Some first thoughts about arabic i18n

During the 2nd Indico Workshop in fall 2017, it was mentioned that an arabic translation of Indico would be desirable for 2018. Such a project would imply more work than for right-to-left languages, which are in that sense compatible with English and other language translations up to now. Thus a strong impact on code development and a commitment from developers to follow new rules: Not only character strings will have to be translated, but also the arrangement of HTML elements must be minimally adopted, if not systematically then at least along some main lines. I am trying to illustrate the complexity with this post.
It is not meant to discourage us from doing it; there is a huge potential for this language, which has the 5th most native speakers in the world. But the effort should not be underestimated and carefully planned, in order not to get stuck or disappointed by the result.

Here is a tentative of a Participant List in Indico:

It illustrates that titles, like all text, need to be right-aligned. But the alignment of column headers is not obvious, if a mixture of arabic “legend” and latin character “content” is allowed in the conference. In addition, the order of columns would naturally be changed by a native arabic writer. The left bar menu should appear on the right side.

CSS 1.0 standard already contained the rtl/ltr (right-to-left/left-to-right) values for bidirectional writing. (And I believe it has been extended to positioning divs and ps accordingly as well. But in order to give everybody something more to think, here is an example containing more subtleties.
As you will notice, numbers are (always) written left-to-right in arabic (i.e. opposed to the text direction)! Hence the rendering is wrong, and I could not figure out, why. (It works in arabic Wikipedia.) In this special case the order of the words and the group of digits also gets reversed (at least on my FF 52.4.0).

It might also be instructive to have a look at the genesis of arabic Wikipedia. By the way, they use “Western arabic” numbers.

When it comes to the translation of dates, note that there are five different schemas to name the months of the solar calendar in arabic.

More reading about RTL/LTR (using hebrew for the examples).

PS: As I cannot guarantee its permanent availability on the w3school site, here is the HTML source used above for reference.
<style type="text/css">
p {unicode-bidi:bidi-override;}
.ltr {direction:ltr;}
.rtl {direction:rtl;}

<p class="ltr">Writing text from left to right: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 </p>
<p class="rtl">٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩ من اليمين إلى اليسار <br/>
Writing text from right to left: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.</p>

We need Arabic support this great solution and we are happy to contribute in this direction(Arabic translations for Indico).

Hello @mohammad_amro, what could you contribute precisely? Word-by-word or sentence-by-sentence translations (via transifex)? Help with arrangement, for example lurking over wp(ar) and get some idea how they solved the HTML handling (although it is not a mixed-language site as Indico will logically become, and therefore may be a bad example)?
Do you have the possibility to attend a future Indico workshop?

Yes, I can. If you have any plan for Arabic translation for indico we are ready to contribute.

I don’t know what kind of “any plan” you expect exactly before starting to contribute. IIRC, some experts of a big international organisation in Geneva wanted to work on it, and we exchanged some ideas how to get organised.
Would one of the abovementioned domains fit your interest and competences? You have cited specifically “translation” and “HTML elements” in your first post. There is an “ar” section in transifex; would you like to subscribe there and help with the first steps (probably a glossary and a discussion how local specifics will be handled)? Do you have concrete ideas or proposals how to handle the LTR problematic in the Indico front-end and/or could you help with implementation? (You will have to discuss with developers, but python and JavaScript will likely be a must for that.)

Although this topic seems not active for a relatively long time, but I would be happy to help translating Indico to Arabic. I can help with both translation and front end development.

I tried to join Indico team on transifex, but Arabic is not in the available languages even though it is listed in the projects and cannot be requested (because it already exists)!

EDIT: I just realized that I already requested to join Arabic project in transifex 5 months ago and it has not got accepted yet.

Regarding the front end development I don’t know if there is a place (github?) for rtl development or issues? or maybe a place to discuss first thoughts and ideas (other than this topic).

Hi Mohammed, Dirk,

I received a new request for an Arabic team - not exactly sure if it came from you (Mohammed). But I’ve replied through Transifex.

I think this should be the right time to start thinking about introducing the language. What I would recommend doing is to get the translatable strings on Transifex first and then incrementally fix potential deviations from standard i18n as @dirk astutely pointed out. We have a separate instance for testing we normally use to share these results with the translators.

Thank you for your reply.
I’m having some difficulty using Transifex, I cannot find the Indico project anymore! and this link: gives a 404 page not found error!

Update: I found the correct link to indico page (Indico localization). But I still don’t have access to the translation. I made a new request from a new account (username: jafaralshamma), can you accept it please?

Yes, you should be able to access it now.

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Thank you very much.

Our team can not join the Indico team to translate Indico to Arabic. when we tried to join the Arabic is not listed in the Available languages dropdown list as shown below:

@dirk @plourenco
Please Advice


Perhaps you can access it directly through this link?

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Thanks for your reply @plourenco
I can access the Indico translation website but I can not join the team. After I checked on the Join team button I can not find the Arabic in the Available languages dropdown list.


Could you please check if you’ve received an invitation to join?
I’m not exactly sure why it isn’t showing up but I’ve managed to invite you manually.

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Hello @mohammad_amro.
As far as I can see, the option “Arabic” is missing, because you are already a member of it. At least that is what I experience: In the drop-down menu I cannot see options “German” or “French” – which clearly exist, but I already joined those teams.

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Yes, thanks for adding me to the Indico translation team.

Dear @plourenco
Kindly could you please manually invite my colleague at KFUPM to the Indico Arabic translation group as they can not join the team:


I was able to add right away, but does not seem to have a transfiex account yet and was sent an invitation.

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Thanks, I will contact Mr. Ali to create has Transdiex account using KFUPM

Dear @dirk
Could you please add me to Indico Arabic translation group