Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
July 8th, 2005
Google Summer of Code


Duplication of effort

Argh. Now that I had taken the time to setup CVS and a half-decent website for my Summer of Code project, I find out that there might not even be a point to working on it.

Even as far back as 2002, I’d been aware of a few Vietnamese-speakers signing up to translate Mozilla, which at the time was the Mozilla Project’s only browser and mail client. They signed up, but nothing ever came of it: no translation – not even a word – had been posted to the Web. I got a bit impatient, and so did a more prominent project participant.

So when the nice folks at mozdev.org proposed a Vietnamese translation as a possible SoC project, I jumped at the chance. (Plus, I need the $4,500 for tuition and such.) I’m not actually fluent in the language, but no one else wanted to do the work, so why shouldn’t I pitch in? Being the careful person I am, I checked the Localization Teams page once more, just to make sure that no one had indeed submitted a translation while I wasn’t looking.

But, browsing around Mozilla’s documentation on localizations (translations) tonight, I happened across a newer version of the Localization Teams page, this one at the new Mozilla wiki. From this page, it became apparent that people were actively working on a Vietnamese translation – two of them.

One of the new contributors, Trần Minh Quan, was requesting access to Mozilla’s CVS repository, which is something you do when you’ve already translated everything and want to submit it for inclusion in the final product. It seems that they’ve went ahead and translated Firefox 1.0, however; since I was planning to translate version 1.1, Quan’s translation might only partially cause a conflict with mine.

The other, Công Chính Nguyễn, had also requested access, but they didn’t seem to have done any translation work yet, so there was no possibility of a duplication of effort there.

Why does duplicated effort scare me so much? Google is forbidding any SoC participants from collaborating with anyone else, which means that I’d be forced to write a second Vietnamese translation anyways – rendering mine useless, since I’m not quite fluent in the language. If my translation ends up useless, the $4,500 might be in jeopardy – that’s really up to my mentoring organization, mozdev.

It’s incredible that three of us have suddenly decided to do the same work at this particular time, given that the idea of translating Firefox into Vietnamese has been around for awhile now. Perhaps I can create an “overseas Vietnamese” version (vi-us or vi-x-intl?), while the others create a “domestic Vietnamese” version (vi-vn), since the overseas Vietnamese community retains an older version of the language. I just hope that I can go forward with my project somehow, because I really look forward to contributing a significant bit of work to the Mozilla project.

You can also read a similar message cross-posted at the vi mailing list at mozdev.org.


  1. For those few of you who’ve been following my project page for the Google Summer of Code, I’m no longer translating Mozilla Firefox; instead I’ll translate its much-neglected younger sibling Thunderbird.


  1. Albert Trinh

    Hmmm....quite interesting that such a thing happens. But isn't it rather normal? My dad works with patents, and he always has to check for random conflicts like yours. And I bet there's less people working on the same invention than working on the same translation - everyone has a computer.

  2. I suppose that’s true, but you have to wonder why everyone (including me) chose these past two months to start working on this particular translation, when people have called for this work so many times.

  3. Michael vo

    how much do you know about computer information technology?

  4. I suppose I know quite a bit, but IT isn’t something I’d like to have a career in – I’m more interested in artificial intelligence and that kind of computer-related research.

    Why do you ask?