Applicom's Blog

Product updates, news & miscellanea from your fellow Apollo developers.

This blog has moved! Head to the Building Apollo blog »

Tony Mobily's picture
By Tony Mobily
Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - 22:59

Apollo and language support: a success story of good software and outstanding community

When we released the translators' application for Apollo a few days ago, we didn't quite realise how quickly Apollo would become a multi-lingual service. We emailed a few people who had offered their help at the very beginning, thinking that it would be a good way to get a few strings translated and to test out our application. We were convinced it would take a few months to translate the 1800 odd strings in Apollo. We were wrong: within the first few days, Dutch was completed (thanks Thijs Kaspers!). We assumed it was an isolated case: we were wrong. Very wrong! In the next few days, four more languages progressed a lot. More and more people joined up and started translating, quickly. Right now French, German, Swedish and Polish are nearly complete.

What was the reason of this great success?

I think there are three sides to this story: an application needs to be written well; the translation application needs to encourage invite people to translate more and more; and users need to love the application and be committed to it. I believe we had all three ingredients, and we simply created the "perfect storm".

Apollo's been a multi-lingual program since day one. Every string in Apollo was treated in such a way that translating it later down the track would be simple. Doing so in an application like Apollo was challenging: there is text both in the javascript side of the story, and in the server scripts. It was a lot of careful work -- work which cannot be called "rewarding". In fact, it was quite the opposite: each string needed to be given a unique ID, and a category.

The translators' application has been yet another important part of this success. Apollo's about 1800 strings. Each one needs to be translated. Showing translators a long list of strings, just like that, would have most likely alienated them. It would have definitely alienated us! We divided the translation strings into sections, and then sub-sections. We provided clear feedback when users completed a sub-section of the application, which only included a handful of strings. Those strings were also closely related; so, users were more inclined to finishing a whole section once they started. We made sure we provided a nice visual feedback when a sub-section was completed. Basically, the translation clearly told users how much they had translated, in a positive way, and encouraged them. And, according to reports, it got addictive!

The third ingredient was the most important one: our users. People out there use Apollo every day. They love the application, and have their clients talk to them through Apollo every day. They love the thought that their customers, as well as themselves, can use Apollo in their own language. When the translators' application came out, some of them literally bounced on it -- and got a lot of the work done.

Apollo is now available in several languages. Users can suggest a better translation for specific sentences they don't like. More importantly, they can use Apollo in their own language -- and it's an effort that implies constant improvement.

As I said, it was a perfect storm that benefited everybody.

4 comments so far

Thijs Kaspers's picture

Thijs Kaspers

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 05:11


This is an awesome update i've been waiting for ever since i've been using Apollo! Thanks for implementing it! It took me quite some time to translate everything, but in my opinion it was worth it. I hope I did a good job :)

Perhaps not everything is 100% right yet, but I'll try to make the necessary corrections (along with other people) over the next couple of weeks whilst using Apollo.


Tony Mobily's picture

Tony Mobily

Thu, 08/11/2011 - 17:08



You were a fantastic inspiration for us. In fact, *you* are the person who inspired this very blog entry!
Your efforts are very much appreciated -- by us, and all of the Dutch users our there.



Fabian Vargas's picture

Fabian Vargas

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 12:36



Anyone working on the spanish version of Apollo?

Can I help?

Thanks a lot!!

applicomhq's picture


Tue, 08/23/2011 - 17:39


Hi Fabian,

At the moment, Spanish is 70% there. Go to (use your login/password to login) and have a look!