Basecamp is being used by companies all over the globe, but until today they’ve had to make do with a user interface in English. That might be fine for creative professionals used to dealing with English in their company, but it’s often a problem for dealing with clients who are more comfortable in their native tongue. We’re tackling that problem today.

The Basecamp interface has been translated into nine languages already and we have even more coming. The languages that are going live today are French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazillian), Dutch, Greek, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish. Italian, Russian, and Slovak are not far behind and will be ready soon.

You can change the language of any company in Basecamp by going to the edit company screen and picking from the language drop-down.

Everyone from that company will now see Basecamp in the selected language. (We’re open to making localization a person-by-person option, but we’re just starting with companies for now.)

Getting a translated interface just right is hard, though. So it’s unlikely that all of these translations are perfect out the gate. But we wanted to get them out there and get some feedback on what we need to improve.

We’ve set up a dedicated mailing list for translations to help connect people willing to work on improvements.

The translation team
We couldn’t have done this without an amazing team working on translations. We’d like to extend a big thank you to the following translators for their hard work. I did a fair share of the Danish translation myself and I can tell you that it’s harder than it sounds to translate the 2,000 strings needed for Basecamp.

If your language is not on the lists mentioned, we could use your help. We’re looking for volunteer Basecamp users that would use the application in their own language to help make it available. Please write david@37signals.com with the subject “Translate Basecamp into LANGUAGE” if you’d like to help.

The Rails infrastructure
The technical side of things relies on the excellent i18n infrastructure already present in Ruby on Rails and a new tool we developed called Tolk. It gives translators a web interface for updating the phrases and can even track things like updated strings. It made translating Basecamp much simpler. It’s completely open source and free for anyone else to use. Enjoy!