand the grammer of every single language on the planet you are probably going to get some things wrong until a native speaker points out a problem to you. But don’t fret, this stuff is super hard and you will figure it out eventually!

The following three tips should help you avoid 80% of the most common mistakes new I18n-ers make (statistic may not be totally accurate):

5) Rails I18n is the core – but there are many tools that can help developers make use of it, like other gems, Web translation front-ends, and even text editor plugins. What are some of your favorite extras? What are the coolest tools to add on top of Rails I18n for maximum comfort and speed?

Obviously I’m biased towards using Locale as a translation managment tool, but there are now many other excellent options like Phraseapp or Transifex.

There’s a project by Gleb Mazovetskiy that I’m really in admiration of called i18n-tasks that has a whole range of commands to help you manage your locale files - I highly recommend checking it out!