August 2, 2018 12:35 pm

Documentation and localization at Dash

Documentation and localization at Dash

Why do we need this?

Everyone has that one friend or colleague who always needs help finding where they saved that important Word document, connecting to the printer or opening a ZIP file attached to an email. Thankfully, basic computer and internet skills like these have become increasingly widespread in recent years. But cryptocurrencies like Dash are relatively new entrants to the scene, and bring with them many confusing new concepts, terms and processes, many of which cannot be explained through familiar metaphors. The ongoing popularity of Amanda B. Johnson’s Dash School series shows the value in patiently presenting cryptocurrency concepts in a way accessible to users with different levels of skill and understanding. With this in mind, Dash Core Group began an effort in 2017 to improve our formal documentation, and in 2018 to offer quality translations of many of our products, with the goal of making common concepts and tasks in Dash accessible to everyone.


The Dash Documentation aims to provide an easy point of entry to get started with Dash, regardless of your existing level of knowledge. It is structured around common tasks, and a great deal of the content was written in direct response to questions frequently asked on Dash social networks and chat groups. It is broken into four main sections:

  • First steps: Designed for new users, this section introduces users to cryptocurrencies in general and Dash specifically, with a great deal of detail on unique Dash features, an expansive glossary, details on how to buy Dash and categorized links to further reading and videos, where possible in the user’s native language.
  • Users: This section covers all common tasks relating to downloading, installing and syncing our various wallets, as well as information on advanced features and troubleshooting. Since wallets are just one part of using money, information on where you can earn and spend Dash is also presented here.
  • Merchants: This section contains simple recommendations and detailed walkthroughs on how to work with Dash at your business, as well as many technical details on how to support InstantSend and the various SDKs and APIs that may be necessary for more advanced deployments.
  • Network: Here, we discuss the decentralized network itself and the processes that make it work. Mining, masternode guides, proposals, voting and the treasury system are all described in considerable detail here, as well as presentation of community and core marketing content.

The Dash Documentation has recently undergone a massive overhaul, with all pages and content revised into clear English and restructured to be oriented around tasks, rather than products. During this process, the entire platform was migrated from the legacy Atlassian Confluence system to a new home on the Read the Docs platform. Read the Docs is a documentation hosting platform designed for open source software projects, and built using open source software. This alignment with our own open source software philosophy, as well as the added ability to support versioning, simple and automated import and export of content and thoughtfully designed localization processes helped us make the decision to switch to this popular documentation system as a best practice. Like our software products, all source files required to build the documentation are freely available under an open source license on GitHub.

This video introduces the Dash Documentation platform in more detail:

Dash: Documentation System


While English is the most widely spoken language in the world, it is a second language for the majority of speakers. Given the newness of cryptocurrencies and the risk of making potentially expensive mistakes, Dash is promoting localization of our user-facing products into a number of major languages reduce the barriers to access the blockchain ecosystem. The following products are currently targeted for localization:

  • Dash website
  • Dash documentation
  • Dash wallets (Core, iOS, Android)
  • Marketing content (print/web graphics, presentations, video subtitles)

Many of these products have already launched, and we are pleased to announce the launch of the entire documentation platform in Spanish with this blog post. We welcome comments and feedback on this project, as well as ongoing contributions and suggestions for new topics to cover. Since each product is built in a different way, translations are included as they are created (with English as a fallback language), and are subject to ongoing review and improvement. Some products, like Dash Core, are able to benefit from existing translations from Bitcoin Core, although quality review is often necessary for this.

Like software development, there is no such thing as a perfect, finished translation. The underlying English documents are constantly changing, and these changes must be tracked and versioned so translators can clearly see what needs updating in their language. Crucially, many of these changes are minor, so it is important that the translation system can highlight these changes and provide machine-assisted suggestions to avoid wasted effort creating translations that may already exist. The tone and tense is also important in grammar-heavy languages, so most languages include several translators reviewing each other’s work to deliver content that reads as if it was written natively in that language to begin with. This results in a much smoother experience for the end user.

In recognition of the long support from our diverse international community, preference was given to community translators when coordinating this work. As recognized by most technical translation agencies, a translator familiar with the subject matter will likely deliver a superior translation in a shorter time than a certified translator with no experience in cryptocurrencies. However, some training is necessary to ensure proper use of syntax when writing the translation, so (somewhat recursively) documentation on how to translate has been prepared and translated as well.

A translation push was started in June 2018, targeting 21 priority languages for products with limited word counts, as well offering translation management services to volunteer translators interesting in translating into non-priority languages. Language priority was determined based on the size of the population base speaking the language, the potential interest and need for cryptocurrencies in countries speaking the language and observed web traffic and app downloads from users requesting the language. For cost reasons, the Dash Documentation was only targeted for full translation into 7 languages, due to the high word count of this product. Partial translations remain an option for the documentation in the future. The following chart shows progress to date:

Dash product translation progress as of August 2018

Localization is managed on the Transifex translation platform. Like Read the Docs, Transifex leverages open source software and interfaces readily with our various development tools. Transifex is free to use for translators, and provides a number of tools (such as translation memory, sanity checks and concordance search) to ensure consistency and quality as different translators join and leave their language team.

Would you like to see your language added here or contribute a translation? We are always interested in establishing relationships with new translators from the Dash community, so get in touch any time!

This video introduces Dash translation processes in more detail:

Dash: Translating with Transifex

About the author

Leon White