Chapter 1. Introduction

The transition from the KDE Software Collection to the new release scheme Frameworks, Plasma Workspace and Applications introduced major changes to the workflow for KDE translators.


This document is a simple tutorial for translation. If you are not sure about how to interpret what is written here, please ask the kde-i18n-doc mailing list. If you want to know more on localization, please refer to this page.


In this document are a few email addresses from persons, not only from mailing lists. Most of these persons, if not all, are volunteers, and therefore might not be able to answer within a day (even less in near real-time). If you do not get any answer for days (at most a week), please ask the mailing list instead. (If you had attached an attachment in your original email, please do not send this attachment to the mailing list.)

As stated in the abstract, this HOWTO is meant for everybody interested in KDE translation. It is not taken for granted that such people are at the same time developers, "geeks", or that they know the ins and outs of all this stuff anyway and just want to check if others are as smart as they are. ;-) On the contrary, translation can be one of the fields for non-programmers and non-techs to contribute to the KDE project if they would like to.

Areas covered are the introduction of new languages to KDE, the resources available, translation of the graphic user interface (GUI) and of the documentation (which provides the bulk of the on-line help). The translation of the KDE web sites, handling of bug reports and user feedback are described to some extent.


We do not try to define exactly what is meant by the terms "i18n" (short for "internationalization") or "l10n" (short for "localization"), much less to stick to such definitions throughout the document, especially that those two terms were used wrongly in KDE for a long time. In theory "i18n" means to prepare code to allow it to be internationalized, i.e. to be translated, to show correct date forms, to write in the correct text direction and other such important stuff for the user. In theory "l10n" means the data for a specific country or language (translations, flags, date format, etc.) In KDE, "l10n" was more country-related, while "i18n" was more language-related. This wrong use of the terms have been fixed in the meanwhile, but it may still be present in one or another KDE document or name (e.g. the name of the kde-i18n-doc mailing list). (For a short explanation of the original meaning and the development side of both terms take a look at

This HOWTO is mostly a "quick start" type of document and can, therefore, only serve as an initial overview of what is required for practical translation work. It cannot provide a thorough explanation of areas as complex as, for instance, Unicode or the inner workings of DocBook as used in KDE documentation. You can address the translation team via sending e-mail to its mailing list for subjects of general interest, namely For things related to documentation writing there is another list:

Since I have been asked about this: Everyone who feels like it, is invited to translate this document for the use of an individual language team. Please feel free to replace the German translation examples with your own ones and to add whatever you think could be useful for your team or to skip what does not make sense in your context. But since all things KDE are changing rapidly, please always make sure that you are using the latest DocBook source of the HOWTO for such translations. Major revisions will be announced on the translators' and documenters' mailing list at Also probably, issues and errata about this document will appear there before being incorporated into this document.


This document is more written for somebody wanting to become the coordinator of a new language in KDE. If your goal is simply knowing how to translate in KDE, the document will be more tedious to read and to use, unfortunately, even if it is currently probably the best document to know how to translate for KDE.

Having said all that, constructive feedback or contributions are highly welcome, of course. Send an email to and tell what you would like to see in here.