Translators are highly encouraged to use dedicated GNU gettext message catalogs files (PO files) editing tools. Even though PO files are plain text files which may be modified with any text editor, the use of dedicated tools will save translators a lot of time.
This document does not intend to be a reference document about these tools. Most tools have been packaged for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and thus installing them on a Debian system is as easy as running apt-get install <package>.
Short list of PO editing tools:
Lokalize (Debian package
lokalize): very complete and
powerful. Needs installing the KDE libraries (but, of course, it
may work without the full KDE environment).
The Lokalize editor (formerly KBabel) is undoubtfully the most complete gettext message catalogs editor and its use is recommended by the Debian Installer i18n coordinators. Its support for non-Latin languages is very complete, including correct Right-To-Left (RTL) and BiDi support for Arabic/Hebrew and other RTL languages as well as support for combined languages such as languages using the Devanagari script.
The major drawback is for Gnome users: it may be quite long to launch and memory hungry because of the need of KDE and Qt libraries.
Gtranslator (Debian package
gtranslator): PO-file editor for the
Gtranslator is roughly the equivalent of Lokalize for users of the Gnome environment. Of course, it can be used outside the Gnome environment with the same drawback as Lokalize.
However, it is not well suited for Debian Installer translations as
it does not properly support Plural
Forms. So translators working on files which include
plural forms (
base-config are among those
files) should absolutely avoid using Gtranslator.
Poedit (Debian package
poedit): quite complete tool but no
correct handling of non Latin languages on Debian. Uses the
Emacs po-mode (Debian package
gettext-el): editing mode for the
Emacs/XEmacs editor. Emacs wizards will probably appreciate
using the same editing environment for gettext message catalog
The Emacs po-mode is however limited when it comes to "advanced" features such as auto-learning, message compendiums use and other very useful features for translators.