How to translate XLIFF files online for free

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Way back at WWDC 2014, there were a number of noteworthy releases from Apple. One that gathered perhaps a little less attention was the adoption of the XLIFF file format.

What is XLIFF?

Let’s start by looking at what xliff is! An xliff is simply an xml file structured specifically for localization. We looked at some of the difficulties with localisation in mobile app development here.

An Xliff can be exported from Xcode in a chosen language, e.g en.xliff and then translated to another required language, say fr.xliff and then imported back into Xcode. It sounded simple and Apple was pretty confident that it would now be ‘industry standard’ for iOS developers.

How can you edit XLIFF files?

At Brightec, our iOS developers were thrilled with the XLIFF file format adoption, but we quickly discovered a small problem.

We couldn’t find a free online tool we could utilise to edit the new XLIFF files. Many of the big online translation software services didn’t yet support it.

There were a number of companies that will translate your XLIFF files for you but, of course, in exchange for a quick buck.

We created a free XLIFF editor tool

Firmly within the Brightec values, is our commitment to making people's lives better through our work. So we decided to build our own free XLIFF editor for mobile app developers to use.

Check our online XLIFF editor.

Our free XLIFF editor is a simple online tool that will take a file with the .xliff or .xlf extension and make it into an online form with the text strings laid out and a text field for the translations to be added.

The XLIFF editor tool doesn't have any database built in, so, users can just upload, edit and download again. Re-uploading a file will populate all of the form inputs so that a user can see which test is left to translate.

Every line is numbered and a handy button shows only the lines still needing translation so you can navigate the file easily.

Read about other tools Brightec have developed to help mobile app developers.

What XLIFF editor tools exist?

We won’t pretend this is the only XLIFF editor you’ll find. Here are some other tools we’ve found:

Pootle was probably the most popular out there initially:

  • Needs to be installed onto your own web server

  • Hasn't been updated in a long time

  • Installation is really hard, it's built in Python using the Django framework

  • We couldn't get any .xliff file to load into it, although others report they have had some success


  • Needs downloading and using locally

  • Doesn't work on iOS


  • Apparently works on iOS, but we couldn't get it to work


  • Seems reasonably powerful

  • Needs to be installed onto your own web server

  • Appears to be quite ‘buggy’

  • Far to complicated for most translators to comfortably use

Brightec’s free online XLIFF editor

Hopefully our tool will be what both iOS and Android App developers are looking for. Let us know of any improvements or changes you think it needs.

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