Japanese is another language Practical API Design book has been translated to. There were few other languages the book had been translated before, but as far as I can tell, the Japanese translation (done by Yoshiki Shibata) is going to be the best. Let me tell you why.
The German Obsession
One of my colleagues is a very good engineer and helped me a lot with his integration of Mylyn into NetBeans (enabled by my work on Netbinox). It is always fun to work with him. Once I tried to find out why and asked him about his past. He told me that he used to work in Germany before joining NetBeans. In fact I should have realized that sooner. He likes German cars, because of their quality. He believes a typical engineer should be as pinktlich as a German engineer. He speaks better German than English and often uses Ja (instead of Yes) even while speaking English.
I am just trying to demonstrate that he thinks about Germany in a positive way.
Tea Drinking Rituals
Me and my colleague share more than the interest in NetBeans - we like to drink good tea - with a small difference: while I prefer Oolongs, usually from China or Taiwan, he is dead set on Japanese teas. I have to admit I recognize genmaicha (because of the rice), but I am incapable to differentiate between bancha and sencha.
Tomáš (as that is my colleague's name) however feels differently. He can talk ages about differences between two senchas. He pays attention to the slightest variation in quality of leaves, smell, color, etc. He orders the teas directly from Japanese farmers and when the packs (only with Japanese calligraphic symbols) arrive, he uses the Internet to find out which pack is what and how to properly prepare it.
He uses to say that Japanese are Germans of the East - not only they can make cars, but also create the best tea on the Planet and pay attention to details. Btw. I remember him being amazed when receiving a tea with a hand written dedication to Tomáš - how could somebody in Japan realize that this is his first name and not confuse it with Stupka - his last one!? Something like that would not happen when ordering a darjeeling!
You can imagine that my expectations (after continuous massaging by Tomáš and his teas) were really high when I got contacted by Yoshiki. However whatever I was expecting, was matched since the beginning!
Few of my books had already been translated, but never I had been contacted by the translator before the work finished. Usually I've just got a package with my book in a language I could not read and that was it. No communication, no questions, just a notification of the end result. Nothing against that, being read, translated is a dream of every author. However being contacted sooner than the work starts is a completely different level! It gives the author a chance to cooperate - which is what we did.
Sense for Details
Yoshiki really has great sense for details (as Tomáš predicted). In one of his first comments (and there were over seventy!) Yoshiki realized a problem on page 43 - List has been added in JDK 1.2, and not 1.3. Who would remember? That happened so long ago! None of the reviewers realized and all of them were lazy to check. Not Yoshiki - that is an pinktlich attitude!
Lost in Translation
Sometimes Yoshiki pointed out something that obviously got lost in a translation (e.g. when my Czenglish was translated to English) and even I had a hard time understanding my original intention with the text after all those years. At that moment I had to think and explain in different words what I had meant before - as a result just because of asking a question Yoshiki could match my original Czenglish intents more closely than the English version! There were many situations like this (see list of contributed Yoshiki's Errata), but let me remind one more different.
Feel for the Language
Once Yoshiki sent me an email which started: Hello Jaroslave! (please note the e at the end of my name). Not only Yoshiki could tell what is my first name, but he also somehow realized that some Slavic languages have vocative case and was striving for details so much that he learned that when applied to my name it requires adding e to the nominative of my name to form a vocative - e.g. Jaroslave. Needless to say I was and stay amazed!
Due to all Yoshiki's preciseness and questions I tend to believe the Japanese version of TheAPIBook will more properly explain my thoughts than the English version (of course I will use the comments to improve Errata, starting today). Everyone who can read Japanese, please enjoy the translated version. Congratulation for your great work, Yoshiki!
At the end Tomáš taught me to recognize and value one Japanese tea type: matcha (by giving me a matcha set on my fortieth birthday). Now I am a great admirer of Japanese tea and Japanese sense for details in translations. Thanks Tomáši, and Yoshiki!
PodcastAs a tribute to quality of the Japanese translation we included its promotion into API Design Tips series podcast. Listen here:
I am amazed, the Japanese version is about 30% shorter, yet is seems to contain all the content of the original one!