SINTL(1) General Commands Manual SINTL(1)


sintlsimple internationalisation utility


sintl [-cekq] [-j xliff] [-u xliff] [html5...]


The sintl utility extracts translatable strings from HTML5 files (-e), joins XLIFF translation files and untranslated HTML5 files (-j), and merges new or removed translations (-u). Its arguments are as follows:
Copy mode: when used with -e, assigns the same target as the source. With -u, does the same for new entries. By default, in either case the target is left blank. For -j, missing translations are filled in from the input file's content.
Extracts translatable strings from html5, emitting a skeleton XLIFF translation file on standard output.
-j xliff
Translate (“join”) html5 using xliff, emitting translated HTML5 on standard output.
When used with -u, keep entries that are no longer valid. Otherwise is ignored.
Quiet: don't note additions and deletions when -u is used.
-u xliff
Update xliff with new translatable strings in html5. Non-matching terms are discarded unless -k is specified. Additions and deletions are noted on standard error.
HTML5 input files to be translated or mined for translatable information.
By default, sintl behaves as if -e were used.

Elements and text

Each text node in the HTML5 input files is its own translatable string, unless the text node is in a phrasing content element. (Except <iframe>, <noscript>, <select>, <script>, and <textarea>.) For example,
  <div>foo <i>bar</i> baz</div> 
results in two translatable strings: “foo <i>bar</i> baz” and “foobar”.
Contiguous white-space is collapsed into a single space and empty keys are ignored. This is why the text node preceding the div is omitted. You may override the whitespace behaviour with the xml:space="preserve" attribute, which affects the current and descendent nodes by not trimming whitespace at all.
Translation may be controlled with the its:translate attribute, which is set to either yes or no. When set to no, descendents of the labelled node are not examined for translatable content. When set to yes, the opposite is true.


Attributes are carried over into the translatable keys to differentiate similar content.
In a break from standard usage, translations may change attribute values simply by changing the attribute content. For example,
<trans-unit id="unit1"> 
  <source><g id="unit1-1" xhtml:href="foo.html">Hi</g>!</source> 
  <target>Le <g id="unit1-1" xhtml:href="">hi</g> !</target> 
In this example, the attribute of the translated element will replace that of the source.


sintl performs a number of optimisations to prevent superfluous content from being considered for translation. First, translation strings consisting only of an empty tag are removed. For example,
<p> <img src="path/to/image.png" /> </p>
These tags may be surrounded by white-space and arbitrarily nested.
Second, tags surrounding text are stripped away. For example,
<p> <a href="a/link.html"><i><strong>Hello.</strong></i></a> </p>
This will produce only the “Hello.” for translation.


The sintl utility exits 0 on success, and >0 if an error occurs.


Let the following simple file, index.xml, be used as a template for translating into different languages.
<!DOCTYPE html> 
<html xmlns:its=""> 
  <body><p>hello <img src="foo.jpg" /> world</p></body> 
We can then create an initial XLIFF file as follows.
sintl -e index.xml > index.en.xliff
Now edit the XLIFF file.
<xliff version="1.2"> 
  <file source-language="TODO" target-language="en"> 
      <trans-unit id="unit1"> 
      <trans-unit id="2"> 
        <source>hello <x id="0" xhtml:src="foo.jpg"/> world</source> 
        <target>Hello, World!</target> 
If the lang attribute were specified on the input <html> root element, it would have been propogated in the source-language atttribute. It defaults to TODO. Finally, create a translated output file as follows.
sintl -j index.en.xliff index.xml > index.en.html
This can be repeated for as many translation files as necessary. Many systems will use a baseline translation (e.g., English) as the template, but I find it easier to translate based on sources that are identifiers, not content.


HTML5 files to translate must be valid XML-form HTML5 documents annotated with a subset of the W3C ITS v2.0 attributes. Files holding translation dictionaries must be valid XLIFF 1.2 files.


The sintl utility was written by Kristaps Dzonsons,


sintl ignores translation comments within translated phrasing content. For example:
<i>Hello, <span its:translate="no">world</span>.</i>
In this example, the non-translatable content is simply passed into the output. Non-conformant HTML5, with non-phrasing content embedded in phrasing content, is explicitly disallowed. For example:
<i>Hello, <div its:translate="no">world</div>.</i>
August 2, 2018 OpenBSD 6.3