Skip to content
JSON file format for localizations
Branch: master
Clone or download
Latest commit b7c7e5d Jan 18, 2019
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
editor Add files via upload Dec 25, 2018
examples Add files via upload Aug 24, 2016
LICENSE Initial commit Aug 23, 2016 Readme typo fix. Jan 17, 2019


OpenWord is a JSON file format for storing localizations (a database of phrases in different languages). It supports partial translations and gradual evolving of the file, as your software evolves. It was created with an idea of collaborative translating.

The repository also contains a little web editor, which allows collaborative work on localization files. You can let your users from across the globe translate your software. Demo: Photopea Translation.


  "langs": [
    { "name": "English", "code": "en", "table": 0 },
    { "name": "Česky",   "code": "cs", "table": 1 },
    { "name": "Español", "code": "es", "table": 2 }
  "tables": [
      "Welcome::Shown at the beginning to every user",
      ["Black", "Red", "Blue"],
      ["Černá", "Červená", "Modrá"],

langs is an array of languages, that are represented in the file.

  • name is the name of the language
  • code is the ISO 639-1 code of the language
  • table is the index of the table, which contains phrases for that language

tables is an array of Tables (Lists). Each Table contains phrases for a specific language. A Phrase (String) can have two parts, separated by ::. The first part is the actual phrase to translate, and the second part is a "comment" (e.g. a message, that will be shown only to the translator).

A List has a tree-like structure, that can be defined recursively: a table is an array of nodes; a node is either null, a string or an array of nodes.

List   :  [  Node, Node, Node, ...  ]
Node   :  Phrase  |  null  |  List
Phrase :  "Text"  |  "Text::Comment"

We can refer to each phrase in a table using a path: an array of indices of nested arrays containing specific string (counting from 0). In the previous example, the word "Loading" has a path [1]. The word "Blue" has a path [2,2]. You can use paths to refer to phrases from your software, without refering to specific table (specific language of the phrase).

When multiple tables contain phrases for a specific path, all these phrases must have the same "meaning" (in different languages). So, when you want to relocate a phrase, you must do it in all tables.

Best practice

It is convenient to have a complete localization in the first table (e.g. English), while other tables will contain partial translations. Such complete table can be used as a source for translators. It also can be used as the fallback, when the localized version of the phrase is not available.

You can start using OpenWord as soon as you start creating your software. Just put all the strings into a JSON OpenWord file with a single table (for a single language). You can add translations at any time in the future (or ask your users to translate it).

It is nice to share your OpenWord translations with others. Different software requires different sets of phrases, but you can make simple programs to crunch lots of OpenWord files to find phrases, that are useful for you.

What about creating a huge OpenWord file, the ultimate database for localization? No.

String identifiers for each phrase

The "path" of each phrase consists of numbers instead of Strings, e.g. [2,1] instead of "". We think, that in practice, you would be too lazy to invent accurate string identifiers for each phrase / group of phrases.

Web Editor

The folder editor contains a web editor of an OpenWord file. Replace the "editor/versions/file.json" by your own file (but keep the same name). Put the content of the folder onto your web server. Navigate to the location of the folder in a web browser (so index.html would be opened) and start editing.

You can see it in action at Photopea Translation.

Current server is written in PHP. It receives the JSON in POST request and updates the file "file.json". It also creates a backup each hour. Feel free to rewrite it to any other technology (it is just 10 lines of code).

Current server allows anybody to write any data to your server (i.e. replace your OpenWord file). Improve the security by sharing the link only with the translators you trust, or rebuild the whole editor. It would be nice to store the history of the file, something like Git.

You can’t perform that action at this time.