Internationalization and localization


Django has full support for internationalization of text in code and templates, and format localization of dates and numbers. Here’s how it works.

Essentially, Django does two things:

  • It allows developers and template authors to specify which parts of their apps should be translatable.
  • It uses these hooks to translate Web apps for particular users according to their language preferences.

The complete process can be seen as divided in three stages. It is also possible to identify an identical number of roles with very well defined responsibilities associated with each of these tasks (although it’s perfectly normal if you find yourself performing more than one of these roles):

  • For application authors wishing to make sure their Django apps can be used in different locales: Internationalization.
  • For translators wanting to translate Django apps: Localization.
  • For system administrators/final users setting up internationalized apps or developers integrating third party apps: Deployment of translations.

For more general information about the topic, see the GNU gettext documentation and the Wikipedia article.


First lets define some terms that will help us to handle a common language:

locale name
A locale name, either a language specification of the form ll or a combined language and country specification of the form ll_CC. Examples: it, de_AT, es, pt_BR. Note the underscore in some of them and the case of the part located to its right.
language code
Represents the name of a language. Browsers send the names of the languages they accept in the Accept-Language HTTP header using this format. Examples: it, de-at, es, pt-br. Note the - separator.
message file
A message file is a plain-text file, representing a single language, that contains all available translation strings and how they should be represented in the given language. Message files have a .po file extension.
translation string
A literal that can be translated.

Specialties of Django translation

Django’s translation machinery uses the standard gettext module that comes with Python. If you know gettext, you might note these specialties in the way Django does translation:

  • The string domain is django or djangojs. This string domain is used to differentiate between different programs that store their data in a common message-file library (usually /usr/share/locale/). The django domain is used for python and template translation strings and is loaded into the global translation catalogs. The djangojs domain is only used for JavaScript translation catalogs to make sure that those are as small as possible.
  • Django doesn’t use xgettext alone. It uses Python wrappers around xgettext and msgfmt. This is mostly for convenience.

Django technical message IDs

Alterado no Django 1.2: Starting with Django 1.2, technical message IDs are being replaced by Format localization

Django uses technical message IDs to translate date formats and time formats. Technical message IDs are translation strings and can be easily recognized; they’re all upper case. You don’t translate the message ID as with other translation strings, you provide the correct local variant on the provided English value. The format is identical to the format strings used by the now template tag.

For example, with DATETIME_FORMAT (or DATE_FORMAT or TIME_FORMAT), this would be the format string that you want to use in your language. A Django contributor localizing it to Spanish probably would provide a "j N Y P" “translation” for it in the relevant django.po file:

msgstr "j N Y P"