New Localization API guide, much better code reviews

This story started almost a year ago, when I published my cheat sheet for the Drupal 6 localization API. Although Drupal 6 was not ready at that time, the localization API was as stable that the cheat sheet is useful without modification even today.

My intention with the cheat sheet was to start a localization API guide on Drupal.org and get the intricate details of this API documented for the general good. Over the past few weeks, i've managed to have time to actually sit down and document best practices and tips for these functions, and published the Localization API guide as part of the Drupal.org developer handbook (it is worth to check out the printer friendly version for a quick glance). While some parts of the guide are still under discussion and finalization (and I still plan two pages: one on emails and the other one on pointers for people looking to translate user provided data), the guide is pretty much complete as far as localizing the interface goes.

Another side of that old blog post of mine was new Translation template extractor support for the coder module. Well, that was basically tapping the existing errors into coder and make you figure out the rest. The existing error messages in extractor were however quite cryptic, like Invalid marker: t($joe). This is not really helpful in finding out what is the issue at hand, when you are not familiar with the finer details. This was unhelpful for both module authors and code reviewers, who were eager to fix these problems. I got several support requests in the extractor issue queue to clarify guidelines. So updating the error messages was clearly in order.

The result of these two efforts is that the latest development version of the extractor on the 6.x-2.x branch (update from CVS or wait for today's tarball to materialize) now supports nicely understandable error messages for coder module (and way better error messages for its standalone mode just as well) with links to the actual documentation explaining the underlying causes and details. This will hopefully end up in a new release very soon.

So do you have any excuses left to not write nicely translatable Drupal module interfaces?

To shoot yourself in the foot: maintain multiple branches

One of the rules with Drupal.org hosted projects is to not introduce radical API changes (or depending on your understanding even new features) in point releases of stable branches of contributed modules, so you are supposed to open a new branch. The hell starts to break loose however, if you don't have an eye on what is actually happening in your branches. This happened to me and it affected the Drupal 6 translation efforts so it was just the right time yesterday to finally clean it up. Here's the story.