Pootle primer

This was originally posted to the mailman-i18n mailing list by Clytie Siddall.


Your current file(s) are available to you from any web browser, any time. The only people who can modify those files are the people who have registered and had translation rights assigned by your language team admin. You have complete control over what happens to your files.

If you are the Mailman Language Champion for your language, once you have registered with Pootle, please email me or Cristóbal with your Pootle username, so we can assign you admin rights on Pootle. This will mean an "Admin" link will appear next to your Mailman project on Pootle. Clicking on this link allows you to assign access rights to newly-registered translators.

People who have just registered and confirmed their registration have the right to View and Suggest translations, by default. This is a good way to introduce inexperienced translators to the task. They can Suggest translations (pressing the Suggest button), but not actually modify your files. You can login and check their suggestions, and give them feedback. More experienced translators can be assigned Translate rights, and there are other access rights, all completely under your control. Your project (translation of the software into your language) belongs to you. Nobody else can modify it in any way, unless you allow them to do so.


You can choose the workflow that suits you best: translate online, translate offline, or a combination of both. When you modify a file offline, you can submit it by uploading it (merge or overwrite) to Pootle. This is a much easier way to submit translation files. If you don't have upload access, you can simply email your file to your language-team leader.

In OpenOffice.org, for example, language teams keep their current files on Pootle, but each translator chooses the workflow that suits him or her most. Depending on the situation at the time, you might have half an hour free, so you can login from a public computer and translate some strings. But when you're at home, you may prefer to download the file and use your favourite offline translation editor. That's fine. Whatever you want to do, the current files will be on Pootle, available to you.

Any language

Pootle comes with a wide range of pre-installed languages, so you can use Pootle in your own language. If your language is new to Pootle, all you have to do is email the Pootle admins (Cristóbal or me) and ask that we add your language to the server. Cristóbal, the Translate Wiki maintains a list of plurals expressions and language codes.

If you would like to translate the Pootle interface to your language, please register with the Locamotion Pootle and ask those admins to add you to their server. This is the Pootle where development and new interface translations occur. (It also hosts the Decathlon translation project: check it out. )


The Pootle docs (also available in the Docs and Help link]) contain everything you need to know about Pootle, so please read them. However, I'll go on with a summary here.

You can download your translation file(s) at any time from your Pootle project directory. Look for the "Zip Archive" link at the top of the page, to download a whole directory of files, or for the "PO format" link next to each file (when you've clicked on Show Editing Functions), to download a single file. As you can see, you can download your file in different formats.

Barry, if you want to download all the PO files at once, you're better off downloading them from bzr. Pootle splits the files into language-projects.


If you have upload rights, each directory will include a file selection field and button in the top right-hand corner of the page. You can choose to Merge or Overwrite files. Unless your Pootle server is overloaded, you should use Merge, to avoid overwriting changes that have occurred since you downloaded your file. The changes are processed immediately: you can start editing that merged file as soon as you have uploaded it.

Barry, I strongly suggest we keep the most current files on Pootle (Mailman 3.0?), even for testing. We can upload all the different branches, as well, but our translation effort is best spent working on the current files.


Pootle is just a part of your workflow: please backup your work! Although Pootle does backup its day's work, it doesn't backup every single string as soon as you enter it. This would take up too much of its resources. So it's always wise to download your file or directory when you finish your editing session. That way, you have a local copy of your changes. You can take that away, and edit it offline, then merge it back up to Pootle again, later.


Once you click on Show Editing Functions, Pootle will show some links next to each file: the most commonly-used ones are:

Quick Translate — translate only blank and fuzzy strings (good for updates)
Translate All — go through the whole file (good for new translations, and for reviews)

For other functions, see the docs.

Once you click on Quick Translate or Translate All, Pootle will take you to the first string. You will see buttons:

  • Back — go back to the previous string
  • Ignore — skip this string
  • Copy — copy the original string into this field (good for formatted or complex strings)
  • Suggest — don't modify the translation, but suggest a change (good for new translators and review)
  • Submit — modify the file by implementing your current translation string

You can also extend or shrink the input field, using the buttons Larger and Smaller.

The comment field below is for translator comments, so you can leave messages for other translators, or read their messages.

Developer comments and msgctxt contextual information will be shown on the left-hand side, with the string header.

Note that Pootle supports syntax highlighting (a user feature-request recently implemented): those messy HTML templates from Mailman will be much easier to read!


Firstly, please read the introductory docs and try out the interface. If you have further questions, you're welcome to ask them here.

Also, each project has its own needs. The Pootle developers welcome your suggestions (including feature requests). Each version brings enhancements, especially when a new project starts using Pootle. Pootle gives us options, and what it learns from us also goes on to help others.

Please don't see Pootle as limiting your options in any way. It is there to give you more choices. You can go on doing things in exactly the way you always have, but simply accessing the current files from Pootle. Or you can try out some of Pootle's very useful features.

It's entirely up to you.


Barry Warsaw

We (the Pootle admins) must verify that a written disclaimer has been received by the FSF before we should allow a person to translate. It's possible that they already have disclaimed their translations.

MailmanWiki: DEV/Pootle primer (last edited 2015-03-04 05:46:33 by msapiro)