The Translate Toolkit might have changed how it functions in certain cases. This page lists what has changed, how it might affect you and how to work around the change either to bring your files in line or to use the old behaviour if required.


For newer Translate Toolkit versions changes please check the Release notes.


PO files now always have headers

Generated PO files now always contain headers. This will mainly affect the output of pofilter and pogrep. This should allow better interoperability with gettext tools, and allowed for some improvement in the code. You should still be able to use headerless files in msgmerge, although it is recommended that PO files are consistently handled with headers wherever possible.


CSV column header names

The names given to CSV column headers have been changed. Early releases of csv2po would name the columns “comment,original,translation”. This was done mostly to make it easy for non-technical translators. However, comments in the command line help used terms like source and target. This release changes the column header names to “location,source,target”, this aligns with terms used throughout the toolkit.

If you have CSV file generated by older versions of the toolkit then a header entry of “comment,original,translation” will be turned into a unit instead of being ignored. You can either change your CSV file to use the headers “location,source,target” or delete the header row completely. Once this is done the files will work as expected.


Java and Mozilla .properties

Unusual keys, separators and spacing should all be handled correctly now. Some Mozilla .properties files might now have changed. Regenerate your Mozilla l10n files from fresh POT files without any changes to your PO files to ensure that you can see and review these changes.

Hashing in podebug

The --hash option in podebug has been replaced by a format specifier %h to be able to better control the positioning of the hash value.


Several duplicate styles were removed as has been warned about long before. Please check the recommendations posted at the time that msgctxt was added on how to migrate.


New formats

The toolkit now supports:

This allows reading, counting and working on these formats. The ts2po converter has not been changed so you will not be able to benefit from the new .ts support. However, you can use the format for translation memory, etc as its is now fully base class compliant.

Stats database change

There were some changes in the database used by pocount for storing statistics. The location of the database might also have changed, depending on what the last version is that you used. Remove the file stats.db from any of ~/.translate_toolkit, ~/.wordforge (or the corresponding directories on your Windows installation.

Valid accelerators

The pofilter accelerator test is now able to make use of a list of valid accelerators. This allows translators to control the behaviour of the test for their language and add or remove characters that can be used as accelerators. Please define the valid accelerators for your language and these will then be included in future releases of the toolkit. By default the old process is followed so that if you take no action then this check will continue to work as expected.


These are branches that contain quite invasive changes that will most likely be merged into the main development and be released sometime in the future.


Converting the current Python based PO parser to the Gettext C based parser for PO. This offers quite a dramatic speed improvement and conformance to the output found in Gettext itself. For most users there will be a number of changes in layout of the files as they will now conform fully to Gettext layout. The ‘keep’ option in --duplicatestyle will no longer be supported as this is not valid Gettext output.


Premature termination of DTD entities

Although this does not occur frequently a case emerged where some DTD entities where not fully extracted from the DTD source. This was fixed in issue 331.

We expect this change to create a few new fuzzy entries. There is no action required from the user as the next update of your PO files will bring the correct text into your translations, if you are using a translation memory your translation might be recovered from obsolete translations.


oo2po Help (helpcontent2) escaping fixed Help (helpcontent2) has notoriously contained some unreadable esacping, e.g. \\\\<tag attr=\\"value\\"\\\\>. The escaping has been fixed and oo2po now understands helpcontent2 escaping while leaving the current GUI escape handling unaltered.

If you have not translated helpcontent2 then you are unaffected by this change. If you have translated this content then you will need to follow these instructions when upgrading.

If you follow normal procedures of creating POT files and upgrading your PO files using pot2po then your strings will not match and you will obtain files with many fuzzies. To avoid this do the following:

  1. Make sure your PO files contain no fuzzy entries
  2. Use po2oo from the previous release to create and SDF file
  3. Upgrade to the latest Translate Toolkit with new po2oo
  4. Use po2oo -l xx-YY your.sdf po to create a new set of PO files with correct escaping

You can choose to do this with only your helpcontent2 PO files if needed, this will allow you to leave your GUI work in its current state. Simply do the above procedure and discard all PO files except helpcontent2, then move these new helpcontent2 files into your current work.

prop2po uses developer comments

prop2po used to place comments found in the source .properties file in traditional translator comments, they should of course go into developer comments. The reason for this change is twofold, it allows these comments to be correctly managed and it is part of the process of cleaning up these formats so that they are closer to the base class and can thus work with XLIFF.

For the user there will be fairly large changes as one comment format moves to the next. It is best to cleanup translator comments and get your translations into a fit state, i.e. no fuzzies, and then proceed with any migrations.

moz2po no longer uses KDE comments

moz2po has traditionally used KDE style comments for storing comments aimed at translators. Many translators confuse these and try to translate them. Thus these have been moved into automatic or developer comments. The result for many people migrating Mozilla PO files will be that many strings will become fuzzy, you can avoid much of this by using pot2po which should intelligently be able to match without considering the KDE comments.

The best strategy is to get your translations into a relatively good shape before migration. You can then migrate them first to a new set of POT files generated from the same source files that the translation is based on. Eliminate all fuzzies as these should only relate to the changes in layout. Then proceed to migrate to a new set of POT files. If you cannot work against the original source files then the best would be to also first eliminate fuzzy matches before proceeding to translation. Your fuzzies will include changes in layout and changes in content so proceed carefully.

At the end of this you should have PO files that conform to the Gettext standard without KDE comments.

Read and Write MO files

You can read and write Gettext MO files (compiled PO files). Thus pocount can now count files on your filesystem and you can also compile MO files using pocompile. MO files can be compiled from either PO or XLIFF sources.

MO will now also produce correct output for msgctxt and plural forms found in PO files.

Read Qt .qm files

We can now read Qt .qm files, thus pocount can count the contents of compiled files. We cannot however write .qm files at this time.


pot2po will create new empty PO files if needed

From version 1.0.1, pot2po will create empty PO files corresponding to new POT files that might have been introduced. If some new POT files are present in the input to pot2po, you will see a new PO file appear in your output directory that was not in your old PO files. You will not lose any data but in the worst case you will see new files on projects that you thought were fully translated.


Improved XLIFF support

Many toolkit tools that only worked with PO files before, can now also work with XLIFF files. pogrep, pocount, pomerge, and pofilter all work with XLIFF, for example.

Pretty XML output

All XML formats should now be more human readable, and the converters to Qt .ts files should work correctly again.

Fuzzy matching in pot2po is optional

Fuzzy matching can now be entirely disabled in pot2po with the --nofuzzymatching parameter. This should make it much faster, although pot2po is substantially faster than earlier versions, especially if python-Levenshtein is installed.

Old match/* can cause name clash

The file previously called match/ was renamed to in order to use the python-Levenshtein package mentioned above. If you follow the basic installation instructions, the old file will not be overwritten, and can cause problems. Ensure that you remove all files starting with in the installation path of the translate toolkit, usually something like /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/translate/search/. It could be up to three files.

PO file layout now follows Gettext more closely

The toolkits output PO format should now resemble Gettext PO files more closely. Long lines are wrapped correctly, messages with long initial lines will start with a ‘msgid “”’ entry. The reason for this change is to ensure that differences in files relate to content change not format change, no matter what tool you use.

To understand the problem more clearly. If a user creates POT files with e.g. oo2po. She then edits them in a PO editor or manipulate them with the Gettext tools. The layout of the file after manipulation was often different from the original produced by the Toolkit. Thus making it hard to tell what where content changes as opposed to layout changes.

The changes will affect you as follows:

  1. They will only impact you when using the Toolkit tools.
  2. You manipulate your files with a tool that follows Gettext PO layout
    • your experience should now improve as the new PO files will align with your existing files
    • updates should now only include real content changes not layout changes
  3. You manipulate your files using Toolkit related tools or manual editing
    • your files will go through a re-layout the first time you use any of the tools
    • subsequent usage should continue as normal
    • any manipulation using Gettext tools will leave your files correctly laid out.

Our suggestion is that if you are about to suffer a major reflow that your initial merge contain only reflow and update changes. Do content changes in subsequent steps. Once you have gone through the reflow you should see no layout changes and only content changes.

Language awareness

The toolkit is gradually becoming more aware of the differences between languages. Currently this mostly affects pofilter checks (and therefore also Pootle) where tests involving punctuation and capitalisation will be more aware of the differences between English and some other languages. Provisional customisation for the following languages are in place and we will welcome more work on the language module: Amharic, Arabic, Greek, Persian, French, Armenian, Japanese, Khmer, Vietnamese, all types of Chinese.

New pofilter tests: newlines and tabs

The escapes test has been refined with two new tests, newlines and tabs. This makes identifying the errors easier and makes it easier to control the results of the tests. You shouldn’t have to change your testing behaviour in any way.

Merging can change fuzzy status

pomerge now handles fuzzy states:

pomerge -t old -i merge -o new

Messages that are fuzzy in merge will now also be fuzzy in new. Similarly if a fuzzy state is present in old but removed in merge then the message in new will not be fuzzy.

Previously no fuzzy states were changed during a merge.

pofilter will make Mozilla accelerators a serious failure

If you use pofilter with the --mozilla option then accelerator failures will produce a serious filter error, i.e. the message will be marked as fuzzy. This has been done because accelerator problems in your translations have the potential to break Mozilla applications.

po2prop can output Mozilla or Java style properties

We have added the --personality option to allow a user to select output in either java, or mozilla style (Java property files use escaped Unicode, while Mozilla uses actual Unicode characters). This functionality was always available but was not exposed to the user and we always defaulted to the Mozilla style.

When using po2moz the behaviour is not changed for the user as the programs will ensure that the properties convertor uses Mozilla style.

However, when using po2prop the default style is now java, thus if you are converting a single .properties file as part of a Mozilla conversion you will need to add --personality=mozilla to your conversion. Thus:

po2prop -t

Would become:

po2prop --personality=mozilla -t


Output in java style escaped Unicode will still be usable by Mozilla but will be harder to read.

Support for compressed files

There is some initial support for reading from and writing to compressed files. Single files compressed with gzip or bzip2 compression is supported, but not tarballs. Most tools don’t support it, but pocount and the --tm parameter to pot2po will work with it, for example. Naturally it is slower than working with uncompressed files. Hopefully more tools can support it in future.


po2oo defaults to not check for errors

In po2oo we made the default --filteraction=none i.e. do nothing and don’t warn. Until we have a way of clearly marking false positives we’ll have to disable this functionality as there is no way to quiet the output or mark non errors. Also renamed exclude to exclude-all so that it is clearer what it does i.e. it excludes ‘all’ vs excludes ‘serious’.

pofilter xmltags produces less false positives

In the xmltags check we handle the case where we had some false positives. E.g. “<Error>” which looks like XML/HTML but should actually be translated. These are handled by

  1. identifying them as being the same length as the source text,
  2. not containing any ‘=’ sign. Thus the following would not be detected by this hack. “An <Error> occurred” -> “<Error name=”bob”>”, but these ones need human eyes anyway.


PO to XLIFF conversion

Conversion from PO to XLIFF is greatly improved in 0.10 and this was done according to the specification at – please let us know if there are features lacking.

pot2po can replace msgmerge

pot2po has undergone major changes which means that it now respects your header entries, can resurrect obsolete messages, does fuzzy matching using Levenshtein distance algorithm, will correctly match messages with KDE style comments and can use an external Translation Memory. You can now use pot2po instead of Gettext’s msgmerge and it can also replace pomigrate2. You may still want to use pomigrate2 if there where file movements between versions as pot2po can still not do intelligent matching of PO and POT files, pomigrate2 has also been adapted so that it can use pot2po as it background merging tool.

pomigrate2 --use-compendium --pot2po <old> <pot> <new>

This will migrate file with a compendium built from PO files in <old> and will use pot2po as its conversion engine.

.properties pretty formatting

When using templates for generating translated .properties files we will now preserve the formatting around the equal sign.

# Previously if the template had
property     =      value
# We output
# We will now output
property     =      translation

This change ensures that there is less noise when checking differences against the template file. However, there will be quite a bit of noise when you make your first .properties commits with the new pretty layout. Our suggestion is that you make a single commit of .properties files without changes of translations to gt the formatting correct.


Escaping – DTD files are no longer escaped

Previously each converter handled escaping, which made it a nightmare every time we identified an escaping related error or added a new format. Escaping has now been moved into the format classes as much as possible, the result being that formats exchange Python strings and manage their own escaping.

I doing this migration we revisited some of the format migration. We found that we were escaping elements in our output DTD files. DTD’s should have no escaping i.e. \n is a literal \ followed by an n not a newline.

A result of this change is that older PO files will have different escaping to what po2moz will now expect. Probably resulting in bad output .dtd files.

We did not make this backward compatible as the fix is relatively simple and is one you would have done for any migration of your PO files.

  1. Create a new set of POT files

    moz2po -P mozilla pot
  2. Migrate your old PO files

    pomigrate2 old new pot
  3. Fix all the fuzzy translations by editing your PO files

  4. Use pofilter to check for escaping problems and fix them

    pofilter -t escapes new new-check
  5. Edit file in new-check in your PO editor

    pomerge -t new -i new-check -o new-check

Migration to base class

All filters are/have been migrate to a base class. This move is so that it is easier to add new format, interchange formats and to create converters. Thus xx2po and xx2xlf become easier to create. Also adding a new format should be as simple as working towards the API exposed in the base class. An unexpected side effect will be the Pootle should be able to work directly with any base class file (although that will not be the normal Pootle operation)

We have checks in place to ensure the current operation remains correct. However, nothing is perfect and unfortunately the only way to really expose all bugs is to release this software.

If you discover a bug please report it on Bugzilla or on the Pootle mailing list. If you have the skills please check on HEAD to see if it is not already fixed and if you regard it as critical discuss on the mailing list backporting the fix (note some fixes will not be backported because they may be too invasive for the stable branch). If you are a developer please write a test to expose the bug and a fix if possible.

Duplicate Merging in PO files – merge now the default

We added the --duplicatestyle option to allow duplicate messages to be merged, commented or simply appear in the PO unmerged. Initially we used the msgid_comments options as the default. This adds a KDE style comment to all affected messages which created a good balance allowing users to see duplicates in the PO file but still create a valid PO file.

‘msgid_comments’ was the default for 0.8 (FIXME check), however it seemed to create more confusion then it solved. Thus we have reverted to using ‘merge’ as the default (this then completely mimics Gettext behaviour).

As Gettext will soon introduce the msgctxt attribute we may revert to using that to manage disambiguation messages instead of KDE comments. This we feel will put us back at a good balance of usefulness and usability. We will only release this when msgctxt version of the Gettext tools are released.

.properties files no longer use escaped Unicode

The main use of the .properties converter class is to translate Mozilla files, although .properties files are actually a Java standard. The old Mozilla way, and still the Java way, of working with .properties files is to escape any Unicode characters using the \uNNNN convention. Mozilla now allows you to use Unicode in UTF-8 encoding for these files. Thus in 0.9 of the Toolkit we now output UTF-8 encoded properties files. Issue 193 tracks the status of this and we hope to add a feature to prop2po to restore the correct Java convention as an option.