`gettext` wrapper, enabling localization of static documents and websites.
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Static gettext

Django's internationalization framework is a relatively clean integration of gettext's approach to the tough problem of localizing dynamic applications. The process is straightforward:

  1. Text in an application's code and templates is marked for future translation, generally through _('text') function calls in code, and {% trans ... %} or {% blocktrans %}...{% endblocktrans %} tags in templates.

  2. Translatable strings are extracted from the application's source into message files in a standard format. These files contain each string (almost always in English) in the application , and allow translators to easily map them to their target-language counterparts. One file is generated per language.

  3. Fully translated message files are then compiled into a binary format for quick lookup, and loaded into the application, where they can be used to dynamically generate responses in a language of the user's choice.

This is a good workflow, one which I'd like to replicate for static documents and websites. As you might have guessed, that's where this repository comes in. static_gettext.py wraps the gettext framework, allowing static documents to be used as translation templates, generating one copy of a set of documents for each language available. From index.html, you can produce en_US/index.html, de_DE/index.html, and so on, enabling (among other things) multi-language static websites.


The first step is to mark up the documents you'd like to translate. static_gettext.py supports the following markup formats out of the box:

  • {% blocktrans %}TRANSLATABLE STRING{% endblocktrans %}
  • <blocktrans>TRANSLATABLE STRING</blocktrans>
  • <!-- blocktrans -->TRANSLATABLE STRING<!-- /blocktrans -->
  • /* blocktrans */TRANSLATABLE STRING/* /blocktrans */

I prefer the former, as it makes "upgrading" to a real Django project easy, but the others might be worthwhile, depending on your needs.

Let's take the following HTML document as an example:

<!doctype html>
<html lang="en">
    <title>Hello, world!</title>
    <p>This is a document!</p>

Three strings would need translation if I wanted to render this page in German, so let's demarcate them as translatable (see ./example/src/index.html):

<!doctype html>
<html lang="{% blocktrans %}en{% endblocktrans %}">>
    <title>{% blocktrans %}Hello, world!{% endblocktrans %}</title>
    <p>{% blocktrans %}This is a document!{% endblocktrans %}</p>

With those markers in place, I can generate message files:

static_gettext.py --input ./example/src --locale ./example/locale --languages en_US,de_DE

This command generates ./example/locale/en_US/LC_MESSAGES/messages.po and ./example/locale/de_DE/LC_MESSAGES/messages.po, which both look like:

# This file is distributed under the same license as the PACKAGE package.
#, fuzzy
msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Project-Id-Version: PACKAGE VERSION\n"
"Report-Msgid-Bugs-To: \n"
"POT-Creation-Date: 2010-09-12 16:34+0200\n"
"PO-Revision-Date: YEAR-MO-DA HO:MI+ZONE\n"
"Last-Translator: FULL NAME <EMAIL@ADDRESS>\n"
"Language-Team: LANGUAGE <LL@li.org>\n"
"Language: \n"
"MIME-Version: 1.0\n"
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8\n"
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit\n"

#: example/src/index.html:2
msgid "en"
msgstr ""

#: example/src/index.html:4
msgid "Hello, world!"
msgstr ""

#: example/src/index.html:7
msgid "This is a document!"
msgstr ""

You should edit the header information of each .po file to reflect who's actually responsible for each, then hand the file to that person for translation. That's as straightforward as you'd expect:


#: example/src/index.html:2
msgid "en"
msgstr "de"

#: example/src/index.html:4
msgid "Hello, world!"
msgstr "Hallo Welt!"

#: example/src/index.html:7
msgid "This is a document!"
msgstr "Dies ist ein Dokument!"


gettext wants a compiled message file, so, run:

static_gettext.py --compile --input ./example/src --locale ./example/locale --languages en_US,de_DE

That generates binary .mo files for both en_US and de_DE, which can be used to generate translated versions of the file (see ./example/build/en_US/index.html and ./example/build/de_DE/index.html)

static_gettext.py --render --input ./example/src --locale ./example/locale --output ./example/build --languages en_US,de_DE

In a nutshell:

static_gettext.py --input ./path/to/input/root --locale ./path/to/locale/root --languages LANG1,LANG2,...
# translate the message files in `./path/to/locale/root/[LANG]/LC_MESSAGES/`
static_gettext.py --input ./path/to/input/root --locale ./path/to/locale/root --languages LANG1,LANG2,... --compile
static_gettext.py --input ./path/to/input/root --locale ./path/to/locale/root --output ./path/to/build/root --languages LANG1,LANG2,... --render


  • By default, only files with .html, .js, .css, .txt, and .markdown extensions are processed for translation. Files with other extensions are simply copied over to the build directories. This means you'll end up with multiple copies of images. So far, I see this as an acceptable trade-off...

  • The defaults are sensible, so, if you run the script from the root of a project laid out as follows, you can leave off the script's input, locale, and output arguments:

    - project root
      - src
      - locale
      - build

    Running static_gettext.py --language en_US,de_DE would be enough. The example directory in this project is, unsurprisingly, just such an example. For extra details, see the Makefile in that directory.


BSD licensed