Virtaal is meant to be powerful yet simple to use. You can increase your productivity by ensuring you know all the shortcuts and tricks and without being distracted by a cluttered interface.
Although most features are available using the mouse, Virtaal is designed to encourage you to work as much as possible with your keyboard to increase your speed and keep the translation fun.
When you have no file open in Virtaal, you’ll see the Virtaal dashboard with helpful links to your recent files and various common tasks in the program.
Mostly you should be able to simply open a translation file by clicking on the file in your file manager (Windows Explorer, Nautilus, Konqueror, etc.). The file might be associated with another program in which case you can look for Virtaal in the context menu by right-clicking on the file.
You can also run Virtaal and open a file with File ‣ Open or Ctrl+O.
You can invoke Virtaal from the command line with
A list of supported translation formats can be found on the features page.
After opening a file, the first translation unit will be shown, with your cursor in the field below the source text. You can simply type your translation and press Enter when finished – just like in your word processor.
Note that Enter moves you to the next position where you want to type. In the case of units with plurals, enter will take you to the next line in the same unit.
If you have the correct spell checkers installed, spell checking should be active for both the source and the target text.
You can undo normally using Ctrl+Z.
Virtaal will save you some time by trying to complete some long words for you. Users of OpenOffice.org will already love this feature. You will see the auto-completion suggesting a possible word, and the suggestion can be accepted by pressing Tab. If the suggestion is not what you want, you can simply continue typing the word you had in mind. If you accepted a suggestion that you don’t want, you can simply undo normally with Ctrl+Z.
Virtaal will save you some time by fixing certain common typing mistakes or spelling errors. Users of OpenOffice.org will already love this feature. How mistakes are corrected depends on your language, and there might possibly not be information for your language yet. Feel free to get involved in the project to improve this feature for your language.
If Virtaal automatically corrected something which you didn’t want, you can simply undo the step with Ctrl+Z.
Sometimes it is easier to have the original string as a start to only replace a few translatable elements. Translations containing XML markup or many variables might be more work to type again than to just start with the source text. You can easily copy the original text into your translation area by pressing Alt+Down.
For some languages, you will see how Virtaal automatically changes the punctuation marks to fit the conventions of your language. This could involve quotation or other punctuation marks, or the spacing between certain elements. For example, a “quotation” automatically becomes a « quotation » in French, without the translator having to change the quote characters or the spacing.
If you don’t want the changes to the source text that Virtaal automatically did, you can simply undo the step with Ctrl+Z.
Placeables are special parts of the text that can be automatically highlighted and easily inserted into the translation. You will see that certain parts of the source text will be highlighted. To select which placeable to insert, press Alt+Right to move the highlighting to the correct placeable. You can insert the currently highlighted placeable by pressing Alt+Down. After you have inserted a placeable, the next placeable will be highlighted.
Highlighted text will show which terms Virtaal recognised, and allow you to handle them as placeables. You can use Alt+Right and Alt+Down the same way as with other placeables. If there is more than one suggestion for a term, Virtaal will display the choices in a menu. Select the translation you want, or press Esc to continue typing.
If Virtaal has a suggestion obtained from translation memory or machine translation, it is displayed underneath the editing area. You can put the first suggestion into the target text with Ctrl+1, or use Ctrl+2, etc. to select the others. You can also double click the suggestion to obtain the same effect.
Commercial users of Virtaal should be aware of certain privacy issues:
A record of some of the source text and matches served are kept on the local computer in a file called virtaal_log.txt (on Windows XP machines, this file may be found in Application DataVirtaal). The log file is not deleted when a file is closed in Virtaal or when Virtaal exists. The file can be safely deleted manually.
All translated segments of any file opened, edited and saved in Virtaal are added to Virtaal’s local translation memory (TM) in a file called tm.db (on Windows XP machines, this file may be found in Application DataVirtaal). The TM is not purged or deleted when Virtaal exists, and the TM file can only have the name “tm.db”.
The consequences are that (a) your translation remains on the local machine and (b) translations from all previous texts are served as matches for all future texts.
It is safe to delete and/or rename the file.
If you have the appropriate plugins enabled, Virtaal will deliver results from network based translation memories. Since the source text is sent to the service provider, take care that you are allowed to do that. In the case where the source text is confidential, this is probably not a good idea.
Although Virtaal may query remote translation memories such as the online TM Open-Tran, none of your own translations are automatically uploaded or contributed to a public or remote TM. The only way you can contribute your translations to a public or remote TM is to send the PO file yourself, for example via e-mail.
The first time you use Virtaal, you’ll be prompted for your name, mail address and team information. This information is then added to all PO files you translate in future. If a PO file already has an author, its author will be commented out and your name will be added as the current author. PO files from opensource projects are often made public, and the details you entered into Virtaal (your name and mail address) may subsequently become available to spam harvesters and search engines, in clear text.
If you have the appropriate plugins enabled, Virtaal will deliver results from network based machine translation engines. Since the source text is sent to the service provider, take care that you are allowed to do that. In the case where the source text is confidential, this is probably not a good idea.