Create a diff for i18n strings.xml files to manage localization on Android

Keeping all your strings.xml files synchronized in Android projects can be painful, as Eclipse doesn’t tell you which strings have no localized version in which language. Android is perfectly happy with it as well, it just uses the default (usually English) string in the app, much for the joy of your non-English users.

I came up with a simple Python script that just scans your res/values-** folders for strings.xml files and, using your default res/values/strings.xml as reference, outputs a list of missing strings for each file, along with the original value set for the key.

So, if for instance your res/values/strings.xml is this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <string name="app_name">My App</string>
    <string name="title_activity_main">My Activity</string>
    <string name="hello_world">Hello, World!</string>

and your, say, res/values-it/strings.xml is this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <string name="app_name">La mia App</string>
    <string name="title_activity_main">La mia Activity</string>

and your… res/values-fr/strings.xml? is this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <string name="app_name">Mon App</string>
    <string name="hello_world">Bonjour, Monde!</string>

the script would output:

Missing in /home/whatever/wherever/.../App/res/values-it/strings.xml:
<string name="hello_world">Hello, World!</string>

Missing in /home/whatever/wherever/.../App/res/values-fr/strings.xml:
<string name="title_activity_main">My Activity</string>

So the idea is that you can cut and paste those lines in the appropriate files to translate them.

The script also outputs some warnings in case it finds duplicate keys in any of the strings.xml files.
Your localized strings.xml files may have more <string> items than the default, as no check is performed against that.

I put the script it in a folder within my Android projects that is simply ignored by Android (I usually call it not_in_apk or something like that), so if you put it elsewhere remember to change the path at line 23

path_to_default = '../res/values/strings.xml'

to the path to your default strings.xml file (absolute or relative, it should work anyway).

I didn’t do much testing, so it may not work for you… Worst thing that can happen is.. it doesn’t work 🙂
It won’t mess with your files, I promise you that.

Here’s the script! Run it with python

Last note: this script only takes strings.xml files into account, you should run Android Lint to check for strings to be translated in other XML files (stringarrays.xml and other files).


One thought on “Create a diff for i18n strings.xml files to manage localization on Android

  1. Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information.

    I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you are even
    remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.


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