Management commands

The management commands are administration commands provided by Django, Pootle or any external Django app being used with Pootle. You will usually run these commands by issueing pootle <command> [options].

For example, to get information about all available management commands, you will run:

$ pootle help


If you run Pootle from a repository checkout you can use the file found in the root of the repository.

Running WSGI servers

There are multiple ways to run Pootle, and some of they rely on running WSGI servers that can be reverse proxyed to a proper HTTP web server such as nginx or lighttpd.

The Translate Toolkit offers a bundled CherryPy server but there are many more options such as gunicorn, flup, paste, etc.


New in version 2.5.

This command runs the CherryPy server bundled with the Translate Toolkit.

Available options:


The hostname to listen on.



The TCP port on which the server should listen for new connections.

Default: 8080.


The number of working threads to create.

Default: 1.


The name of the worker process.

Default: socket.gethostname().


Specifies the maximum number of queued connections. This is the the backlog argument to socket.listen().

Default: 5.

The filename of the server SSL certificate.
The filename of the server’s private key file.

Managing Pootle projects

These commands will go through all existing projects performing maintenance tasks. The tasks are all available through the web interface but on a project by project or file by file basis.

All commands in this category accept a --directory command line option that expects a path relative to the po/ directory to limit it’s action to.

Changed in version 2.1.2.

The commands target can be limited in a more flexible way using the --project --language command line options. They can be repeated to indicate multiple languages or projects. If you use both options together it will only match the files that match both languages and projects selected.

If you need to limit the commands to certain files or subdirectories you can use the --path-prefix option, path should be relative to project/language pair.

For example, to refresh_stats for the tutorial project only, run:

$ pootle refresh_stats --project=tutorial

To only refresh a the Zulu and Basque language files within the tutorial project, run:

$ pootle refresh_stats --project=tutorial --language=zu --language=eu


This command will go through all existing projects making sure calculated data is up to date. Running refresh_stats immediately after an install, upgrade or after adding a large number of files will make Pootle feel faster as it will require less on-demand calculation of expensive statistics.

refresh_stats will do the following tasks:

  • Update the statistics cache (this only useful if you are using memcached).
  • Calculate quality checks so that they appear on the expanded overview page without a delay.
  • Update full text search index (Lucene or Xapian).


This command will save all translations currently in the database to the file system, thereby bringing the files under the PODIRECTORY directory in sync with the Pootle database.


For better performance Pootle keeps translations in database and doesn’t save them to disk except on demand (before file downloads and major file level operations like version control updates).

You must run this command before taking backups or running scripts that modify the translation files directly on the file system, otherwise you might miss out on translations that are in database but not yet saved to disk.

When the --overwrite option is specified, the sync operation will not be conservative and it will overwrite the existing files on disk, making strings obsolete and updating the file’s structure.

With the --skip-missing option, files that are missing on disk will be ignored, and no new files will be created.

New in version 2.5.

With the --modified-since option it is possible to give a change identifier (from the output of latest_change_id) to specifically indicate which changes need to be synced to disk. This will override Pootle on what has/hasn’t been synced to disk, and specifically those changes will be synced. Note that bulk changes (from uploads and version control actions) don’t yet record fine-grained changes, and these will therefore not be synced to disk. However, these should already be on disk, since those actions always sync to disk anyway.


This command is the opposite of sync_stores. It will update the strings in database to reflect what is on disk, as Pootle will not detect changes in the file system on its own.

It will also discover and import any new files added to existing languages within the projects.

You must run this command after running scripts that modify translation files directly on the file system.

update_stores has an extra command line option --keep that will prevent it from overwriting any existing translation in the database, thus only updating new translations and discovering new files and strings.

Changed in version 2.5.

Along with --keep the --modified-since option can be used to keep translations that have a change ID greater than the given value. This way some translated strings can be updated from in-disk files while at preserving in-DB translations for other strings that meet the given criterion.

To illustrate the results of these later options, have a look at the following table that emulates the behavior of pootle update_stores --modified-since=5 --keep:

File on disk DB before (change ID) DB after (result)
New string appeared in existing file <none> String added
Existing string changed in existing file <none> String updated
Existing string changed in existing file 2 String updated
Existing string changed in existing file 5 String updated
Existing string changed in existing file 8 String kept
New string in a new file <none> String added
String removed from the file 3 String removed
String removed from the file 10 String removed
File removed 4 Strings removed
File removed 12 Strings removed

By default, update_stores will only update files that appear to have changed on disk since the last synchronization with Pootle. To force all files to update, specify --force.


If files on the file system are corrupt, translations might be deleted from the database. Handle with care!


Changed in version 2.5: The name of the command has been renamed from update_from_templates.

Updates languages to match what is present in the translation templates.

This command is essentially an interface to the Translate Toolkit command pot2po with special Pootle specific routines to update the database and file system to reflect the latest version of translation templates for each language in a project.

During the process, translations existing in the database will first be synced to disk (only in bilingual formats), then they will be updated against the latest templates and after that the database will also be updated to reflect the latest changes.

When updating existing translated files under a given language, the command will retain any existing translations, fuzzy matching is performed on strings with minor changes, and unused translations will be marked as obsolete. New template files will initialize new untranslated files.

It is unlikely you will ever need to run this command for all projects at once. Use the --directory, --project or --language command line options to be specific about the project, language or project/language pair you want to target.


If the template files are corrupt translations might be lost. If you generate templates based on a script make sure they are in good shape.


This command scans project directories looking for files matching languages not added to the project then adds them. It basically repeats the discovery process done by Pootle when you create a new project.

Using the --cleanup command line option, languages added to projects that no longer have matching files on the filesystem will be deleted.


New in version 2.5.

This command updates the specified files from their Version Control System(s). It supports the --directory, --project, and --language parameters.

Pootle will take care to avoid version control conflicts, and will handle any conflicts on a string level, just like it would if the update was done through the web front-end.

The command first syncs database contents to disk.


New in version 2.5.

This command commits the specified files to their Version Control System(s). It supports the --directory, --project, and --language parameters.

A file needs to be up to date, otherwise the commit will fail. Files can be updated inside Pootle, or using the update_from_vcs command. This is not done automatically, otherwise the merged version of the file will be committed without review without anybody knowing.


New in version 2.5.

This command prints all the language codes on the server. This might be useful for automation.

Accepts the --modified-since parameter to list only those languages modified since the change id given by latest_change_id.

The option --project limits the output to one or more projects. Specify the option multiple times for more than one project.


New in version 2.5.

This command prints all the project codes on the server. This might be useful for automation.

Accepts the --modified-since parameter to list only those projects modified since the change id given by latest_change_id.


New in version 2.5.

This command prints the ID of the latest change (submission) made on the server. This is mostly useful in combination with other commands that operate with these IDs.

Manually Installing Pootle

These commands expose the database installation and upgrade process from the command line.


Strictly speaking syncdb is a generic Django management command that creates empty database tables. It has been customized for Pootle to create everything required for a bare bones install. This includes database tables, default permissions, some default objects used internally by Pootle (like the “default” and “nobody” user profiles) and the special Terminology and Templates languages.

If you just run syncdb you will have a usable Pootle install but you will need to create all languages manually, and you will not have a tutorial project to play with.


This is Pootle’s install process, it creates the default admin user, populates the language table with several languages with their correct fields, initializes several terminology projects, and creates the tutorial project.

initdb can only be run after syncdb.


initdb will not import translations into the database, so the first visit to Pootle after initdb will be very slow. It is best to run refresh_stats immediately after initdb.


This is a command line interface to Pootle’s database scheme upgrade process. A database upgrade is usually triggered automatically on the first visit to a new version of Pootle, but for very large installs database upgrades can be too slow for the browser and it is best to run updatedb from the command line.

Useful Django commands


$ pootle changepassword <username>

This can be used to change the password of any user from the command line.


This creates a new admin user. It will prompt for username, password and email address.


This opens a database command prompt with the Pootle database already loaded. It is useful if you know SQL.


Try not to break anything.


This opens a Python shell with the Django and Pootle environment already loaded. Useful if you know a bit of Python or the Django models syntax.

Running Commands in cron

If you want to schedule certain actions on your Pootle server, using management commands with cron might be a solution.

The management commands can perform certain batch commands which you might want to have executed periodically without user intervention.

For the full details on how to configure cron, read your platform documentation (for example man crontab). Here is an example that runs the refresh_stats command daily at 02:00 AM:

00 02 * * * www-data /var/www/sites/pootle/ refresh_stats

Test your command with the parameters you want from the command line. Insert it in the cron table, and ensure that it is executed as the correct user (the same as your web server) like www-data, for example. The user executing the command is specified in the sixth column. Cron might report errors through local mail, but it might also be useful to look at the logs in /var/log/cron/, for example.

If you are running Pootle from a virtualenv, or if you set any custom PYTHONPATH or similar, you might need to run your management command from a bash script that creates the correct environment for your command to run from. Call this script then from cron. It shouldn’t be necessary to specify the settings file for Pootle — it should automatically be detected.