CSE498, Collaborative Design, Spring 2019
Computer Science and Engineering
Michigan State University

Mozilla’s mission is to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Mozilla is most well-known for its browser Firefox, their main effort in making this vision a reality.

Firefox, with its more than 250 million active users, is available in 98 languages. However, only 40 percent of those users consider English their primary language. Previously, in order to change Firefox to a new language, users were required to select the new language and restart the browser.

To make changing languages easier, Mozilla created Fluent, a new technology that allows the Firefox interface to have more natural sounding and culturally appropriate translations. This type of translation is called localization.

Our Optimizing Firefox Localization tools enable Firefox developers to work more efficiently, spending less time catching small mistakes and more time integrating Fluent.

Our tools use a cutting-edge technology called WebAssembly, which is a new computing language designed specifically for modern web browsers like Firefox. WebAssembly speeds up the time to load Firefox in different languages. Translation to a new language is made with a simple setting change in the browser.

Optimization of the localization system is achieved by the integration of a Rust implemented parser through the use of WebAssembly, a version of JavaScript that achieves near native performance. These two factors decrease the time it takes to switch Firefox to a new language by one to two orders of magnitude.