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Ukrainianizing your computer



  Computer software: in what language?

How to teach your computer to interface in Ukrainian

In general, Ukrainians are a hard working people that don't easily take offense. But even the hardest working and the kindest hearted among Ukrainians have become disenchanted by the many producers of computer software, among them giants like Microsoft, who every year ignore this nation of 60 million and stubbornly refuse to release their products with a Ukrainian interface version. Which is not to say that there are not a few outlying examples here and there of Ukrainianization on the market, but in comparison to the multitude of programs and systems available in many other languages, they seem to be just a drop in the bucket.

Alo! Surprisingly, the Ukrainian government has not expressed much of an interest in lobbying for Ukrainianized software, so we can scarcely blame foreign manufacturers who rarely take an interest in our national questions.

But if one looks hard enough, one finds good even in the poorest of situations. Although software manufacturers by and large refuse to offer Ukrainianized versions, some Ukrainians have begun to do the work themselves.

Such is the motivation behind several new Ukrainian Web sites, who have taken on a mission to post patches to well known computer programs. The function of these patches is to translate the programs' user interfaces into Ukrainian. We'll take you on a tour of some of these sites, and describe what they have to offer you in the quest for teaching our computers to interface with us in Ukrainian!

www.ukrface.kiev.ua - The site's title is long, but immediately gets to the point: Server of Programs with a Ukrainian Interface. YkpFace is arguably the most extensive existing resource for downloading either Ukrainianization packs for existing software, or complete software packages that natively offer a Ukrainian language interface.

This site exhibits a rather busy aesthetic design that seems to want to fit 10 kilograms of information into a 5 kilogram Web page, but the surfing experience ultimately proves to be unexpectedly pleasant. The site is partitioned into sections: "Downloading language modules" and "Web pages of programs that support Ukrainian interfaces". The former selection offers a catalog of software patches for download and installation on top of your purchased software, while the latter provides listings and links to official sites of software manufacturers that build native Ukrianian interfaces into their software products.

Be aware that some of the programs that you'll find on this site must be purchased, but the vast majority may be downloaded for free.

Offering a wide range of programs and patches for interfacing with your personal computer in Ukrainian, YkpFace appears to be the authoritative source on the Internet today. Many other sites, including some which we review below, often provide either a less robust selection or appear to borrow directly from YkpFace's content.

www.domivka.net/modules.php?name=Downloads Well known in Ukrainian Internet circles, the "Domivka" site has ambitions to be a true portal, but in our opinion has neither a sufficient suite of services, nor the required numbers of visitors to be called a true portal site. But Domivka's ambitions are fortuitous for those seeking Ukrainianized programs, because such are offered here. Domivka's selection is partitioned into two sections: Ukrainian language programs, and adapted translations.

In the native Ukrianian programs section, we counted only four seelctions, all of them games. Software development being the extremely time consuming task that it is, this category of program suffers from lack of human resources that can afford to seriously undertake development of complex systems. In the translations section, we encountered mainly that which we had already seen on the YkpFace site.

The next stop on our tour is Vova's (no surname given) site - uavova.narod.ru. Here the casual surfer will find only five programs available for download, because the maintainer of the site has taken a very specific pragmatic approach. Vova adds Ukrainian interfaces only with the expressed permission of the original program's authors. In fact, Vova offers Ukrainian translation services for the author of any computer program. We may have passed this site by if not for our interest in a program it offers for the generation of images in abstract expressionism (curiously unique and doesn't take up much memory).

An interesting, but little known, resource is hidden behind this rather long address: lllukom.by.ru/LUKOM.files/ukranizer.htm. Here you can find Ukrainian adaptations to programs that are mostly written by this site's author and his friends, and also some that, in the opinion of the author, are the most useful and needed of translations borrowed from other sites. In the interest of evolving the art and broadening the use of our language, he author also shares his expertise on his site. He offers information on translating computer interfaces and has posted several specialized programs to that end for download.

Along the same lines is the ukrspell.virtualave.net site. The author personally translates interfaces of programs, and offers his experiences on how to bypass bugs associated with the Ukrainian letter "i" in Windows NT and such. However, the site appears to be arrears in its rent, as its last changes date back to December 2001.

The www.ukrainiz.narod.ru site is not particularly lavish in content, but it excels in providing a mix of invaluable programs that are useful in daily computer tasks. The site has the look of activity, but the last additions date back a year and a half.

There are several good programs at www.slovnyk.org/prg, but they are largely of interest in philology circles, which makes the site an interesting one but to a somewhat limited audience. Worth a visit if this is your cup of tea.

Another site worth browsing is programy.com.ua/catalog/index.php. It does not restrict itself solely to supplying programs with a Ukrainian interface, although these are represented in their own subsection. The site is simply a Ukrainian one with many interesting and useful resources, among them programs in the English and Russian languages. The site catalog lists entries grouped by theme and category, making for easy searching. It also hosts a quite active forum, but its downloads mostly take advantage of the vic-info.com.ua site, which is a good resource in and of itself.

All the sites listed above are accessible for your perusal without charge. You're likely to find a great many programs that will come in handy at one time or another, but be warned that some of the patches and programs you may find on certain sites may violate the originating authors' copyrights - we recommend that you do not download or utilize such software. But in all other cases, the sites provide a wealth of programs and patches that dozens or more programmers and other individuals have created without the motivation of profit, for use by those who wish a cybernetic journey in their native language. Enjoy!

  What's meant by "Ukrainianizing" software?

Historically, program interfaces (the interface is that part of the program that you see on the screen - the text that the program displays to you in the form of menus, options, buttons, etc.) were written in one language - usually English. As the popularity and use of computers has grown, three methods of multi language support have evolved.

Many modern programs are written with translation in mind. These programs might be authored in a single language, but often offer a method which anyone can use to translate into additional languages. Usually the method involves publishing a list of words and phrases in the program's native language, then permitting others to translate each phrase. The translations are then fed into the program (either by the translator or by the author), which "learns" to interface with its users in that new language. This approach is commonly referred to the "language pack" system.

Some programs do not support language packs, and are not meant by the author to be translated. Resulting in frustration for users who don't speak the native language of the program, hackers have taken to finding complex technical solutions of their own to changing the original programs, so that they present an interface in a different language. Such hacks abound on the Internet. Note that CYM does not endorse or recommend the use of or downloading of hacks that violate copyrights of the program authors.

Finally, some manufacturers of computer software are providing translations into a number of languages. Companies like Microsoft offer various language-specific versions of their products for sale. However, although many consider this the "correct approach", it is unfortunately not always a financially viable option for all software vendors.
 

 

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