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A tool to automatically add i18n markup to jinja2 and handlebars templates.


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A tool to automatically add i18n markup to jinja2 and handlebars templates. Given the similarity between jinja2 and django templates (for these purposes), it may also work for django, though this is not tested.

This is part of a process to make a non-i18n-aware jinja2 or handlebars file i18n-aware. i18n-ness support is mostly a matter of marking natural-language text in the file that needs to be translated. While some complicated natural language constructs (like plurals) require a bit more work, the simple case is very simple: replace

<p>Hello <b>world</b></p>


<p>{{ _("Hello <b>world</b>") }}</p>

This script helps with that process.


i18nize-templates <file> ...


i18nize-templates [--handlebars] < <infile> > <outfile>

In the first use-case, the files are modified in-place. In the second use-case, infile is assumed to be a jinja2 template unless --handlebars is specified.

What it does

This script will replace runs of natural language text with a 'translation marker'. Most template libraries have built in support for some translation markers, notably {% trans %} and _(...). We use only the second form; we never use {% trans %}.

Correcting i18nize_templates mistakes

If the script marks some text for translation that should not have been marked, you can wrap it in a special indicator:

<input type="button" value="{{i18n_do_not_translate("x")}}">  # jinja2
<input type="button" value="{{#i18nDoNotTranslate}}x{{/i18nDoNotTranslate}}">  # handlebars

If you want to use these special indicators, you will need to teach your jinja2/handlebars environment about them, for instance:

jinja2.default_config = {"globals": {"i18n_do_not_translate": lambda s: s}}
Handlebars.registerHelper("i18nDoNotTranslate", function(options) { return options.fn(this); })

Use as a library

At Khan Academy, there are several places we've used i18nize_templates as a library, for when we wanted to work just on the natural-language components of an html file.

Here's an example function that wraps natural-language text in a span. Then you can write javascript to, say, pop up a translation dialog when the span is clicked on. This example purposefully skips natural text in tag attributes, since you can't wrap tag attributes in spans.

import i18nize_templates

def spanify(file_contents):
    """Parse the input text into natural-language runs, and wrap each run.

    We put a single span tag around each run.  The idea is that the
    run will be presented as a single unit to the translator (via
    javascript magic).  Natural-language attributes in tags are
    left alone, since you can't put <span>s inside tags.
    def parser_callback(segment, segment_separates_nltext):
        if segment is None:
            return ''               # called at end-of-parse
        elif (segment_separates_nltext
              or (segment.startswith('<') and segment.endswith('>'))):
            return segment   # do not translate
            return '<span class="nltext">%s</span>' % segment

    parser = i18nize_templates.HtmlLexer(parser_callback)
    return parser.parse(file_contents)

Here's another example program that uses i18nize-templates as a library to auto-translate an html file to box-language. In this case, we do translate natural-language tag attributes.

import re, i18nize_templates

def boxify(file_contents):
    """Parse the input text into 'chunks', and translate each chunk.

    The input is chunked by tags.  Natural-language attributes in tags
    are translated but otherwise tags are left alone; everything else
    is fair game for boxification.
    def parser_callback(segment, segment_separates_nltext):
        if segment is None:
            return ''               # called at end-of-parse
        elif segment.startswith('<') and segment.endswith('>'):
            # A handler that doesn't do anything itself, but when it
            # sees a tag attribute that needs translation, it calls
            # the given parser to translate it.
            tag_handler = i18nize_templates.NullTextHandler(
            return tag_handler.handle_tag(segment)
        elif (segment_separates_nltext
              or (segment.startswith('{{') and segment.endswith('}}'))):
            return segment   # do not translate
            return re.sub(r'\w', u'\u25a1', segment)     # a hollow box

    # Could also use Jinja2HtmlLexer (which is why we bothered to
    # check for '{{' above).
    parser = i18nize_templates.HtmlLexer(parser_callback)
    return parser.parse(file_contents)

In general, you will want to use a standard parser -- HtmlLexer, Jinja2HtmlLexer, or HandlebarsHtmlLexer -- and write your own text handler. See the 'boxify' example above if you want your text handler to properly handle natural-language text inside tags. (Your text handler will see the tag as a single segment, and will need to make a second parse call to translate text inside it.)

Customizing the library

When you use i18nize_templates as a library, you can customize it via the following function calls:

i18nize_templates.add_nltext_tag_attribute("span", "myapp-description")

If you have your own application-specific html tag attributes that hold natural language text, you can tell this script about them via this function call. For example, i18nize_templates will know that xxx is natural langauge text in <span myapp-description="xxx">.


Likewise, if you have application-specific classes that separate natural language text, you can specify them via add_nltext_separator_class(). Note this function takes a regular expression string, not a literal text string.

This means that a<br class="highlight separator"></span>b will be treated as two different nltext runs, even though normally a br tag would not separate runs.


This is used for function calls, or filters, made from within django or jinja2 templates. This script assumes that these function calls have natural-language text as arguments, so when it sees literal strings for these arguments, it marks them for translation. If you know that the function takes only arguments that do not need to be translated, you can call mark_function_args_lack_nltext() on it.


This tool makes no pretentions toward perfection. For situations where it's pretty sure there's natural language text but it doesn't know how to handle it, it will insert text like this:

<p>{{ _TODO(some_function_call("Hello {{world}}")) }}</p>

This will require manual cleanup before the template file is usable.

This script will not capture all natural-language text in an html file or template. For instance, a manual pass will still be needed to detect natural-language text inside

  1. javascript <script> tags
  2. jinja2 {% set %} directives
  3. ...

This script will never insert ngettext markup. If your original text had logic to handle plurals, you will need to modify the marked-up text by hand to be more correct for i18n:

Original text:

{% if num == 1 %}I have one apple{% else %}I have {{num}} apples{% endif %}

Marked up text:

{% if num == 1 %}{{ _("I have one apple") }}{% else %}{{ _("I have %(num)s apples", num=num) }}{% endif %}

What you should manually change the text to:

{{ ngettext("I have one apple", "I have %(num)s apples", num) }}


A tool to automatically add i18n markup to jinja2 and handlebars templates.







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