Friday 31 December 2010 — This is over 12 years old. Be careful.
Internationalizing an application consists of two broad areas of work: marking all the human text for translation, and then localizing (translating) them all into whatever languages you want to support. The first phase is tricky because after you’ve marked a string for translation, it still looks the same, because there isn’t yet a translation for it. So you start with an English application, and then do a bunch of work to find and mark all the strings, and what you end up with looks and behaves exactly the same, if you’ve done it right.
This makes it difficult to know that you’ve marked all the strings. The end result is precisely as if you had done nothing at all. If you miss a string, you won’t find out until you get back a translation, and try it out. And then you’re looking at your application in a foreign language, which if you are like me, means you don’t understand what you’re reading.
To solve these problems on a recent project, I wrote this little script. Before describing it, let’s review the mechanics of localizing an application, in this case, a Django application:
- Edit all your source to mark strings for translation, with trans tags and gettext() function calls.
- Run the makemessages script to extract all the marked strings into .po files, one for each language.
- Have someone edit each .po file, entering translations for every string.
- Compile the edited .po files into binary .mo files that will be used during execution.
- Set the language for the app, and run it to see your awesome translated application!
I can do all of these steps myself except number 3. Step 3 is also the time-consuming one that likely will be done far away from you, and so on: it’s the difficult part. This poxx.py replaces step 3. It munges a .po file, creating synthetic “translations” for your strings. With it, you can see your application in a pseudo-translated state that lets you know that you’ve properly marked strings for translation, and shows you where you haven’t yet marked them. I use poxx.py to create a translation for the language “xx” (hence the name poxx.py), then set my application to use language “xx”.
What poxx.py does is create a “translation” by swapping the case of all the vowels. So where your English site shows “Please log in to comment,” your poxx’ed site will show “PlEAsE lOg In tO cOmmEnt.” You can still read the text, but the translated and the un-translated stand out from one another, all without need for an actual speaker of another language.
Most of the complexity in poxx.py arises from the fact that the text in a .po file is not all human readable: HTML tags and data replacement tokens should be left alone. So it uses a simple HTML parser to find the pieces that will be displayed, and only munges them.
It works great for me, I hope you find it useful too. You’ll need polib as a prerequisite.
"""Munge a .po file so we English-bound can see what strings aren't marked
for translation yet.
Run this with a .po file as an argument. It will set the translated strings
to be the same as the English, but with vowels in the wrong case:
Then set LANGUAGE_CODE='xx' in settings.py, and you'll see wacky case for
translated strings, and normal case for strings that still need translating.
This code is in the public domain.
import re, sys
import polib # from http://bitbucket.org/izi/polib
self.s = ""
def xform(self, s):
return re.sub("[aeiouAEIOU]", self.munge_vowel, s)
def munge_vowel(self, v):
v = v.group(0)
def handle_starttag(self, tag, attrs, closed=False):
self.s += "<" + tag
for name, val in attrs:
self.s += " "
self.s += name
self.s += '="'
if name in ['alt', 'title']:
self.s += self.xform(val)
self.s += val
self.s += '"'
self.s += " /"
self.s += ">"
def handle_startendtag(self, tag, attrs):
self.handle_starttag(tag, attrs, closed=True)
def handle_endtag(self, tag):
self.s += "</" + tag + ">"
def handle_data(self, data):
# We don't want to munge placeholders, so split on them, keeping them
# in the list, then xform every other token.
toks = re.split(r"(%\(\w+\)s)", data)
for i, tok in enumerate(toks):
if i % 2:
self.s += tok
self.s += self.xform(tok)
def handle_charref(self, name):
self.s += "&#" + name + ";"
def handle_entityref(self, name):
self.s += "&" + name + ";"
po = polib.pofile(fname)
count = 0
for entry in po:
hamm = HtmlAwareMessageMunger()
entry.msgstr = hamm.result()
if 'fuzzy' in entry.flags:
entry.flags.remove('fuzzy') # clear the fuzzy flag
count += 1
print "Munged %d messages in %s" % (count, fname)
if __name__ == "__main__":
for fname in sys.argv[1:]:
Some copyright and license information would be helpful too.
Of course, all this is only meaningful in the imaginary world of legal arguments, not in the real world. Clearly you are trying to say anyone can use it, and I would personally feel confident using it without fear that you would sue me later. But in terms of best practices, it's legally better to use a license than say the words "public domain".
Maybe someday Congress will fix the flaws in our legal system. And I have no idea how any of this applies in any other jurisdiction.
Have a look at podebug:
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