Reaching the World with AMO Localizations

July 30th, 2010

As anyone who’s developed an add-on for Firefox is probably aware, Mozilla’s AMO pages offer a multitude of localization options for your add-on’s webpage: 33 different languages, including English, to be exact. This is an unparalleled opportunity to reach and communicate with users virtually everywhere around the world. However, actually translating your AMO page, quickly and economically, can be challenging. Outside of paying large sums for professional translation services, or hitting up foreign language-speaking friends, we know of two good options.


While the UI might be a little obtuse and the process a bit complicated, many add-on developers have told us that they’ve had great success with BabelZilla. If you create an account and upload your add-on, volunteers will translate the embedded text for you. If you would also like to have the text on your AMO page translated, you could drop the strings in .property files. We were never quite able to get it to responses, and the activity seems somewhat low, but it’s free so you might want to give it a try. Apparently there are ways to kindly solicit translators on the forums.

Amazon Mechanical Turk:

This is not free, but for a very modest amount of money you can get your AMO page quickly translated by native speakers. Create an account and then follow the instructions to upload the text of your AMO page. We used the “Basic Open-ended Question” template. On the Properties page you can specify the location of the worker. For virtually all of our translations we chose people living in the country where the language is spoken. The Reward is up to you, but we paid $5-10 per translation for our AMO page. Publish and then wait for the replies to roll in.

Some translations took a while to be returned, but the majority came in under 1 day, and some came back in hours. The average time a worker spent on a translation was 20-30 minutes. In the end, we were able to get 30 translations in just a few days:

Arabic (ar), Catalan (ca), Czech (cs), Danish (da), German (de), Greek (el), Basque (eu), Spanish (es-ES), Finnish (fi), French (fr), Gaeilge (ga-IE), Hebrew (he), Hungarian (hu), Indonesian (id), Italian (it), Japanese (ja), Korean (ko), Dutch (nl), Polish (pl), Brazilian Portuguese (pt-BR), European Portuguese (pt-PT), Romanian (ro), Russian (ru), Slovakian (sk), Albanian (sq), Swedish (sv-SE), Ukrainian (uk), Vietnamese (vi), Chinese (zh-CN) and Taiwanese (zh-TW). We’re still working on Farsi (fa) and Mongolian (mn).

There are some things to look out for.  When you get the translations you might want to drop them into which, while far from perfect, can help to make sure they are not way off base. Also, if you get a response from someone that took less than a few minutes, he or she probably just got a machine translation, which is not particularly desirable and naturally you could do yourself. Most people will not do this, but sometimes it might be worth specifying that you want a human translation. (As the Mozilla Devloper Wiki indicates, “You are kindly advised NOT to use any automatic online translation, which can bring unpleasant low-quality output to users.”) Lastly, if there are translations that look suspect, you can even go back into Mechanical Turk and set up another job to have the translations proofread by a different native speaker.

In the end it took a bit of effort, but making your hard development work understandable by so many people around the world makes it worth the while. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions or need any help.

Tags: Collaboration Tutorials