L10n Debconf templates with PO files — Hints for translators

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General notes for translators.

  1. Before starting a translation, always check with your fellow translators on debian-l10n-<language>@lists.debian.org (if such a list does exist) to make sure that noone is currently working on the same translation, and read current bugreports against the package you are going to translate to see if a translation has already been reported.
  2. If you want to update a translation, please always contact the previous translator in order to prevent duplication of work. Mail addresses can be found in the PO file.
  3. To start a new translation, copy the templates.pot file into xx.po, where xx is the ISO code of your language. Then specify in the first msgstr the charset used for translated strings, and also put any useful piece of information.
  4. Any general text editor can be used to work on PO files, and there are some specific tools like gtranslator or kbabel which can be helpful if you are not familiar with PO files. Gettext documentation contains explanations about the PO file format, and you must read at least the Filling in the Header Entry and The Format of PO Files sections.
  5. When you have finished your translation, always reread your file at least once to correct all meaning, spelling, grammar, typo and other mistakes. (Maybe your PO editor does include a spellchecker or a translation helper like acheck). Next run
                msgfmt -c -v -o /dev/null YOUR_LANGUAGE_CODE.po
    to check that your file is valid and will be integrated without trouble. Depending on your language team policy, you may also send your translation to your dedicated l10n list so that it gets reviewed.
  6. When your translation is finished and valid, file a bugreport against the package being translated, severity wishlist. Tag your report with l10n and patch marks, add [INTL:xx] (where xx is the ISO code of your language) to the subject to help further searches, ask politely that your translation gets included, give maintainer instructions on what to do with this file (e.g. Please copy the attachment into debian/po/cs.po) and do not forget to attach your translation. This step can be very easily performed with the reportbug utility.

Notes specific to po-debconf

  1. The field name is displayed in comments before msgid. Default values are special for debconf, because when template type is Select or Multiselect, they must not be translated, but their values may be changed (in rare circumstances) to another string listed in the English Choices field. For this reason, developers should use DefaultChoice instead of Default in order to prevent confusion. This is a po-debconf extension. In the generated templates file, Default will of course be printed, since debconf does not define this DefaultChoice field.
  2. Because instructions for translators may be inserted by developers, you must ensure that the tool you are using is able to display (without corruption) these comments. See for instance instructions to handle language selection in the geneweb package.
  3. Sometimes msgids are identical whereas msgstr could have different values. In order to make msgids unique, some special text can be inserted at the end of the string, more precisely any sequence of
    • a left square bracket: [
    • a space
    • zero or more occurrences of any character except left square bracket, right square bracket and newline
    • a right square bracket: ]
    at the end of string is removed from msgid strings. It also applies to msgstr strings, so that translators can insert an empty string.
  4. Lines are wrapped by debconf, except when they begin with a space. Such lines are often used to format lists, but each frontend has its own limitations. It seems that such lines must not exceed 72 characters in order to be displayed reasonably well on all frontends.
  5. The podebconf-display-po script (from po-debconf >= 0.8.3) is able to show your translation as it will be displayed by debconf at configuration time. Run
                podebconf-display-po -fdialog debian/po/YOUR_LANG_CODE.po
    to have a rough idea on how your translation will look like. But this only works for basic configuration files, rendering may be altered if complex operations (like heavy use of text substitution) are performed. Available debconf frontends (which can be selected by the -f flag) are listed in debconf(7).
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This page was generated with data collected on: April 23rd, 2014. Before working on these files, make sure they are up to date!