The so different frontend community and how we deal with it

Published on 6/30/2014

Long time ago I could read and learn about web development in Russian only. Later, having completed an English language course, I began to read articles and blogs in English more and more. The same went for conferences: I visited Russian-speaking conferences at first and later switched to English-speaking conferences in Europe. In both articles and conference talks, I noticed how the content was different depending on the language used. Sometime I even thought that the communities evolve in different ways and follow different directions. My Russian-speaking colleagues indeed know the "HTML/CSS markup with independent blocks" article by Vitaly Harisov. He published this in 2008 and outlined the main principles of HTML/CSS development which is known as BEM nowadays. We can say that was the moment BEM started being used in Russia and neighbouring countries. As for English-speaking developers, they learned about BEM only in 2012 from my article in SmashingMagazine. Then, as you might know, Harry Roberts caught sight of that and thanks to his publications BEM became known to the rest of the world.

Thus, 4 years passed since the technology was released until a typical English-speaking web developer got a chance to learn about it. This could have been enough time for a technology to mature and slowly die.

No doubt, a better option would be to make it available back in 2008. I suppose that modular trend on the web would have started earlier and we would have got the results faster. Today we would use Web Components (they implement some component ideas of BEM) everywhere (and for a long time, already).

With all this in mind, I decided to dedicate some of my free time to publish translations on my blog. So the translated articles on Ymaps modules and BEML were published. I also had more articles in the queue for translation. Reading a lot of developer blogs in Russian, I realized that a lot of interesting content is still being produced. "Is this for Russia only?" I asked myself.

Imagine all these new approaches, libraries, and frameworks that exist today all over the world!.. but you will never learn them because their authors publish in Arabic, Spanish, Japanese or other languages you do not speak.

Nevertheless, we frontend developers have a wonderful community. Open source culture and technologies like GitHub enable us to help each other and get better results together. To contribute, one does not have to be an expert. For example, many products get their documentation improved just with the help of people who like the project.

This encouraged me to create a collaboration web site for translating frontend articles from local languages into English.

The project is called Frontend Babel and here is the URL: http://frontendbabel.info. Technically, it is a statically generated blog (thanks to DocPad). Any person can take it and run a local copy, then add a translated article and submit a pull request into the original source.

The first couple of articles were already translated by Max Shirshin. These are:

You can already share these links with your English-speaking colleagues :-)

Max and I have plans to translate more during the next weeks. I encourage all of you who knows Arabic, Japanese, Polish, French, Spanish (and any other language) to join the project and help us translate. English-speaking developers can do proofreading.

Translating into a foreign language is hard work indeed, but with the help of English-speaking people in our community, we will get the texts improved. So, if you were thinking about writing in English, this may be a good chance to start and learn.

Interesting articles will attract visitors. With this, both an author and a translator get more attention on the web and establish new proffesional contacts throught their websites and social networks.

Always remember: a contribution to an open source project can be small, but it is always appreciated! Here are just some ideas on what you can do:

  • Add new source articles into our task queue
    If you know an interesting article worth to be published, create an issue about it. So another contributer can grab this task and translate it.
  • Push new translations
    Find a nice article in a language you know, translate it into English and publish on this website.
  • Tell friends about the project
    Mentioning this project in social networks and your blog posts you can involve people from all over the world!
  • Fix English in the texts
    If you spot a grammatical error, you can edit an article (there is a link to an editor below) and submit a pull request.
  • Propose site changes
    Suggest what can be improved on this web site by adding your ideas to the list of issues.
  • Grab an issue to do

Your contributions will help improve this project a lot!