Translation information

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Community based, user oriented

The translations of the various documents focusing on Inkscape rely on the work of volunteers. Motivation for this work can range from the simple pleasure to contribute to take the opportunity of learning a lot about Inkscape and translation processes. It is very important not to forget that Inkscape is an open source, community based and user oriented project, which implies that software developers/contributors are generally users. It also implies that the translation efforts are user oriented, with a strong focus on interface, user documentation and website.


  1. Contact to a local translation group, to get support and help on your language. Rather than working alone, you should work with an experienced translation team for your language. Thus you will benefit from their knowledge, as well as being able to communicate with them on your own mother tongue. Moreover, translation teams use to have style guidelines and a standarized vocabulary for technical terms that you should be aware of. Contact information is likely available on top of the po file for your language (see point 3). If you do not have detailed contact information, there may be many communities working on translations for your own language: a good starting point is subscribing to your local GNOME translation team or KDE translation team.
  2. Subscribe to Inkscape translator mailing list. By subscribing on Inkscape's translator list you will be able to ask for help on some questions more related to Inkscape issues to other Inkscape translators, as well as the mantainers.
  3. Get files for your language. If you only want to translate the interface messages, you can get the files from Inkscape's bazaar repository web interface. Besides getting files from web interface, you can obtain the full repository (see Working with Bazaar). See section #Translatable_content for which files you have to modify to translate each part of Inkscape.
  4. Submit finished work to patch tracker. Finished translations must be sent to patch tracker and/or mailing list in order to be integrated into the trunk. You will need a Launchpad account to commit patches to Inkscape's patch tracker. Before sending a file, remember to check that the file(s) you are submitting doesn't have syntax errors that would break the building process.
  5. Send a mail on the translator mailing list. Your contribution will be reviewed/commited as soon as possible.

Best practices

  • Best case for a good translation: translate from English to your mother tongue.
  • Test the behavior of the interface before starting translation.
  • Several small updates are more efficient than only a big one.
  • If you're new to Inkscape, or to vector software, taking a look at Inkscape Terminology page can be a good idea. It is a work in progress, but can give some clues on basic vocabulary of Inkscape.
  • Some good explanations of the behavior of Inkscape, also using some reference terminology can be found here: A Guide to Inkscape and User manual.
  • Always keep in mind consistency of terminology; a simple, precise & explicit vocabulary/style will result in an efficient and thus good translation.
  • Don't hesitate to ask others (developers/translators/users) if you don't understand a word/sentence or if you think an original string is not good (too complex, not precise enough, etc.).

Polishing Translations - Microtypography

Here are some things to note in order to achieve good microtypography (typography at the word or character level).

  • use the proper quotes (e.g. »foo« or «foo» or “foo”, depending on your local rules)
  • use the proper kind of dashes (with the proper amount of whitespace around them) - EN DASH (U+2013): "–", MINUS (U+2212): "−"
  • use non-breakable space where appropriate (e.g. before units; some countries use a halfspace here) - NO-BREAK SPACE (U+00A0): " "
  • use halfspace where appropriate (example: "z. B.") NARROW No-BREAK SPACE U+202F: " "
  • use "24×24", not "24x24"
  • use "90°", not "90 degrees" where appropriate
  • use the proper Unicode codepoint for "..." - "…". In German at least, a space comes before this ellipsis.
  • see for information on the use of SI units in Unicode
  • write numbers correctly - either with a decimal comma or a decimal point (see
  • see


Translatable content

Inkscape's translation effort covers many areas, from aplication UI itself to web pages and tutorials. This is a summary of all those areas, sorted by priority.

These tasks, rather than being for hackers only, can be achieved by most software enthusiasts, whether they have a technological background or were just plain users. The main requirement is the wish to provide support for Inkscape on your language: the technology required for you to do that has been developed in a simple approach, and it involves mainly text files and applications used to verify its syntax. Supporting applications were existing to make these tasks much easier.

User interface

PO files contain the strings for the Inkscape user interface (main software and extentions). A PO file is a text file which contains the original English message and its translation. That's why it is obviously the translation to start with.

See Interface translation page for detailed information on the PO files.


As you know, Inkscape comes with some very nice SVG tutorials. By translating them, users will learn how to use the application, as well its tips and tricks. It is even a good opportunity for you to become more acquainted with Inkscape.

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information on tutorial translation.

Keyboard and mouse shortcuts

Inkscape is proud for having keyboard and mouse shortcuts for almost all of its functionality. Those shortcuts can help you increase your drawing productivity/efficiency. The map of the default shortcuts is embedded in the interface (help menu) next to the tutorials, and can also be accessed from the web site.

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information on translating shortcuts.

Windows installer

High value for users, even if the installation process of Inkscape is quite simple, translating the Windows installer helps potential users a lot to get a good feeling when they use Inkscape.

See Interface translation page for detailed information for Windows installer translation.


The default template of the Inkscape document can be localized to make the localization consistent. Localized can be the (size?) of the default document and also the name of the default layer.

See Interface translation page for detailed information on default document's template.

Man pages

The man pages consist of a standard user documentation, available from the command line. On Unixbased systems simply type "man inkscape" from the prompt of a command window.

Some distributions also generate a browsable (html) man page, accessible from a dedicated help shortcut.

The man page of Inkscape provides some insightful information about the software, especially focused on operations that do not require GUI (example: export to png from the command line, or extract one object from a svg file).

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information for man page translation.

Release notes

Translating release notes helps the "normal user" to get a lot of insight into the capabilities of Inkscape.

  • gives a general overview of the possibilities of the software to potential users
  • can be used for local marketing (local Free Software/Linuw/Graphics oriented web sites, articles in fanzines, e-magazines and even magazines...)

See WebSite Translation page for detailed information on translating release notes.

User manual

Some members of the Inkscape community are also focusing on an UserManual. This document can be read as a reference document for advanced users and as a good introduction to the functionalities of Inkscape by everyone.

See Documentation Translation page for detailed information on translating the user manual.

Web pages, News and Wiki

English is generaly the exchange-tongue of developers, and developer/user documentation is mainly written in English.

Translation efforts should be first oriented on user documentation.

You can take a look at the WebSite Translation page for detailed information about how to translate the web content of Inkscape

See the main wiki page of Inkscape to get some examples (Spanish and German) of the translation of this wiki.


Text files found in the inkscape directory ...


See this dedicated page.

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