We would like to conclude this GNU
gettext manual by presenting
an history of the GNU Translation Project so far. We finally give
a few pointers for those who want to do further research or readings
about Native Language Support matters.
Internationalization concerns and algorithms have been informally
and casually discussed for years in GNU, sometimes around GNU
libc, maybe around the incoming
Hurd, or otherwise
(nobody clearly remembers). And even then, when the work started for
real, this was somewhat independently of these previous discussions.
This all began in July 1994, when Patrick D'Cruze had the idea and
initiative of internationalizing version 3.9.2 of GNU
He then asked Jim Meyering, the maintainer, how to get those changes
folded into an official release. That first draft was full of
#ifdefs and somewhat disconcerting, and Jim wanted to find
nicer ways. Patrick and Jim shared some tries and experimentations
in this area. Then, feeling that this might eventually have a deeper
impact on GNU, Jim wanted to know what standards were, and contacted
Richard Stallman, who very quickly and verbally described an overall
design for what was meant to become
glocale, at that time.
glocale and got a lot of exhausting feedback
from Patrick and Richard, of course, but also from Mitchum DSouza
(who wrote a
catgets-like package), Roland McGrath, maybe David
MacKenzie, Pinard, and Paul Eggert, all pushing and
pulling in various directions, not always compatible, to the extent
that after a couple of test releases,
glocale was torn apart.
While Jim took some distance and time and became dad for a second
time, Roland wanted to get GNU
libc internationalized, and
got Ulrich Drepper involved in that project. Instead of starting
glocale, Ulrich rewrote something from scratch, but
more conformant to the set of guidelines who emerged out of the
glocale effort. Then, Ulrich got people from the previous
forum to involve themselves into this new project, and the switch
glocale to what was first named
nlsutils, and later
gettext, became officially accepted
by Richard in May 1995 or so.
Let's summarize by saying that Ulrich Drepper wrote GNU
in April 1995. The first official release of the package, including
PO mode, occurred in July 1995, and was numbered 0.7. Other people
contributed to the effort by providing a discussion forum around
Ulrich, writing little pieces of code, or testing. These are quoted
THANKS file which comes with the GNU
While this was being done, adapted half a dozen of
GNU packages to
glocale first, then later to
putting them in pretest, so providing along the way an effective
user environment for fine tuning the evolving tools. He also took
the responsibility of organizing and coordinating the GNU Translation
Project. After nearly a year of informal exchanges between people from
many countries, translator teams started to exist in May 1995, through
the creation and support by Patrick D'Cruze of twenty unmoderated
mailing lists for that many native languages, and two moderated
lists: one for reaching all teams at once, the other for reaching
all maintainers of internationalized packages in GNU.
also wrote PO mode in June 1995 with the collaboration
of Greg McGary, as a kind of contribution to Ulrich's package.
He also gave a hand with the GNU
gettext Texinfo manual.
Eugene H. Dorr (`[email protected]') maintains an interesting bibliography on internationalization matters, called Internationalization Reference List, which is available as:
Michael Gschwind (`[email protected]') maintains a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, entitled Programming for Internationalisation. This FAQ discusses writing programs which can handle different language conventions, character sets, etc.; and is applicable to all character set encodings, with particular emphasis on ISO 8859-1. It is regularly published in Usenet groups `comp.unix.questions', `comp.std.internat', `comp.software.international', `comp.lang.c', `comp.windows.x', `comp.std.c', `comp.answers' and `news.answers'. The home location of this document is:
Patrick D'Cruze (`[email protected]') wrote a tutorial about NLS matters, and Jochen Hein (`[email protected]') took over the responsibility of maintaining it. It may be found as:
This site is mirrored in:
A French version of the same tutorial should be findable at:
together with French translations of many Linux-related documents.
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