Translation guidelines for Messenger Plus! Live - Printable Version
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Translation guidelines for Messenger Plus! Live by Thor on 06-18-2008 at 03:04 PM
Messenger Plus! Translation Guidelines (Unofficial!)
This is an updated version of the "Messenger Plus! Translation Guidelines". This document was originally released by Patchou the 16th of April 2004, and unofficially updated/partly rewritten by Nitro in April 2008. Several fixes have been processed, based on suggestions in the thread and from our loved IRC server.
If you wish to download a .doc, .pdf or another format you can do so over at
the Google Docs version of the translation guidelines.
Please leave comments, improvements and typos in the other thread.
This document is intended to be read by people wanting to translate Messenger Plus! Live into a new language or who want to update and improve an existing translation. You must read the document entirely before you start translating the software, it contains important information that you should be aware of.
You must meet the following requirements in order to qualify as a translator:
If you do not qualify please do not start a new translation. Don’t take this personally, I trust that you want to give your best, but keep in mind that for most languages, tens of thousands (or hundred of thousands) of people will use the result of your work. These can be individuals as much as company employees. You want to give all these people a great translation, else, they’ll probably go back to English.
- Very good English writing skills.
- Good knowledge of the features of Messenger Plus! Live (enough to know what are Quick Texts, Quick Icons, Boss Protect, ...).
- Sufficient computer knowledge to know how to work with the registry and files (zipping, copying, ...)
- Excellent skills in the language you’ll be translating to. It is mandatory for the translation to be a very good one, it must have a professional look and feel. Sentences must make perfect sense; you must be able to shorten a text while keeping its original meaning (when your language takes more space than the original English text). Excellent grammatical skills are also required.
The way translation works
The setup of Messenger Plus! Live copies all languages to your hard disk. All the text for a language is stored in a single file. These files are located in the Languages directory of Messenger Plus! Live (so generally it will be at “C:\Program Files\Messenger Plus! Live\Languages”). This means that your job is to create a new file in this directory, with your translation in it.
A language file is named like this: “Lng_” + language name + “.ini”.
The content of a language file is only read by Messenger Plus! Live once, during its first execution. After the first execution, the strings are read from the memory, and not from the language file. This means that updates to the translation file will not be seen, even if you close and open the window.
- For Finnish, the name of the file is Lng_Finnish.ini
- For Japanese, the name of the file is Lng_Japanese.ini
To fix this, start regedit and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Patchou\Messenger Plus! Live\GlobalSettings. Then, set the dword value of AlwaysReloadInterfaces to 1. (If it doesn't exist, create it.) This way you will force Messenger Plus! Live to read the translation file each time a window is opened.
For more information about registry tweaks, please visit the Registry Settings page at the official site.
Before you do anything, you need to uninstall your current version of Messenger Plus! Live, reboot your computer (so that all the old files of Messenger Plus! are deleted) and install the latest version of the software from www.msgpluslive.net. If you don’t, your translation will be refused. During installation select English.
Note: the interface language can be modified later in the “General > Main” section of the Preferences panel of Messenger Plus! Live. This can be useful to see how a text looks in English in a window while translating it.
After installation, you must create a new file that will contain your translation. To do this, follow these easy steps:
Structure of a language file
- Open an Explorer window and go in the “C:\Program Files\Messenger Plus! Live\Languages” directory.
- In this directory you’ll see a file called “Lng_Default.ini”. Copy this file to a new language file. For example, if your new language is Japanese you must copy “Lng_Default.ini” to “Lng_YourLanguageInEnglish.ini” (as explained in the section above).
- Open the newly created file in notepad.
- Remove the first 3 lines (they start with “;” and are meant only as a warning to avoid people modifying the English translation).
- Save the file.
A language file is an ini file. If you know what this is, good, else, here is a little explanation. An ini file is, more than anything else, a text file. To edit it I recommend using Choli's tool for translating Messenger Plus!. Notepad can be fine too but some languages are not displayed properly in it. An ini file contains different kind of components:
The only components you have to translate are the values. Sections and Keys must stay unchanged as they are known by Messenger Plus!. Comments are here to help you understand some parts of the file. When you don’t need them anymore, please, remove them so that the final file doesn’t contain useless data.
- Sections. This is a line with some text between [ ]. Example: [Launcher]
- Keys. A text, at the beginning of a line, followed by an equal sign. Example: RadScripts=Scripts (RadScripts is the key).
- Values. A text preceded by a key. Key and values always form a pair. Example: RadScripts=Scripts (Scripts is the value).
- Comments. A line of text that begins with a semi column. Example: ;Error Messages that can be displayed...
code:In this example you can see that only the value of the OldMessenger key was translated. Also, the comment was removed. Of course, you’re not forced to remove the comments right away. You can wait for the whole file to be translated. You can even add your own comments to exchange some information with your coworkers. All those comments must be removed when the file is finally sent back for approval.
Original English Text
;Error Message that can be displayed in the setup of Messenger Plus! Live
OldMessenger=This version of Messenger Plus! requires MSN Messenger 8.0 (Windows Live Messenger) or above.\nPress OK to download a compatible version of Messenger Plus!.
Translated Text in French
OldMessenger=Cette version de Messenger Plus! requiert MSN Messenger 8.0 (Windows Live Messenger) ou supérieur.\nCliquez sur OK pour télécharger une version compatible.
Suggestion & note: keep a copy of the English translation file before you translate it. After having translated a text or after having removed some comments, you may want to check some things and the backup of the original file will be useful for that. Also, it is recommended to keep a copy of your daily work safely somewhere. It will avoid you the pain to lose all your work because of a single mistake. Remember that Choli's Messenger Plus! translator is just a tool, for your final submission you are recommended to look over the file with a normal text editor.
A value is separated from its key by an equal sign. No space character must be put between the key, the equal sign, and the value. Also, a key/value pair extends on only one line. You can’t break a value into different lines. When a text contains line breaks, a special tag is inserted to represent the line break (more about that later). However, in some cases adding a space between the equal sign and the value is ok, if required for the translated string to work properly in windows. In those cases, you must add a " before the space, as shown in the example under.
These strings are not following these rules, however, they are not necessarily incorrect:
- UnicodeRadio=" Unicode encoding
- UnicodeRadio =Unicode encoding
- UnicodeRadio= Unicode encoding
Every section in a language file define a different part of Messenger Plus!. For example, section [Setup] represents the text displayed during installation whereas [Window.ContactList] contains the text of the contact list main Plus! menu. Most of the sections represent distinctive windows, you’ll get used to the file composition pretty quickly. However, some explanation must be given concerning some of the elements.
Different tags can be found in the text. Here is a list of those tags and their meaning
Important: some people are used to navigate in a software only by using these keyboard shortcuts. In fact, people with disabilities (like blind people) require these shortcuts. You must make sure that shortcuts are assigned properly on all the input controls of a window that supports them. This means that in a given window or sub-menu, only one control must have the same shortcut.
- %1, %2, %3, etc. These tags are placeholders for text added by Messenger Plus! at runtime. For example,
Are you sure you want to remove status "%1"?
will be changed at runtime for
Are you sure you want to remove status "In a meeting"?
Are you sure you want to remove status "Sleeping"?
These tags must stay in the translated text, however, in some cases there are several placeholders in one string. For example,
%1 has changed his/her name to "%2"
will be changed at runtime for
[/i]JAnderton has changed his/her name to "John Anderton"[/i]
This means that you have to place the placeholders in correct order, so that the translated strings make sense at runtime.
- %1!d!, %2!d!, %3!d!, etc. These tags are also placeholders, however, not text, but numbers. You should treat these as you treat the above placeholders, keep them in the correct order, so that the translated strings make sense at runtime.
- \n. This tags is used to represent a line break (carriage return to create a new line). Generally you’ll want to leave it in the translated text so that the software keeps the same look between languages.
- \t. It works the same way as the line break tags and has the same rules. This tag is used to insert a tabulation in the text. You can’t enter real tabulations (by pressing the Tab key on your keyboard) in the translation file, you must use this tag. This is also used to indicate shortcut keys in a menu (you’ll understand better by checking sections such as [Menu.Tags] and comparing them to what you see in Messenger Plus! Live).
- &. This tag is used in almost every menu, button or other input control. It indicates what letter of the control represents the keyboard shortcut (& is placed before the shortcut letter). It is the letter that is underlined when you press Alt on your keyboard. For example, often the “File” menu of many applications is displayed “File”. In the language file it would be written “&File” which means that the user can press Alt+F to access the “File” menu. Even if 98% of the controls have an associated shortcut, 2% of them do not have one. In that case you mustn’t specify one (for technical reasons).
code:If you have difficulties understanding how the tags work, don’t worry, it will all become clear when you start translating and see the direct result of your work on screen, in Messenger.
Bad translation (all three buttons using the same key "e"):
A language file also contains a special section that is located at the top of the file. It is called [FileInfo] and is used by Messenger Plus! to get some information about the language translated in the file. Here is an explanation of all the keys of this section:
- LanguageNameEng. This represents the name of your language, in English. This is used to display the language name in the setup list and in the list that Messenger Plus! displays in the “General > Main” preferences window. A default name has already been created for every language file, however, you are free to modify it so that it matches your exact translation work (be sure it doesn’t take more than 20 characters though). It is mandatory that this name is composed only from the following:
- Letters from a to z
- Letters from A to Z
- Allowed Punctuation: ( ) - _
- LanguageNameLocal. This represents the name of your language, written with your own alphabet. This means that you can use whatever character necessary so that your language name can be understood by anyone speaking your language, not English, not anything else. This is currently used in the “General > Main” section of the preferences.
- RightToLeft. This key can also be set to either 0 or 1. When set to one, translated text will be displayed from right to left. This is useful for languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. However, most languages will probably want to put zero for this key. Note: Messenger Plus! is not completely Right To Left compatible, which means that windows won’t be flipped as they are supposed to be in an RTL environment. Because of that, you must be careful when using punctuation characters.
- CompatibilityLevel. This value indicates to Messenger Plus! Live if it can use the translation file based on its last update. After updating a translation, always use the number present in the original English file.
- LanguageId. The value of this key will be set by Patchou, please do not modify it and do not add it in a newly created language file.
All the text of every key in a language file must be translated in order to be accepted into the Messenger Plus! Live distribution. There are also some important rules that you must follow:
A good thing to do is to work with several people on the same translation. That way, your work can be verified by other people so that errors can be corrected quicker. The recommended way is to work by section, not line number. So, don’t say that you’ll translate from line 17 to line 112. Instead, say that you’ll translate from section [Setup] to section [Window.UninstallWizard]. When each of you has finished its part, you can merge the files and check the work of your coworkers.
- The name of the software is “Messenger Plus! Live”. This must not be translated and must stay as “Messenger Plus! Live”.
- The “Plus!” menu shown in the contact list and the chat windows can’t be translated and will be displayed as “Plus!” for every language. This is due to security reasons. However, the content of the menu can be translated and is listed in different sections of the language file.
Testing a translation
Most of the translated text is displayed in different kinds of configuration windows. When you translate, you must ensure that your new text is displayed correctly in the window. It must fit in the predefined allowed space and has a clear meaning in its context. Here is a list of all the windows of Messenger Plus!, please use it while testing your translation:
In addition to these windows, a couple of other ones necessitate special actions to be displayed:
- Preferences. The preferences window is made of sections and sub-sections. You can access the preferences by selecting “Plus! > Preferences...” in the menu in your contact list. All these sections represent almost 40% of your work so be sure you spend enough time in them. Here are the windows you'll find inside the preferences.
- Script editor (General > Scripts), click "Create New..." or "Edit...".
- E-Mail accounts (General > E-Mail Accounts), select "Edit..." or "Add...".
- The settings for the Event Viewer & Log (Messenger > Event Logging), select "Filter by contacts...". Note that the Filter window is the same with all other "Filter" buttons.
- Re-encrypting of log files (Conversations > Logs Encryption), "Re-encrypt log files..."
- Quick Texts windows (Conversations > Quick Texts), both "Add..." and "Edit..." open the same window.
- Quick Icons windows (Conversations > Quick Icons), both "Add..." and "Edit..." open the same window.
- Personalized Status (Customize! > Personalized Status), as always, "Add..." and "Edit..." open the same windows.
- Events Notifications (Customize! > Events Notifications), windows for editing events notifications. Use "Add..." and "Edit..." to check the windows.
- Skins (Customize! > Skins), click "Extract Resources..." for the window.
- One of the more important windows, the Import/Export windows. Click the "Import/Export" button in the lower left of the preferences window. Then select Import or Export.
- About Box. Select “Plus! > About Messenger Plus!...” menu from your contact list window.
- Contact List Clean-up. Select “Plus! > Contact List Clean-up” menu from your contact list window (you must be signed-in).
- Event Viewer. Select “Plus! > Display Event Viewer” menu from your contact list window.
- Make sure to check the text for events displayed in this window.
- Personalized Status. When your status is “online”, change it for “away” and this window will be displayed. Also accessible from the “File\My Status\Personalised Status...” contact list window menu.
- Type some text in the “Auto-responder" section and click on the “Enable the auto-responder for certain...” text to display the Contact Selection window.
- Previous messages. Send at least one message, then select the “Plus!\Show Previous Messages...” through the Plus! icon in a chat window.
- Text Find. Select the “Plus!\Find Text” menu in a chat window.
- Contact Information. Right-click on a contact in your contact list and select “Messenger Plus! Features\Contact Information...” at the bottom of the menu.
- Custom Notifications. Right-click on a contact in your contact list and select “Messenger Plus! Features\Events Notifications” at the bottom of the menu.
Translation file delivery
- Two different windows are displayed when you use the “Messenger Lock” feature. One is displayed only once, the first time the feature is used, to ask for a confirmation. The second one is displayed every time “Messenger Lock mode” is exited (by double clicking on the Messenger Icon in the systray, near the clock).
- To enter Station Lock mode, select “Plus!\Lock Messenger” menu from your contact list window.
- To display the first window, if you already used the feature, you can reset your Messenger Plus! options in the Preferences panel. Just click the “Reset” link present in the bottom left corner of the window.
- A list window is displayed when selecting “Plus!\Open Log File...” while chatting with at least two contacts.
- A window is displayed when a Quick Text contains a parameter. A parameter is represented by a (!P) tag. To display this window, do the following:
- Select the “Plus!\Preferences...” menu from your contact list window and go to the “Message Helpers\Quick Texts” section.
- In the Message field enter “Test (!P)”, then press OK.
- While in a discussion window, press the Quick Text shortcut (if you edited the first one, the shortcut is Alt+1). The parameter window will be displayed.
- The auto-update feature has two windows. The first one pops-up when an update is detected and, if the user clicks “Download” in this window, the second one is displayed when the download is complete and the update is ready to be installed. Here are the steps to trigger the auto-update window.
- Start regedit to open the Windows registry.
- Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Patchou\Messenger Plus! Live\.
- Edit the “SoftwareBuild” value and set it to 1 (write down the current value to set it back after the test is complete).
- Open up a chat window and execute the command /checkupdates.
- When you enable logging encryption (Conversations\Logs Encryption section in the preferences), a window popups when you want to open an encrypted log file.
- Unfortunately, there is no method to display the Automatic Recovery window. Text for this windows is in the [Dialog.Recovery] section. As you can’t test the result, you should be careful that the translated text length for these sections is not bigger than the original English text, else, the translated text won’t fit in the window.
- Uninstaller. Go to Add/Remove program, select Messenger Plus! Live and click Remove. The Uninstaller has two windows.
Once the entire file has been translated and carefully tested it must be posted in the Translation section of the official forum, for integration. The file will then be quickly checked for known problems (example: text doesn’t fit in a window) and will be sent back in case that kind of problem is found.
- Important: One mistake is human, but multiple errors due to improper testing will result in the translation for a given language to be completely suspended. You have to understand that Messenger Plus! Live is being translated in a lot of languages and problems that can be detected easily can only mean that the translation itself suffers from lack of work. Again, keep in mind that tens of thousands of people will use your translation and all of them will be expecting professional results.
Once the translation seems correct, a new version of Messenger Plus! Live will be created and sent to you so that you can do some final checks. Also, if your language is using European characters, you have to see if the Setup looks alright when your language is selected. This step can only be performed once the language file is integrated into the setup.
The last thing that must be sent along with the language file is a screenshot of the About Box of Messenger Plus!, displayed using your language. This applies for any language, complex or not. It will be used for testing purposes.
- Don’t know how to do a screen shot? Open the About Box of Messenger Plus! Live, and press Alt+Print Screen on your keyboard (the Print Screen key is generally at the right of the F12 key). Then, open Paint (Start\Programs\Accessories Windows menu) and select the “Edit\Paste” menu. Now, you just have to save it and attach the resulting file to your post. (Remember not to use JPEG or any other format not intended for screenshots.)
Thank you for reading this document. I would appreciate if you could tell us in what countries your language is spoken. Thank you for being a translator, as you just read, this implies some work and some time but the end result will be worth it, you can be sure of that!