Add a New Language to a User Interface Format

The user interface of GEDitCOM II within its record "browser" windows is controlled by the current "User Interface Format." Since you can edit these formats in the GEDitCOM Editor, you can customize that part of GEDitCOM II as much as you want. Although most customizations require programming skills, one thing you do without programming is to add support for a new language to an existing user interface format. Once a language is added, you can use that language by opening the format and then selecting your preferred language from the pop-up menu in the "Editing" tab of GEDitCOM II's preferences window.

This tutorial explains the process of adding support for a new language:

Select User Interface Format to Translate

If a user interface format is written well, it makes it much easier to add complete support for a new language. The following formats provided with GEDitCOM II are "ready for translation":

  1. Default Format
  2. Book Format and Basic Format - once one is translated, you can import your work into the other one and have them both translated.
  3. GEDCOM Tab View - a good way to learn all GEDCOM terms.
  4. Address Book Format
  5. Chart Format

Also note that translating a format only translates parts of the GEDitCOM II controlled by the user interface format. It does not translate GEDitCOM II menu commands, some preferences, or tool bar items. Translations of these items will come later by different methods. This tutorial is about all things any user can translate for themselves.

The master copy of many format translations strings are stored on google docs. If user's are interested in contributing to copies that will be shared with all (when updates are posted), please contact us for details.

Translate the Strings

Translation of a user interface format means to translate a set of strings from the provided English into the added language. The steps are:

  1. Open the user interface format in the GEDitCOM Editor (hint: if you are using the format in GEDitCOM II, you can use the menu command "Open Current Format in Editor")
  2. In the GEDitCOM Editor, choose menu command Template→Languages→Export Languages... and save to a plain text file (you should add extension .txt).
  3. Open that exported file in spreadsheet software (such as Microsoft Excel or Apple's Numbers)
  4. Add a new column to right of all other columns and enter the name or your language in the first row
  5. Now for the hard part: For every row in the data, translate the "English" string in the second column and type the results into the new last column. The one exception is the string with "<LANG>" in the first column and "English" in the second. For this one string, type in the name of your language and not a translation of the word "English." The name should match the name you used in the column header.
  6. Save your results to a native spreadsheet file (e.g, an Excel or Numbers document, which will have extension .xls, .xlsx or extension .numbers).
  7. Proceed to importing your work into the user interface format.

Most translations will go smoothly (if you speak English and the new language fluently). At times, you might need to see where the string is used to have a better idea of what it means and how it should be translated. One way to check string context is to run the format in GEDitCOM II using English strings and look for use of that string. It may not always be easy to find where it is used. You can open and check various types of genealogy records in their windows. Additionally, open the GEDitCOM II preferences window and check the names of fonts, colors, and editing options. If you have trouble with a particular string, you can send an email to geditcom.com support for help.

Import Strings to the User Interface Format

To import the strings into the user interface format, you need to save them again as a tab-delimited plain text file and then import using the GEDitCOM Editor. Although this should be easy with spreadsheet software, Microsoft's Excel has trouble saving non-English characters in a compatible format and also has problems with strings containing commas and quotes. Apple's Numbers does not even have an option to save to a tab-delimited text file. Here is a process that solves these problems:

  1. Open the native spread sheet file from the translation step.
  2. Select from row 1, column 1 (with must have text "Key") to the last row of your new last column and copy the text.
  3. Open a new document in a good text editor (BBEdit works well. You can also use Apple's TextEdit, but you must convert the new document to "Plain Text" before proceeding).
  4. Paste all text into the new text document (if you have accented characters, check to make sure they survived the copy and paste).
  5. Choose the text editor's "Save As..." menu command and save to a plain text file (with extension .txt) and select the option to save using "UTF8" characters. (Thus, the definition of a good text editor means it lets you select the character set when you save plain text files.)

The final step is to import the strings you just saved into the user interface format:

  1. Open the user interface format in the GEDitCOM Editor
  2. Choose menu command Template→Languages→Import Languages..." and select the saved plain text file from above.
  3. You will see a dialog box that describes which languages the import utility found and offers some importing options. If you included all strings in your file, choose the first option to "Replace all current keys and strings with imported keys and strings."Click OK to import.
  4. Expand the "Properties" section of the Format's templates (left edge of its window) to verify your new language has been added. Click on the language to verify all strings were imported correctly. Be sure to check strings with accented characters.
  5. Choose menu command "Save and Run" (or click its icon in the tool bar) to open the format in GEDitCOM II for testing. To try your new language, open GEDitCOM II preferences, click on the "Editing" tab, and select your language from the pop-up menu at the bottom of the window.

If the strings file had problems, the GEDitCOM Editor will usually explain the problem and not import the strings (in steps 2-3 above). If you get no error message, but the strings are not found in step 4 above, open the Console app (found in Utilities folder of your Application folder) and see if the GEDitCOM Editor printed any error messages. Occasionally poorly formatted files cause an error without triggering a better error message. If such errors happen, contact geditcom.com support for help.

Share your Work

If you complete the above steps, you will have a personal user interface format with a new language. If you would like to share your work with other users, please email the native spreadsheet file to geditcom.com and we will try to add it to that format posted on the web and/or included in the GEDitCOM II installation package.

For those interested in maintaining their translations, the strings for all formats are stored on a globally-accessible, secure server. These source string files are occasionally made available to selected users to they can directly edit strings they translated and/or make updates as the interface formats are updated to new features. If you are interested in this option, please contact geditcom.com.