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Hemen zaude: Hasiera / Blogak / Ingelesen hilerria / The English Cemetery / Political case study for Localizer/Zope in Europython

Political case study for Localizer/Zope in Europython

Luistxo Fernandez 2005/06/27 16:20

Next wednesday, on June 27, my coleagues from CodeSyntax Josu Azpillaga and Mikel Larreategi will give a presentation at then Europython 2005, meeting in Goteborg (Sweden), about success case studies involving Localizer. They are going to talk about the the last election process in the Basque Country (held in april 2005). These were the first elections in Spain in which blogs, W3c-validated sites and truly dynamic websites were used by campaigners in the Internet.

Acustomer of us won, , fully Zope, fully bilingual thanks to Localizer. The task that we had as Internet web providers for this client was:

  1. The message of the political campaign, which would be distributed by mainstream media channels or usual electoral activities, had to be present in the Internet as well.
  2. The candidate had to be the smartest and most modern. As far as Internet and tech usage was involved, we wanted the website to excel above the rest.

As webmakers, we were fairly satisfied with the results in both fronts, and we believe that the client (a coalition of parties, not a personal campaigner, although the campaign was very much personalized in his person, in Juan Jose Ibarretxe) was happy as well. Feedback and references received in Internet (particularly blogs and else that we tracked through Technorati and Bloglines) and some comparatives, showed good results.

The main point for success were:

  • Good design, usable and fast. Campaign image (created by external advertising agencies) was smoothly integrated. No friction between advertisers, the client and the webmakers.
  • RSS, standarsds, validating HTML... No other candidates offered anything like that.
  • Content, always renewed, well structured, multimedia files as well.
  • Blogs, a novelty in political communication in Spain, and other spicy sections, like a and RSS based linkroll with commented links (mostly ironic comments about anti-Ibarretxe articles).
  • Perfect bilingualism in Basque and Spanish, sustained by good i18n and l10n.

That will the point at Gotebor, how we managed languages in this complex website, with Zope and Localizer.

We were very pleased with the result achieved.

Interfaces were well localised, and coordinated with other services (email notifications or the software for the newsletters, Mailman, was localised as well in Spanish and Basque, and tuned with the language choice originated in the website).

Content was parallel in many parts of the website, but other parts were asymmetric. In symmetric parts, language change worked in every page, even in videos concerning a particular issue.

But for asymmetric content, we had thought about that as well. The blog, for instance. There's no thing like a bilingual thread... There has to be a blog in one language, and another one, with different posts and comments in other language. The based linkroll was also asymmetric.

Language-policy was also tuned accordingly to the client's preference. In this case, no entry page to choose language. The front page appeared in one or other language depending on browser language preference. We discussed positive discrimination about Basque, but the client decided the other option. Not a bad choice, in our opinion. In the credits section we put it clear, how users could tune their browser if they wanted to see the frontpage in Basque. However, that was for the first visit, in following visits, a cookie remembered each users' last language of interaction in the website.

Using Localizer

These points described above could be achieved with Localizer. Many features of the product were used. Perhaps all features? Maybe...

  • Language policy, of course, like the one that we describe, or many other configurations, can be set up with Localizer.-
  • Interface messages using a messahe catalog. Of course, variables are needed, not dumb dictionaries, and Localizer provided it. It must be noted that Spanish and Basque are unrelated languages and have very distinct syntaxes. Word order is very odd in Spanish or most European languages, seen from the Basque point of view.
  • Logic in the programming level. Different ways to treat date formats, for instance, or the internal search engine, that searched in two distinct catalogs, one per language.
  • For parallel content, a variable of the LocalContent module created by CodeSyntax was used.
  • For asymmetric content, different localised methods were used, and, for news and the blog, a modified version of Squishdot totally i18n-ed for Localizer.
  • Language change: in parallel content, the changeLanguage method of Localizer works smoothly. But in asymmetric content, we tuned it a little bit with the goto variable... You are reading comments in a blog article and you cannot change the language to see those comments in the other language: it is asymmetric content, no automatic translation exists there... so, the interface language must be changed, but the user also needs to be redirected: in that case, to the blog frontpage in the other language.

Not only technique

Of course, it was not just i18n expertise. The client was commited, and its structures were ready to provide content in both languages as well as to attend feedback of users in Basque and Spanish. Several candidates chatted through the web in realtime, and all of them first interacted in Basque, and then in Spanish, with written questions that came from the web. An ad campaign in Google also targeted Basque and Spanish terms, with adwords written in both languages, and offered clicks to Basque or Spanish pages, accordingly, of course.

So, the candidate finnally won. But his majority was scarce, it must be said, the formation of the regional government has been delayed in the regional parliament for two months, and it was not until this past weekend that Ibarretxe has been appointed lehendakari, that is, president of the Basque autonomous region.

During these two months, the website has worked in a strange mood... like waiting for the future. But, now it will be time to redesign the website for a 4-year term, in which, we hope, the client will manage by themselves this website.


We collected some references comparing the election site of Ibarretxe with others. They are in Spanish, so check the links at the end of this post in Spanish.

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Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

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