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1. Download and install gettext. Linux users should try to install it using their distributions package management (like rpm, dpkg, apt, ...). Windows user download gettext from Both make sure, that the gettext binaries are in your PATH environment variable.

Note for Windows users: If you installed the gettext binaries into e.g. C:\Program Files\GnuWin32, then you need to add C:\Program Files\GnuWin32\bin; to the existing PATH environment variable: Control PanelSystemEnvironment Variable (Tab Extended) OR run the following command in a windows command shell: set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Program Files\GnuWin32\bin;.. Windows XP and Windows 2000 are currently supported.

2. All targets related to internationalisation and localisation issues are part of File icon.gifbuild-i18n.xml. To create PO-template files, run ant -f build-i18n.xml update-pot. All File icon.gifLANG.po files (which contain the translation and are maintained by the translator himself) are updated with ant -f build-i18n.xml update-po. To create the final message catalogs, run ant -f build-i18n.xml update-catalog.

3. To create a translation in your language, go to src/org/jmol/translation/Jmol (for the application, respectively src/org/jmol/translation/JmolApplet for the applet) and copy File icon.gifJmol.pot (resp. File icon.gifJmolApplet.pot) to File icon.gifJmol-LANG.po (resp. File icon.gifJmolApplet-LANG.po) - LANG means your language code: e.g. de for German, fr for French and so on.

4. To begin your translation, open the newly created File icon.gifJmol-LANG.po or File icon.gifJmolApplet-LANG.po files with an editor of your choice - Windows users be aware, that the editor MUST NOT add any control characters (like e.g. Word does)!. There are also specialised editors for this work: e.g. poedit, kbabel, or gtranslator.

5. The opened file will look like this:

# This file is distributed under the same license as the PACKAGE package.

These lines are comments. Adjust them and add a descritpive title, the right copyright and your name as author. Be aware, that lines beginning with #, or #: have a special meaning and are not normal comments.

#, fuzzy
msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Project-Id-Version: PACKAGE VERSION\n"
"POT-Creation-Date: 2005-06-01 02:02+0200\n"
"PO-Revision-Date: YEAR-MO-DA HO:MI+ZONE\n"
"Last-Translator: FULL NAME <EMAIL@ADDRESS>\n"
"Language-Team: LANGUAGE <>\n"
"MIME-Version: 1.0\n"
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8\n"
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit\n"

We call this part the po-headers. The line #, fuzzy says, that the headers are outdated. Customise "Project-Id-Version: PACKAGE VERSION\n", "PO-Revision-Date: YEAR-MO-DA HO:MI+ZONE\n", "Last-Translator: FULL NAME <EMAIL@ADDRESS>\n" and maybe "Language-Team: LANGUAGE <>\n" (if you don't belong to a language team, then write none) and remove the fuzzy comment. In every case make sure, that Content-Type and Content-Transfer-Encoding are right (if possible, use UTF-8).

If you plan to use poedit to do the translation, you can add several lines to the headers (replace LANGUAGE and COUNTRY).

"X-Poedit-Language: LANGUAGE\n"
"X-Poedit-Country: COUNTRY\n"
"X-Poedit-Basepath: ../../../..\n"

Then begin the "real" translation:

#: org/openscience/jmol/app/
#: org/openscience/jmol/app/
msgid "About Jmol"
msgstr ""

#: org/openscience/jmol/app/
#: org/openscience/jmol/app/
#: org/openscience/jmol/app/
#, java-format
msgid "Unable to find url \"{0}\"."
msgstr ""

A line or block beginning with msgid contains the untranslated (or original) string inside double quotation marks. Above this line, you see the location entries #: path/to/ (where the string can be found in the source) and sometimes some special comments #, java-format or #, fuzzy or even #, fuzzy, java-format (telling you more about the format of a string or the state of a translation) - these lines are added and changed automatically by running ant -f build-i18n.xml update-po. Place your translation into the line or block beginning with msgstr and inside double quotation marks.

6. After finishing, add your translation (File icon.gifJmol-LANG.po) and File icon.gifJmolApplet-LANG.po to Jmol SVN and your language code to property all.Jmol.languages and all.JmolApplet.languages in File icon.gifbuild-i18n.xml.

7. At the end of this short howto, we should speak about special situations and a few hints, you should consider:

  • double quotation marks inside a string must be escaped with a backslash: msgstr "... \" ..."
  • single quotation marks must be doubled (two single quotation marks) for Java texts (#, java-format)
  • #, fuzzy means that the translation string is outdated (e.g. the original string changed) - in this situation, check your translation and adjust it if necessary - then you can remove the fuzzy string (e.g. line #, fuzzy, java-format becomes #, java-format)