XLIFF format

Okapi Framework

Okapi Framework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

XLIFF stands for XML Localisation Interchange File Format (current version is 1.2 and was released in February 2008). The good thing with XLIFF is that it was created specifically for the localization industry and that it is standardized, which means that (theoretically) all the software developers use the same computing language, which makes easier the data interchange between translation/localization tools. XML stands for eXtended Markup Language. The word “extended”, also found in XHTML, implies that anyone is free to make up new attributes or, in other words, to customize the tags. I could perfectly create a new kind of XLIFF with a customized tag called “transtutorial” that would display the strings to which I would apply it with the font Arial, 14 points, in red color and underlined, for instance.

As expected, many toolmakers took advantage of the extension possibilities of XLIFF to create slightly modified versions of the strict XLIFF standard and, now, to avoid compatibility issues, the XLIFF Technical Committee is currently trying to analyze and compile all those new features and to get the developing community to an agreement on the future XLIFF 2.0 Specification in order to give support to all the new features without using the extensibility, i.e. avoiding the toolmakers to invent their own attributes.

More and more translation tools that are developed nowadays support or are directly based on XLIFF (or a slightly modified kind of XLIFF). Many tools were created to check, manipulate or edit XLIFF files, such as:

  • XLIFFChecker (an open source tool that checks compliance of XLIFF files with the official standard published by OASIS)
  • XLIFFMerger (a free Java tool for merging and splitting XLIFF files).
  • Translate Toolkit converts various file formats to XLIFF and provides checking, filtering and manipulation tools for the format.
  • Okapi Framework provides multiple filters that generate XLIFF documents.
  • xliffRoundTrip Tool (an open source tool to convert a well-formed XML file into XLIFF and back to XML after translation)
  • QA Distiller (commercial QA tool that runs automated translation quality checks on bilingual files, including XLIFF files)
  • Verifika (commercial QA tool that runs automated translation quality checks on bilingual files, including XLIFF files)
  • ApSIC Xbench (a free QA tool for searching terminology and checking automatically the quality of many bilingual XLIFF files, among other XLIFF)
  • Benten (an open source XLIFF editor)
  • OmegaT (a cross-platform and open source CAT tool)
  • Pootle (a web-based localisation platform)
  • Heartsome (a suite of cross-platform CAT tools founded on open standards: XLIFF, TMX, TBX, SRX, XML, GMX)
  • Swordfish III (a cross-platform CAT tool that uses XLIFF 1.2 as native format)
  • Virtaal (an open source CAT tool)
  • Web Translate It (a web-based CAT tool)
  • XTM Cloud (a web-based CAT environment mainly based on XLIFF (1.0 through to 1.2).
  • MultiCorpora Prism XLIFF Editor (a desktop XLIFF editor to translate XLIFF files created with MultiCorpora Prism, an online CAT and project management tool)

For more information on XLIFF, see:



For more information on the future XLIFF 2.0 Specification, see:



4 responses to “XLIFF format

  1. Pingback: Translation: OmegaT, free and open source CAT tool:http://t.co/nB8jU6Gd #FOSS #opensource #CAT #xl8n #xl8 #t9n #languages #translation #vertalen « Dana Translation

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