Internationalization and localization

Christopher Lee edited this page Feb 5, 2018 · 43 revisions

This page is intended for site developers. For coding help, please see this page.

We are currently hosting all translations of Open edX framework on Please feel free to make translation contributions there.

You should also join the openedx-translation Google Group.

In order to run your Open edX instance under a different spoken language, for instance for Spanish (Latin American):

  1. Switch to edxapp environment:

     sudo -H -u edxapp bash
     source /edx/app/edxapp/edxapp_env
     cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform
  2. Configure your ~/.transifexrc file:

     hostname =
     username = user
     password = pass
     token =

    Token is left blank. You have to have permissions for the project (edx-platform) AFAIK - (it is free to sign up and join this project as a translator).

    For help with Transifex configuration, see the Transifex documentation:

  3. Make sure all languages you wish to download are present and uncommented in conf/locale/config.yaml. For example, if you wish to download Arabic and Chinese (China), make sure your config.yaml file looks like this:

         - ar  # Arabic
         - zh_CN  # Chinese (China)
  4. Configure LANGUAGE_CODE in your lms/envs/ Or, for development purposes, create a dev file called - eg - in the lms/envs directory, with the following:

     from .dev import *
     USE_I18N = True
     LANGUAGES = ( ('es-419', 'Spanish'), )
     TIME_ZONE = 'America/Guayaquil'
     LANGUAGE_CODE = 'es-419'

Languages need to be specified with codes Django likes, so a code that is specific on Transifex such as "de_DE" must be specified as "de-de" in these configuration files. See!topic/openedx-translation/vrOpMKzA0kU

  1. Configure EDXAPP_LANGUAGE_CODE in your configuration files:

  2. Execute the following command in your edx-platform directory with your edx-platform virtualenv (Normally cd /edx/app/edxapp && source edxapp_env && cd edx-platform). Make sure that at this point your git repository is set up, because the script will attempt to auto-commit the changes.

     $ paver i18n_robot_pull

Note that this command will pull reviewed translations for all languages that are listed in conf/locale/config.yaml. To only pull down some languages, edit conf/locale/config.yaml appropriately.

To pull unreviewed translations along with reviewed translations, edit /edx/app/edxapp/venvs/edxapp/src/i18n-tools/i18n/ Particularly, the line execute('tx pull --mode=reviewed -l ' + lang) should be changed to execute('tx pull -l' + lang)

  1. When you launch your LMS instance you can launch it normally and things should display properly. However, if in Step 3 you created a special "dev_LANGUAGECODE" file, you'll need to launch the LMS with the environment file explicitly stated:

     $ paver lms -s dev_es -p 8000
  2. If you experience issues:

    • Be sure your browser is set to prefer the language set in LANGUAGE_CODE
    • Note that in some cases, a language change may not be apparent because the there are no translations available. You can check that the language has been applied by checking the lang attribute of the <html> element.
    • In common/djangoapps/student/, the user's language code is tried to be obtained from a saved preferences file. So if you are having issues seeing your language served up, it may be because your User object has a different language saved as a preference. Try creating a new user in your environment, this should clear up the issue.

Releasing A Language

Setting LANGUAGE_CODE sets one language to be your installation's default language. What if you want to support more than one language?

To "release" a second (or third, or hundredth) language, you have to configure the languages on the admin panel:

The LANGUAGE_CODE variable is for your server's default language. And then to "release" a language, you have to turn them on in the dark lang config on the admin panel - do that by going to the admin url above, then adding language codes for all additional languages you wish to release in a comma separated list. For example, to release French and Chinese (China), you'd add:

    fr, zh-cn

to the dark lang config list. You don't need to add the language code for your server's default language, but it's no problem if you do.

Confusing, I know. The benefit of this is that you can preview languages before you release them by appending:


to the end of the root LMS or Studio URL, and then using the form to set or reset the preview language, Example:    # Shows the Preview Language form with a set and reset option

Remember that language codes with underscores and capital letters need to be converted to using dashes and lower case letters on the edX platform. For example the language code of Chinese (Taiwan) is "zh_TW" on Transifex, but "zh-tw" on the edX system.

Localization Process For A Local Full Stack Installation

If you have installed the Full Stack (rather than the Developer Stack) to provide online courses to your institution, its usually not necessary to pull the translations of all languages from Transifex (in many cases translations of only one language is needed), while the pulled translation may need to be modified to meet your specific requirements. You can follow the steps here to do so:

  1. Follow the steps 1 & 2 listed on top of this document to create a ~/.transifexrc and switch to edxapp environment.

  2. If you only need to pull translations of one language, just execute the following command in your edx-platform directory with your edx-platform virtualenv:

     $ tx pull -l <lang_code>

    The <lang_code> here should be replaced by the language code on Transifex of the language you want to pull (for example, zh_CN for Chinese (China)).

    Note that this step will overwrite the .po files located in conf/locale/<lang_code>/LC_MESSAGES with the contents retrieved from Transifex, so please only do this step when you just have a new installation, or when you really want a new version of translation from Transifex.

  3. If you've your own changes of edx-platform's source code in your local installation, or the source files on Transifex is not up-to-date, you may need to extract strings manually. Just execute the following command in your edx-platform directory with your edx-platform virtualenv:

     $ paver i18n_extract

    This command will extract translatable strings into several .po files located in the conf/locale/en/LC_MESSAGES. After the extraction process, you can merge the newly extracted strings into the corresponding .po files (except django.po and djangojs.po, which are generated by i18n tools automatically from other .po files) located in conf/locale/<lang_code>/LC_MESSAGES. For example:

     $ msgmerge conf/locale/zh_CN/LC_MESSAGES/djangojs-partial.po conf/locale/en/LC_MESSAGES/djangojs-partial.po --update
  4. Edit the contents of .po files located in conf/locale/<lang_code>/LC_MESSAGES as you wish. When you finished your modification process, re-compile the translation messages manually by executing the following command in your edx-platform directory with your edx-platform virtualenv:

     $ paver i18n_fastgenerate

    Note that there is another command called paver i18n_generate. The difference of paver i18n_fastgenerate and paver i18n_generate is that paver i18n_generate will extract strings first by using paver i18n_extract and then compile them, while paver i18n_fastgenerate just compiles them without extracting.

  5. Restart your Full Stack installation according to the commands listed in the page edX Managing the Full Stack. Note that if you want to change the default language code of a Full Stack, you can modify the value of LANGUAGE_CODE inside lms.env.json and/or the cms.env.json located in /edx/app/edxapp before starting your Full Stack.

  6. You will see updated translations after the above steps. If not, you can also try to restart the nginx server and/or clear your browser's cache.

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