po4a (1) - Linux Manuals

po4a: update both the po files and translated documents in one shot


po4a - update both the po files and translated documents in one shot


po4a [options] <config_file>


The po4a (po for anything) project goal is to ease translations (and more interestingly, the maintenance of translations) using gettext tools on areas where they were not expected like documentation.

The "po4a" program is in charge of updating both the po files (to sync them to the original documents) and the translated documents (to sync them to the po files). The main point is to make the use of po4a easier without having to remember of the command line options.

It also allows you to mix documents having different formats into the same pot file so that you can have only one such file per project.

This behaviour can be mimicked by the other tools of the po4a suite (for example with makefiles), but it is rather difficult to do, and exhausting to redo the same complicated makefiles for each project using po4a.

The dataflow can be summarized as follow. Any changes to the master document will be reflected in the po files, and all changes to the po files (either manual or caused by previous step) will be reflected in translation documents.

 master document --> po files --> translations

The dataflow cannot be inversed in this tool, and changes in translations are overwritten by the content of the po files. As a matter of fact, this tool cannot be used to convert existing translations to the po4a system. For that task, please refer to po4a-gettextize(1).


The (mandatory) argument is the path to the configuration file to use. Its syntax aims at being simple and close to the configuration files used by the intl-tools projects.

Comments in this files are noted by the char '#'. It comments everything until the end of the line. Lines can be continued by escaping the end of line. All non blank lines must begin with a [] command, followed by its arguments. (sound difficult said that way, but it is rather easy, I hope ;)

Specifying the template languages

This is an optional command that can simplify the whole config file, and will make it more scalable. You have to specify a list of the languages in which you want to translate the documents. This is as simple as:

 [po4a_langs] fr de

This will enable you to expand $lang to all the specified languages in the rest of the config file.

Specifying the paths to translator inputs

First, you have to specify where the translator input files (ie, the files used by translators to do their job) are located. It can be done by such a line:

 [po4a_paths] doc/l10n/project.doc.pot fr:doc/l10n/fr.po de:doc/l10n/de.po

The command is thus 'po4a_paths'. The first argument is the path to the pot file to use. All subsequent arguments are of the self-explanatory form:

    <lang>:<path to the po file for this lang>

If you've defined the template languages, you can rewrite the line above this way:

 [po4a_paths] doc/l10n/project.doc.pot $lang:doc/l10n/$lang.po

You can also use $master to refer to the document basename. In this case, po4a will use a splitted mode: one POT and one PO (for each language) will be created for each document specified in the po4a configuration file. See the Splitted mode section.

 [po4a_paths] doc/$master/$master.pot $lang:doc/$master/$lang.po

Autodetection of the paths and languages

Another command can be used to specify the name of a directory where the PO and POT files are located. When it is used, po4a will detect the POT file as the only ``*.pot'' file from the specified directory. Po4a will also use the list of ``*.po'' files to define the list of languages (by stripping out the extension). These languages will be used for the substitution of the $lang variable in the rest of the configuration file.

This command should not be used together with the po4a_langs or po4a_paths commands.

 [po_directory] po4a/po/

Specifying the documents to translate

You now naturally have to specify which documents are translated, their format, and where to put the translations. It can be made by such lines:

 [type: sgml] doc/my_stuff.sgml fr:doc/fr/mon_truc.sgml \
 [type: pod] script fr:doc/fr/script.1 de:doc/de/script.1 \

This should be rather self-explanatory also. Note that in the second case, doc/l10n/script.fr.add is an addendum to add to the French version of this document. Please refer to po4a(7) for more information about the addenda.

More formally, the format is:

 [type: <format>] <master_doc> <lang>:<localized_doc>* add_<lang>:<addendum>*

If you've defined the template languages, you can rewrite the line above this way:

 [type: pod] script $lang:doc/$lang/script.1 \

If all the languages had addenda with similar paths, you could also write something like:

 [type: pod] script $lang:doc/$lang/script.1 \

Specifying options for the modules

po4a accepts options that will be passed to the module. These options are module specific and are specified with the -o switch.

If you need a specific option for one of the document you want to translate, you can also specify it in the configuration file. Options are introduced by the opt keyword. The argument of the opt keyword must be quoted with double quotes if it contains a space (e.g. if you specify multiple options, or an option with an argument). You can also specify options that will only apply to a specific language by using the opt_lang keyword.

Here is an example:
 [type:man] data-05/test2_man.1 $lang:tmp/test2_man.$lang.1 \
      opt:``-k 75'' opt_it:``-L UTF-8'' opt_fr:-v

Arguments may contain spaces if you use single quotes or escaped double quotes:
 [po4a_alias:man] man opt:``-o \''mdoc=NAME,SEE ALSO\`` -k 20''

If you want to specify the same options for many documents, you may want to use an alias (see the Specifying aliases section below).

You can also set options for all the documents specified in the configuration file:
 [options] opt:``...'' opt_fr:``...''

Specifying aliases

If you must specify the same options for multiple files, you may be interested in defining a module alias. This can be done this way:

[po4a_alias:test] man opt:``-k 21'' opt_es:``-o debug=splitargs''

This define a module alias named test, based on the man module, with the -k 21 apply to all the languages and with -o debug=splitargs applied to the Spanish translation.

This module alias can then be use like a regular module:

[type:test] data-05/test2_man.1 $lang:tmp/test2_man.$lang.1 \
      opt_it:``-L UTF-8'' opt_fr:-v

Note that you can specify additional options on a per file basis.

Splitted mode

The splitted mode is used when $master is used in the [po4a_paths] line.

When the splitted mode is used, a temporary big POT and temporary big POs are used. This permits to share the translations between all the POs.

If two POs have different translations for the same string, po4a will mark this string as fuzzy and will submit both translations in all the POs which contain this string. Then, when a translator updates the translation and removes the fuzzy tag in one PO, the translation of this string will be updated in every POs automatically.


-k, --keep
Minimal threshold for translation percentage to keep (ie, write) the resulting file (default: 80). Ie, by default, files have to be translated at at least 80% to get written.
-h, --help
Show a short help message.
-M, --master-charset
Charset of the files containing the documents to translate. Note that all master documents must use the same charset for now. This is a known limitation, and we are working on solving this.
-L, --localized-charset
Charset of the files containing the localized documents. Note that all translated documents will use the same charset for now. This is a known limitation, and we are working on solving this.
-A, --addendum-charset
Charset of the addenda. Note that all the addenda should be in the same charset.
-V, --version
Display the version of the script and exit.
-v, --verbose
Increase the verbosity of the program.
-q, --quiet
Decrease the verbosity of the program.
-d, --debug
Output some debugging information.
-f, --force
Always generate the POT and PO files, even if po4a considers it is not necessary.

The default behavior (when --force is not specified) is the following:

-o, --option
Extra option(s) to pass to the format plugin. Specify each option in the 'name=value' format. See the documentation of each plugin for more information about the valid options and their meanings.

If the POT file already exists, it is regenerated if a master document or the configuration file is more recent. The POT file is also written in a temporary document and po4a verifies that the changes are really needed.

Also, a translation is regenerated only if its master document, the PO file, one of its addenda or the configuration file is more recent. To avoid trying to regenerate translations which do not pass the threshold test (see --keep), a file with the '.po4a-stamp' extension can be created (see --stamp).

If a master document includes files, you should use the --force flag because the modification time of these included files are not taken into account.

The PO files are always re-generated based on the POT with msgmerge -U.

Tells po4a to create stamp files when a translation is not generated because it it does not reach the threshold. These stamp files are named according to the expected translated document, with the .po4a-stamp extension.

Note: This only activates the creation of the .po4a-stamp files. The stamp files are always used if they exist, and they are removed with --rm-translations or when the file is finally translated.

Do not generate the translated documents, only update the POT and PO files.
Remove the translated files (implies --no-translations).
Do not generate the .po~ backup files.
Remove the .po~ backup files (implies --no-backups).
--variable var=value
Define a variable that will be expanded in the po4a configuration file. Every occurrence of $(var) will be replaced by value. This option can be used multiple times.
--msgid-bugs-address email [at] address
Set the report address for msgid bugs. By default, the created POT files have no Report-Msgid-Bugs-To fields.
--copyright-holder string
Set the copyright holder in the POT header. The default value is ``Free Software Foundation, Inc.''
--package-name string
Set the package name for the POT header. The default is ``PACKAGE''.
--package-version string
Set the package version for the POT header. The default is ``VERSION''.
--msgmerge-opt options
Extra options for msgmerge.
This option adds '--previous' to the options passed to msgmerge. It requires gettext 0.16 or later.


Duplicates some code with the po4a-* programs.

Patch welcome ;)


 Denis Barbier <barbier [at] linuxfr.org>
 Martin Quinson (mquinson#debian.org)


Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004 by SPI, inc.

This program is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of GPL (see the COPYING file).