XML is an extensible markup language that uses tags to describe and organize data so that it can be easily communicated across computers.
In some cases, a company might need an XML translator software so they can share information, such as a product database, with their overseas counterparts.
The tricky part with translating XML files, especially as a layperson, is that it’s often difficult to extract the content from the syntax while preserving its structure perfectly.
That’s why we’ve created this simple tutorial on how to use the best XML translator tools that are functional for both XML beginners and pros.
- Basic Information about XML Files
- List of Best XML Translator Software
- Which should I use?
XML files are essentially plain text documents you can view and edit with either
- a generic text editor - Notepad or Microsoft Word.
- a sophisticated XML program - XML Notepad or Oxygen XML Editor
Their main purpose is to transfer organized information from one tool to another.
Like HTML, XML documents uses < tags > to define and categorize data in a hierarchy. However, unlike HTML, users can create their own tags to describe a set of data (hence the name extensible markup language).
Although these tags may contain content words, they do not require translating because they are merely used to organize the information they mark.
If the XML file format is fairly new to you, I highly recommend checking out this article by How To Geek for a more detailed explanation.
Important Info about Translating XML Files
There are many file types based on XML, which is highly customizable and may vary from company to company. Due to these customizations, translation solutions for XML files tend not to be one-size-fits-all.
Software that do offer XML translation usually support the standardized XLIFF file format (.xlif/.xliff ) only.
If you use custom flavors of XML files and need to translate them regularly, I recommend writing a piece of software that converts them into XLIFF and then vice versa. This is to ensure that your translation software will work properly with the XML document while maintaining a optimized workflow.
Apart from that, the main challenge of XML translation is to extract and translate the semantic content while preserving the tag structures that serve to create a hierarchy of information.
This is where one would need a good XML translation software so here are some free and paid options.
Redokun is a cloud-based translation software you can use to translate XML files in the XLIFF format, which again is the XML standard used for translation. It's a simple and intuitive tool anyone can use to translate their XML files in 3 steps:
- First, upload your XML document with the .xlif/xliff extension and Redokun will display the content that needs to be translated in neat sections.
- Then, translate using the web editor, which will also suggest translations for you based on a third-party service (Google Translate or DeepL).
- Lastly, download translated XML document without worrying about the formatting.
Your translations are automatically saved and you can even repurpose them for other translation tasks in the future (this is known as translation memory).
While Redokun requires a subscription, you can start a free trial by clicking here.
Besides translating XML files, Redokun can help you manage your translation workflow with ease. Redokun is an example of a translation management system, and translating XML files is an extension of its features. Learn more about these translation ecosystems here.
You can download this free XML Content Translator at Nikse.dk, which is as easy as it gets.
When you upload your XML file to the program, it automatically organizes the tags and their content into neat columns so that you can review them at a glance.
Then you may select the source language and target language, and the translations (provided by Google Translate) will appear in the last column as seen here:
Image obtained from Nikse.dk
Overall, XML Content Translator is a good starter program when you have a simple and well structured XML file to begin with. Otherwise, your file might be unreadable for the software.
Furthermore, since this is only a translator rather than an editor, you can't make changes to the text within the program.
Across Translator Edition is a freemium translation tool that supports XML files. It requires a higher level of understanding of how tags and attributes are structured in XML files as detailed here.
I would recommend Across if you’re well versed in markup languages and have an extensive need to translate XML documents.
Do note that the free version does not include access to machine translation within the program, so you may spend more time referring to one externally.
XML Notedpad is an open-source XML editor. While it doesn't have a built-in translator, it's simply easier to see and understand how the content is configured using this tool.
When paired with an external translator like Google Translate, it can help speed up the translation process because you can spend less time trying to tell the tags and the content apart.
As mentioned before, XML data is hierarchical, which means each category of information can have sub-categories, and each sub-category can have sub-sub-categories... ad infinitum.
The tree view on XML Notepad helps you distinguish this hierarchy easily so you can just click on the relevant category to copy, translate, and change as you wish.
Image obtained from Microsoft Corporation, MIT
I would recommend this method of translating XML documents for those who know their way around markup languages. However, it's not the most productive method for high-volume XML translations.
There are generally two ways to translate an XML document. You can either:
A. Use an XML editor with an external translation service - If you know your way around XML text, these editors give you more control over the details so you can avoid having a broken XML file after translation.
However, expect to spend more time on translating because you would need to refer and copy-paste from another source (like Google Translate) segment by segment.
B. Use an XML translator - If you are fairly new to the whole XML business or like me, you cry at the sight of HTML-like text, it’s better to use a special translation software that converts the document into a more easily readable form and then edit from there.
This method also applies if you have to translate a significant amount of XML text. It automatizes the tedious parts, such as ensuring the tags are properly formatted and grouped at the right level, and enables you to focus on other aspects of your task.
If your business needs to translate more than just XML documents, you could consider using a computer-assisted translation (CAT) software that supports more file formats. Check out our article on CAT tools here.
Hope this helps,