ITS Tool Released

2011-04-26

Last October, I blogged about itstool, a tool I developed to translate XML documents with PO files using ITS rules. Today, I released version 1.0.0 of ITS Tool on the new ITS Tool web site. If you’ve used xml2po before, you’re familiar with the basic idea: PO messages are extracted from an XML files, and translated messages are merged with the source to produce localized XML files. If you’re not already translating your documents using a message-based format, you need to start. Your translators will thank you.

ITS Tool takes the same idea as tools like xml2po, but the implementation is done entirely in terms of rules from the W3C Internationalization Tag Set. You don’t have to patch it to create a mode for a new XML format. You just need to provide a standard ITS file. Better still, if you mix XML vocabularies in a single file, ITS Tool can apply the rules for all matching formats.

Translators will be happy to know that we can now mark things as untranslatable using the standard its:translate attribute, or using custom its:translateRule elements. This is a long-requested feature that will help cut down the amount of unnecessary cruft that translators have to look at.

In addition to the features we get from standard ITS data categories, ITS Tool provides some custom extension rules to support features like translator credits and external file tracking. There are a few more features I’d like to provide as well, such as adding extra Mallard link titles and specifying transliteration-only messages.

I’ll be working on the GNOME build tools to switch GNOME’s documentation over to itstool for 3.2. Most messages in the PO files will be the same as with xml2po, so it won’t introduce much extra work for translators.

But ITS Tool is not just a GNOME project. It’s free software, under the GPL 3. It’s built on Python and libxml2, and can be used by any project for their XML documents. If you use an XML format that isn’t handled by the built-in ITS rules, you can pass your own custom ITS rules. Or if it’s a common format, submit those rules upstream. I encourage everybody working with XML documents to try ITS Tool and let me know how well it works and what can be done to improve it.

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