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4.9 Editing PO Files

We anticipate that some translators will find this format odd or inconvenient, if they never happened to work with PO files before7. Don’t worry, you will soon get accustomed to it. It is the established format for translations in the Free World, and if you have any problems, other translators will help you.

The most efficient way to edit a PO file is using a specialized PO editor, because each of them represents and treats gettext messages in a consistent and predictable way. It is possible to edit a PO file with an ordinary plain text editor, but extra effort would be necessary to make the result valid.

Note that recent versions of some PO editors (both offline and web-based) offer access to various translation services that do machine translation for their users. Using a machine translation service is a clear example of SaaSS (see Who does That Server Really Serve?), so please don’t use such editors unless they only submit requests to your (or GNU project’s) own servers.

Here is a list of widely used PO editors we can recommend:

4.9.1 Web-based Systems

If your team would like to use a web-based editor, we recommend using the official Pootle server of the GNU project. We make sure that working with it will not compromise your freedom via nonfree JavaScript or SaaSS. If you decide to use our server, please contact GNU Web Translation Managers to register your team.

Also, that Pootle server has a simple facility to preview your translations as they will appear on In order to test a page, log in the server and visit That page contains a menu to upload a PO file; then the server will generate the translation and show you the build log (including errors), and the generated web page (when the build is successful).



For detailed information about editing PO files, see Working with PO Files in The GNUnited Nations Manual.

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