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Updated
January 12, 2023

Using WPML’s Translation Management features, translators and translation services can receive translation jobs as XLIFF files, translate them offline and upload their work back to WordPress.

Translators and translation services can receive XLIFF files in two different ways: by email or by manual download.

Translation Management features are only available in the Multilingual CMS and Multilingual Agency versions of WPML.

Receiving XLIFF Files via Email

When a translation job is sent to a local translator, the translator gets notified by email. Each notification email will include a ZIP file that contains the XLIFF files of the translation jobs assigned to the translator.

Site administrators can adjust notification options on the Translation Notifications tab found on the WPMLSettings page.

If the original documents are published, the notification email will also include links to them. Translators are encouraged to review them in order to learn more about the structure and context of the site they are translating.

Manually Downloading XLIFF Files

Start by going to WPML → Translation Management and send your content for translation. Your translators can then export the XLIFF files of translation jobs from the WPMLTranslations page.

To export XLIFF files for selected jobs, select them from the list, the XLIFF version to export to, and click the Apply button.

To export XLIFF files for all jobs, scroll to the Import/Export XLIFF section, choose the XLIFF version, and click the Export button.

Exporting XLIFF files

XLIFF Format Structure

WPML allows you to control the XLIFF version and which elements to include in it. This ensures that the generated file is compliant with the XLIFF standard.

The XLIFF options are located in WPMLSettings.

XLIFF file options

XLIFF Version

If you set the default version for XLIFF files, it will be sent along with email notifications to translators. If needed, translators can change the XLIFF version from the WPMLTranslations page.

Selecting a default version only affects the XLIFF export process. This option has no impact when importing XLIFF files.

Differences between XLIFF versions are in the XLIFF tag attributes version and XML namespace. The content of body and trans-unit tag remains the same across versions from 1.0 to 1.2.

New Lines Character

Normally, in HTML, you insert <br /> tags to generate line breaks. In WordPress, new lines generate line breaks too. Use this option to select if you would like to replace new lines characters in trans-unit tags with:

<br class="xliff-newline" />

Notes Within XLIFF Files

It is possible to add a note for a specific page before sending it for translation. This note is then available to the translator when they get a translation job.

Leaving a note for a translator

This note becomes part of the XLIFF file sent to the translator. The note is placed within the phase-group section of the file. This section has three phase-name subsections:

  1. shortcodes – this subsection holds a list of all shortcodes that are being used in the site’s content.
  2. notes – this subsection contains a note for the translator.
  3. post_type – this subsection contains the post type of the page that is being translated.
Part of the XLIFF file with notes

Some Notes to Translators Working with XLIFF Files

Unique WordPress Content Elements

Although XLIFF files are standard, they contain some elements that are unique to WordPress. Understanding these special features will allow you to create better translations.

Categories, Tags and Custom Fields

WordPress content is often organized in categories. It may have tags and custom fields. These are extra data fields added to the main content.

All these special fields will appear as individual XLIFF fields. They have names, but these names may not always be clear to you initially. When you see small fields below the main content, ask the site administrator what they mean. These fields will normally repeat for different jobs that you do on the same site.

Returning Completed Translations

When you’re done translating, log in to WordPress and go to the WPML Translations page. At the bottom of that page you will find an option for XLIFF file upload.

Importing XLIFF files

You can upload individual XLIFF files or ZIP several files together and upload the ZIP.

When you upload your work, WordPress automatically notifies the site administrator. You can only upload translations that were assigned to you from that website.

Troubleshooting XLIFF File Issues

When you upload a file, WPML checks the XLIFF ID to ensure that you are uploading the right file. If the XLIFF IDs do not match, you will get an error message. If this happens, please see our FAQ about the error message, The uploaded XLIFF file doesn’t belong to this system.