Translating an open-source software (poEdit)

Translating a software

Contribution to open-source world can be either acheived by participating actively on forums (support), but also by translate applications (among others).
Tt can be frustrating to make use of some complex applications in a language that you poorly understand.

The translation files used used are in *.po or *.mo. Simply retreive the original file and edit it with poEdit.

If you use Linux, you can use the GetText utility, to compile the *.po file in *.mo. For example, you can edit the translations of a theme under WordPress!


poEdit allows you to:

  • Translate automatically, according to a database,
  • View ergonomically in a dual pane interface,the original version and its translation.
  • To choose the target language of translation.

This software is available for Windows, GNU / Linux, Mac OS X (with the source code).


  • Debian : apt-get install poedit
  • Ubuntu : sudo apt-get install poedit
  • Mandriva : urpmi poedit

Getting Started

The software can be accessed via the following menus: Application > Development > Translation. You can also use the console with the poedit command, but remember

that upon closing the console, poEdit will also close (your unsaved work will be lost)

At first use, the software asks you to create a database that will later help to perform automatic translation. This is rather long but necessary if you want an

automated translation.


Time to get serious! To translate a software, first we must get the *.po file by visiting the official website of the application. In short, it is the source.

Typically, this file is contained in a /po/ directory. It is also possible that this file is directly available through a dedicated page (This is the case with Xara LX).

Open the file with poEdit and launch the automated translation (optional) using the Catalog > Translate automatically with TM menus.
Note that: machine (automatic) translation can be quite rough and there are several color codes (text background) that will be used to indicate the type of correction to be performed:

  • Blue background: to translate fully
  • Yellow background: Translation check
  • White background: validated translation
  • Validating a translation: click to the left of the original version, or press <Alt+U>


  • Not all items are to be translated! Some parts contain variables (programming) that should not be altered!
  • Variables are preceded by the "%" sign that must be maintained.
    • For example: &Mettre à &jour #1%s will be translated as &Update #1%s

Other Translation Software

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