Localizing Asterisk for China
This last week, we set up a bunch of the IT infrastructure at Mozilla’s new Chinese office. My primary part of the process was setting up their phone system. We used Asterisk, of course, seeing as how we already use that for our phone systems in Mountain View and Toronto. Asterisk has a really cool feature that lets you put localized sound files in for the voice prompts, and each device and incoming phone line can be set up to default to a particular language. It will use the localized files for that language, if available, and fall back on the English ones if they aren’t. You can also allow users to change which language they get with a little careful scripting (“Press 1 for English”, etc). We set it up so that dialing from any phones in the Beijing office will get Chinese prompts, dialing into the Beijing office from outside will get Chinese prompts, and dialing into the Beijing office via the links to our other offices will get English prompts.
One of the difficulties we’ve run into is that there’s no official Chinese language pack for Asterisk, and the only unofficial Chinese language pack we could find is fairly incomplete. You’ll be listening to something in Chinese (like the instructions for voicemail) and suddenly get a word or two of English in the middle of it. I ended up spending a fair portion of this week trying to set up a nice friendly web app the folks in the office can use to easily see which files have been localized and which haven’t, and allow them to record their own localized files and have them automatically go where they need to go. Other folks might find it useful, so I’ll try to get it posted somewhere once I get it fixed up a little (it’s a bit of a quick and dirty hack still right now, but it’s getting there).