We believe that it’s never too late to comprehend the importance and practicality of XLIFF.

This is why in this blog, we will explore this specific file format and explain how you really manage XLIFF 2.0 in translation. Let’s dive in!

XLIFF in Translation

XLIFF is an XML-based format used to standardize the data transfers between systems. Also, it’s one of the most common formats used for the localization process and by CAT Tools. This special format enables translators to concentrate on the text to be translated, without worrying about text layout. The XLIFF standard is supported by a large group of localization service providers and localization tools providers.

XLIFF is used more often in the field of Software Translation. With many popular toolkits allowing you to export and import XLIFF files, it’s widely used for mobile app localization such as Android and iOS.

Perhaps, the most important reason for you to use XLIFF is that you can use a single file format when translating different kinds of content. It aims to eliminate the need for proprietary formats. This makes it a convenient file format for storing data. And while it’s more popular to localize software, many CMSs allow you to actually export the content for translation into an XLIFF file.

Translation process using XLIFF

XLIFF files are bilingual documents that hold the content to be localized. In addition, all corresponding translations, and additional data to improve localization efficiency. With XLIFF files, both source and target language data remain in sync as the localization process takes place.

XLIFF format specifies the elements, attributes as well as target translations that are used to store content that has been extracted from other sources.

A typical process of translating XLIFF looks like this:

  1. Text for translation is extracted from a system such as CMS or XCODE and saved as an XLIFF file.
  2. The extracted file is pre-translated using Translation Memory and/or Machine translation
  3. A human translator finishes the translation in an XLIFF-enabled translation editor.
  4. The translated XLIFF file is imported back to the original system and is used to generate translated content.
  5. The new translations are saved to the Translation Memory. Any future, similar, translations will be done faster and easier if they are managed via a Translation Management System, which hosts the given Translation Memory.

The difference between XLIFF 1.2 and XLIFF 2.0

Nowadays, companies swiftly move from XLIFF 1.2 to XLIFF 2.0 in order to improve their localization processes. The major difference between the two: XLIFF 2.0 enables better overview and control over what will be translated and how, and whether, it will include strings and metadata.

When it comes to the translation process, XLIFF 2.0 is a complete overhaul of the previous XLIFF 1.2 standard. The new structure of XLIFF 2.0 promises to ensure stability and allows for future enhancements.

New optional modules include:

  1. Glossary module that enables you to embed glossaries into XLIFF files
  2. Format Style Module that generates an HTML preview of XLIFF content using a predefined set of HTML formatting elements
  3. Change Tracking module that stores information on revision for XLIFF elements (and attributes)
A sample of XLIFF 2.0

Translating an XLIFF file in TextUnited

TextUnited is an advanced translation platform that supports both XLIFF 1.2 and XLIFF 2.0, as well as XLIFF that includes HTML code (XLIFF + HTML).

Here are some things to consider when using these file formats with TextUnited:

  • You will have to make sure that your file complies with the XLIFF 1.2 or XLIFF 2.0 specifications in order to be processed correctly.
  • All XLIFF formats should have the ID attribute, otherwise, the file cannot be processed correctly by TextUnited.
  • The ID attribute is required for XLIFF 1.2 and XLIFF 2.0 as in the official specifications

Software localization with XLIFF

Localizing your app can be divided into two main steps. The first step is to prepare all of the translatable strings (the content that will be visible to your app users). The second step is then to import translated resource files back to add the translation to your localized app.

XLIFF can boast the biggest support among translation tools. So, if you want to approach software localization systematically and consistently, spend the extra time to set up an effective XLIFF localization process. The process will pay back and produce faster and higher-quality translations in the long run.

When it comes to Android Apps, the knowledge that you own of Java programming language and the familiarity with Android resource loading, the declaration of user interface elements in XML, development considerations such as activity lifecycle, and general principles of internationalization and localization will take you a step closer to a good localization.

It is a good practice to use the Android resource framework to separate the localized aspects of your app as much as possible from the core Java-based functionality. The content of your app’s UI can be put into the resource files. The behaviour of the UI depends on your Java-based code.

This means that if a user inputs data that needs to be formatted or sorted differently depending on locale, you would use the Java programming language to handle the data programmatically.

Are you ready to operate on and translate your XLIFF files?

We support a plethora of file types and we’re long-time runners in the field of file translation – if you have any additional questions about XLIFF or other file formats, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will be glad to help!