Solar Explorer 2.6.15: Speaking your language
The new version of Solar Explorer has been completely reworked to support the French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese languages. I’ve started with these because they are all based on the latin character set, which is supported by the font that’s built into the app.
To support the new languages, I’ve opted to use excerpts from Wikipedia for the non-English languages. Users who speak English will continue to see the original text. I’ve also added a button to take the user to the related wikipedia page for every single planet, moon and spacecraft in the app.
Speaking of Wikipedia, what a mess! I had originally hoped to scrape wikipedia to extract the text excerpts I needed as there’s over 30 different pages of text used, which need to be available in five different languages. That’s a total of 150 separate extracts that had to be created. Wikipedia has a lot of different ways of extracting the text, but I was unable to find any that removed all the formatting codes that Wikipedia uses. It seems that every article author and page handles the layout using a selection of different short codes and techniques. To top it off, there’s loads of pages with broken tags such as missing brackets. The python script that I started with quickly turned into a mess of double and triple checks for the unique mistakes in each file.
In the end I gave up and manually extracted the first couple of paragraphs from each of the the 150 pages. Including all the manual double checking and removal of formatting codes, it took me 15 hours and gave me a splitting headache.
There’s actually been a lot of changes behind the scenes to support multiple languages. I’ve had to change the font used in the app to support a larger number of different characters. I’ve had to change the wording of many buttons and labels in the app so they wouldn’t be too big in a different language. The size of fonts and buttons has also had to be adjusted to support certain languages. Take the FAQ button on the Latest News page. It’s three characters in English, French and German. There’s no acronym in Spanish though, so it’s written as “Preguntas más frecuentes”. That’s why the FAQ button is now much bigger.
Assuming I haven’t made any huge mistakes, there will be more languages to come in later releases. If you spot an weird translation text, then please let me know.
For new installs, the user will be prompted to select a languages. Existing users can find the available languages on the settings page. There’s also a new checkbox that will let you keep the original English text for the info box if you choose a non-English language.
I also fixed a bug that caused planets to be selected if their tag was under the info box while the user scrolled the text.
Finally, Google appear to have quietly decided to drop support for Android Froyo 2.2. I attempted to upload the update to Solar Exporer Pro HD, but it was rejected because the minimum is now Android 2.3. I’ve been forced to move it to Gingerbread. I remember back-in-the-day when my HTC Desire was stuck on 2.1 Eclair because my Mobile carrier couldn’t be bothered to provide an update. If anyone has any problems with the forced move to Gingerbread, please contact me.