Sahana installation poised for Myanmar disaster support

posted on: May 10, 2008

Upon the request from Lanka software, we have successfully brought up a virtualized Sahana instance.

You can see it here: https://sahana.instedd.org

(Note you may need to ignore a certificate warning to see this until we deploy a new certificate for this server)

Learn more about Sahana at: http://sahana.lk

Juan was instrumental in getting the Debian virtualized image running well on our Red Hat host OS, thank you! The compressed Sahana VM is about 300mb, which will allow a quick re-deployment of a hardened configuration in Myanmar as necessary. I think this VM would be a good asset to keep around, allowing anyone running Windows or Linux to bring up a running Sahana server with little to no effort.

Volunteer-based Sahana localization effort

Sahana sporting a mix of Burmese and Sinhala

There are over 30 volunteers across 4 continents working on localizing Sahana to Burmese. We ran into multiple issues, most stemming from the lack of Unicode standardization of Burmese. We are using Google Spreadsheets to coordinate the work (the embedded live chat is an amazing feature for live coordination) and folks are using mostly MS Word to do the translations, which we accumulate on a Google Groups page. Many thanks to all involved, I’m afraid to start mentioning folks by name because I’ll mess things up or miss key individuals. Jesse Robbins blogged about this in O’Reilly Radar, and Bill Behrman from Stanford has worked his rolodex though which helped us get additional volunteers. Many folks at the NetHope summit had the chance to refer folks as well. Thanks!

Google Groups for localization

Translation is hard – especially for the fonts and encodings to work together. See the awesome burglish site to see what I mean… the translated docs end up having strings like tcef;u¾rsm; which is really encoded Wwin_burmese, which would look like this with Padauk image 

image

Burglish project

One of the main issues with the localization is that it isn’t just about translating strings-  there is also a need to accept input in the right format. This isn’t trivial with all combinations of fonts and input methods people use, and especially not trivial on a web page that has to work in multiple browsers!

There is also ongoing work on InSTEDD’s GeoChat system with usual suspects and new volunteers, preparing for a potential use in Myanmar, which is topic of another blog post entirely.

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