Format/style of UI message

Pino Toscano ptoscano at
Fri Jul 17 15:01:47 UTC 2020


I recently took a look at the UI/user visible messages from libvirt,
which are translated using gettext. They are extracted in a single
libvirt.pot catalog, which includes messages from itself
(mostly, if not all, errors), the separate daemons, the helper tools,
and from virsh.

I noticed there is plently of room for improvements: what strikes is
the lack of consistency among the messages. Let me state first: I
understand that not all the people are native English speakers
(I am not), so I'm not picking against anyone.

Some examples:

a) different capitalization:
- "cannot open %s"
- "Cannot open %s"

b) different quoting for files/identifiers/etc:
- "Cannot open %s"
- "Cannot open '%s'"

c) different verbs for failed actions:
- "Cannot frobnicate ..."
- "Could not frobnicate ..."
- "Did not frobnicate ..."
- "Failed to frobnicate ..."
- "Unable to frobnicate ..."
depending on the message, also "frobbing failed"

d) sometimes contractions ("couldn't", "don't", etc), sometimes not
("could not", "do not", etc)

e) what QEMU/etc supports:
- "... by this QEMU binary"
- "... for this QEMU binary"
- "... in this QEMU binary"
- "... with this QEMU binary"
- "... by this QEMU"
- "... for this QEMU"
- "... with this QEMU"
- "... with this binary" [in a QEMU file]
- "... [supported] by qemu"
there is also "qemu does not support ...", which I think it can stay
for now; also both "available [by/for/etc]" and "supported [by/for/etc]"
are used

I can give it a try in fixing the messages to be more consistent all
around; before I start the mass editing, I need to know which style to

a) it seems like the virError fields @message, @str1, @str2 and @str3
are joined together in reporting/log strings like "error: <text>";
hence, should they be not capitalized? It may look OK in English, but
less nice and hard to fix in translations.
Obviously, sentences as shown in tools (e.g. virsh) definitely need to
be properly capitalized.

b) should identifiers such as filenames, paths, XML tags, JSON fields,
etc be always quoted?

c) which verb to use when something failed? "could not" is a subjective
thing, not a past action; "failed" seems to imply that something was
attempted; "did not" seems to imply that it was not done, but nothing
whether it was attempted; the rest sort of indicate the ability to do

d) allow contractions or not? They are generally used in spoken/informal
language, and while libvirt is not that formal it should not be that
colloquial either IMHO; also, they make the text slightly harder to
understand by non-native speakers, and they are lost when translating.
A POV on the matter is:

e) which message to use to indicate that QEMU does not support

Pino Toscano
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