Supporting translations of documentation#

We support and encourage the translation of Jupyter documentation to other languages as one way of making our community more inclusive and diverse. We are working toward having a consistent model for translation of Sphinx documentation across Jupyter projects based on prior work in the Python and Django communities. This project ( and the Jupyter Docker Stacks project are early adopters, meant to prove out the workflows described on this page.


After initial project setup, changes to Sphinx documentation and its translations follow a continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD), much like project source code.

Who is involved in translating documentation#

Anyone is welcome to participate in writing and translating Jupyter documentation by participating in the workflow described below. This workflow has a handful of actors and components:

  • A person who makes changes to the English project documentation

  • A person who translates snippets of text in the English documentations into another language (locale)

  • Portable object files (.po) for the source documentation language (e.g., U.S. English, en-US) and for other locales (e.g., Brazilian Portuguese, pt-BR; Moroccan Arabic, ar-MA)

  • A continuous integration system like TravisCI, CircleCI, or GitHub Actions, responsible for

  • ReadTheDocs, our preferred service for building and hosting documentation

  • Transifex, a localization platform with free plans for open source projects, a friendly web interface, and support for .po files

The translation process#

  1. A user creates or edits reStructuredText (.rst) or Markdown (.md) documents written in U.S. English.

  2. The user submits a pull request on GitHub.

  3. A project maintainer reviews and merges the pull request.

  4. ReadTheDocs runs Sphinx to convert U.S. English source documents into HTML (e.g.,

  5. Meanwhile, the CI service runs Sphinx commands to extract translatable messages from U.S. English documents into en-US portable object (.po) files. For example:

# 5164fcd91a8a4700ac734562245773ad
#: ../../source/architecture/how_jupyter_ipython_work.rst:13
#: f68a21b0bc884dad9021c276e6490e6d
msgid ""
"The IPython kernel that provides computation and communication with the "
"frontend interfaces, like the notebook"
msgstr ""
  1. The CI service commits the English .po files to the project on GitHub. (e.g.,

  2. Transifex makes the messages in the English .po files available for translation in all configured languages.

  3. Over time, translation teams use the Transifex web application to create, review, and update translations for those languages (e.g.,

  4. Transifex submits a pull request to the GitHub project containing a localized .po file when all of the English messages have been translated, and optionally reviewed, for a given language (e.g., For example:

# 5164fcd91a8a4700ac734562245773ad
#: ../../source/architecture/how_jupyter_ipython_work.rst:13
msgid ""
"The IPython kernel that provides computation and communication with the "
"frontend interfaces, like the notebook"
msgstr ""
"The IPython kernel que fornece o cálculo e  a comunicação com as interfaces "
"de frontend como o notebook"
  1. A project maintainer reviews and merges the pull request.

  2. ReadTheDocs once again runs Sphinx to convert U.S. English source documents into HTML.

  3. ReadTheDocs also runs Sphinx to load localized .po files, substitute translations into the original English text, and convert those translated documents into HTML (e.g.,

Note: We recognize this flow assumes documentation starts life written in U.S. English. We should look into removing this assumption in the future if it becomes a significant barrier to new contributions.

Community translator workflows#

We are delighted when members of the Jupyter community want to help translate documentation. We use Transifex to on-board translators in a friendly web interface without requiring knowledge of git, GitHub, Sphinx, or other software developer tools.

Creating translations#

Getting Started as a Translator is an excellent on-boarding guide for new Transifex users. Follow the instructions to create an account. When prompted to join a team, look for jupyter-meta-documentation to start contributing translations to this documentation site. Alternatively, visit after creating your account and request to join the project. A project maintainer or language team coordinator will review and approve your request.

Reviewing translations#

Transifex supports Reviewing Translations, peer review by members of a language team, to ensure translation quality. Project maintainers can choose whether Transifex should immediately send a pull request when translations of all text in a document are available or delay submitting a pull request until after all of those translations are also reviewed (the current setting for this project).

Coordinating translation teams#

Project maintainers can also grant Transfex team members the role of language coordinator. Language coordinators have permission to invite users to language teams, approve or deny join requests, assign language team roles, and perform other administrative actions for a particular project language. Empowering trusted members of the community as coordinators can help grow translation teams without software developer involvement.

Administrator workflows#

The translation CI/CD workflow described above requires configuration in GitHub and in Transifex to function. Project maintainers can follow the instructions below to enable translations for their Sphinx documentation.

Creating a Transifex organization#

Transifex organizes translation projects under organizations that mirror organizations and repositories on GitHub. At present, only the organization has a corresponding org on Transifex ( with the following organization administrators:

  • @choldgraf

  • @parente

  • @willingc

GitHub users with permissions to install applications in a GitHub org can follow these instructions to create a new Transifex-GitHub organization link (e.g., for,

  1. Create a new user account at

  2. Complete the sign-up wizard.

  3. Create and name a new organization.

  4. Click the organization drop down in the top right of the Transifex dashboard page and select Organization Settings.

  5. Click Details in the left sidebar.

  6. Click inviting administrators in the Management section to add additional admins to the Transifex org.

  7. Click Manage integrations in the left sidebar.

  8. Click Install the Transifex app in the GitHub section.

  9. Select the GitHub organization to associate with the new Transifex organization.

  10. Select the repositories that Transifex will have permission to access.

  11. Return to the tab where you clicked Install the Transifex app and click authorize Transifex in the GitHub section.

  12. Choose the GitHub organization you just configured in the popup dialog.

Note that you can revise the GitHub-Transifex integration at any time by visiting

Creating a Transifex project#

Transifex organization administrators can follow the instructions below to configure new translation projects for GitHub projects in the GitHub org corresponding to the one on Transifex.

  1. Visit

  2. Sign in with the appropriate admin user account for the organization.

  3. Click the organization drop down in the top right of the Transifex dashboard page and select Organization Settings.

  4. Click Create new project in the lower left sidebar.

  5. Name the translation project after the project on GitHub.

  6. Select Public as the privacy type, indicate that the project is open source, and provide the GitHub URL for the repository.

  7. Select a file-based project.

  8. Create a new team for the project.

  9. Select English (en) as the source language.

  10. Select known target languages. (You can add these later as well.)

  11. Click Create project.

  12. Click Settings under the project name in the left sidebar.

  13. Click the Maintainers tab.

  14. Invite additional project maintainers, typically software developers who will be responsible for maintaining the continuous integration and bootstrapping language teams.

Configuring languages and teams#

Transifex organization admins and project managers can add translation languages to a project.

  1. Visit

  2. Sign in with the appropriate admin user account for the organization.

  3. Click Languages under the project name in the left sidebar.

  4. Click Edit languages.

  5. Add or remove target translation languages.

  6. Click Apply.

Organization admins, project maintainers, and team managers can add users to translation teams with the roles of language coordinator, reviewer, or translator.

  1. Click Teams in the top nav bar.

  2. Click the Invite Collaborators button in the top right.

  3. Enter the username, email address, or full name of a person to add to the project. Note that the autocomplete in this field does not always display a popup for the user you wish to invite. Confirm you’ve entered the correct value and move on.

  4. Select the role to assign to the user.

  5. If the role applies to a specific team, select the team.

  6. If the role applies to a specific language, select the language.

  7. Click Invite more to enter additional users or Send invitation.

Configuring Transifex-GitHub integration#

After configuring organization and project resources on Transifex, project developers can:

  • configure Sphinx to produce .po files for the source language and read .po files containing translations

  • configure Transifex to watch for source language .po file changes

  • configure the project CI service to update source language .po files when contributors make changes to the source documentation

The instructions in this section assume a git repository already contains Sphinx documentation in the following directory structure:

    build/              # built sphinx artifacts go here
    source/             # documentation source is in here           # sphinx config file
      index.rst         # root of the documentation
    requirements.txt    # sphinx, sphinx-intl, etc.

Project developers can do the following to configure Sphinx to seed source .po files and recognization translation .po files.

  1. Add sphinx-intl to your Sphinx project requirements.txt or environment.yaml if it does not already exist.

  2. Run sphinx-intl create-txconfig in the docs/ directory.

  3. Add the following to the Sphinx source/ file.

# -- Translation -------------------------------------------------------------

gettext_uuid = True
locale_dirs = ["locale/"]
  1. Run make gettext to extract all strings from the English source documentation.

  2. Run sphinx-intl update -l en to generate the English source .po files.

  3. Submit, review, and merge a pull request with the changes and generated .po files.

After merging the pull request, link to the Transifex project to the GitHub repository.

  1. Visit

  2. Click Settings under the project name in the left sidebar.

  3. Click the Integrations tab.

  4. Click Link Repository in the GitHub section.

  5. Select the appropriate GitHub repository and integration branch. Then click Next.

  6. Copy and paste the following configuration into the dialog, adjusting the commented values as appropriate, and then click Next.

  - filter_type: dir
    file_format: PO
    source_file_extension: po
    # Change this if you selected a different source language during project setup
    source_language: en
    # The path in the GitHub repository where the source .po files reside
    source_file_dir: "docs/source/locale/en/LC_MESSAGES"
    # The path in the GitHub repository where translation .po files reside
    translation_files_expression: "docs/source/locale/<lang>/LC_MESSAGES"
  1. Select when Transifex will submit translations a back to the repository. Then click Save & Sync.

  2. Click Close.

  3. Watch the sync status progress.

  4. Click Resources in the left sidebar.

  5. Click one of the .po files to see translation progress by language.

  6. Click one of the languages to see details about translation progress, translate text, and review translations. See the Translator workflows section above for details.

After confirming the initial English .po files have reached Transifex, set up continuous integration to ensure source strings are kept up-to-date in Transifex whenever the English documentation changes. The steps to accomplish this end vary depending on the CI provider. The following describes how what to do when using GitHub Actions.

  1. Create a new GitHub actions workflow file .github/workflows/gettext.yml in the project.

  2. Add the following content to the file. Note that secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN is a built-in secret, not something you need to configure ahead of time.

name: Extract Translatable Strings

# Run on all branch pushes
      - "docs/source/**"
      - "!docs/source/locale/**"
      - ".github/workflows/gettext.yml"

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - name: Checkout Code
        uses: actions/checkout@master
      - name: Set up Python
        uses: actions/setup-python@v2
          python-version: "3.x"
      - name: Install dependencies
        working-directory: docs
        run: pip install -r requirements.txt
      - name: Extract source strings
        working-directory: docs
        run: |
          make gettext
          sphinx-intl update -l en
      - name: Push to master
        # Only commit changes to master if master just changed
        if: github.ref == 'refs/heads/master'
        uses: mikeal/publish-to-github-action@master
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
  1. Submit, review, and merge a pull request containing the workflow YAML.

Once you complete the steps in this section, any changes to the source English documentation on the master branch are pulled into Transifex for translation. Likewise, any translations completed on Transifex are submitted as pull requests back to the project on GitHub.

Hosting translations on ReadTheDocs#

ReadTheDocs supports building HTML documentation sites from a single GitHub project and its translations. Administrators of the source language documentation project on ReadTheDocs can following these instructions to enable builds for other languages.

  1. Visit

  2. Note the name of existing ReadTheDocs project containing your source language (e.g., jupyter).

  3. Click Import a Project.

  4. Click Import Manually.

  5. Enter the project name you noted above suffixed with a target language locale (e.g., jupyter-es, jupyter-pt-br).

  6. Enter the GitHub URL of the project.

  7. Check Edit advanced project options.

  8. Click Next.

  9. Select the name of the target language from the Language drop down (e.g. es -> Spanish, es-mx -> Mexican Spanish, pt-br -> Brazillian Portuguese).

  10. Click Finish.

  11. Return to the list of projects at

  12. Click the project containing the source language.

  13. Click Admin.

  14. Click Translations.

  15. Choose the name of the translation project created in step 5 from the Project drop down.

  16. Click Add.

  17. Repeat these steps for all other languages the project supports.

Now, any time you merge a pull request from Transifex containing .po translation file updates, ReadTheDocs will build both the source documentation site as well as sites for all supported languages. ReadTheDocs will associate the sites with one another and make them accessible via language links in a popup.

Project Jupyter documentation site with the ReadTheDocs popup open on the right, showing links to the documentation in other languages.

Reference# is a mini-project configured to support the entire workflow described in this document.