Internationalization, often referred as i18n is very much important feature of any business application in today’s globalized economy.

The Axelor Development Kit provide very efficient way to make you application multilingual.


Unlike the standard Java practice to provide translations catalogs with properties files, the translations are stored in CSV files per language bases. This is because, Axelor Development Kit stores and loads translations from database to allow live update of translations by end-users.

The structure of the translation files in an axelor module looks like this:


The messages.csv is the template from which we have to create language specific messages_<language>.csv files. The template should not be updated manually as it’s automatically generated using the string extraction utility.

The following gradle task can be used to extract and update message files:

$ ./gradlew i18n [--with-context]

The CSV files now has four columns:

  • key - the original string

  • message - the translated string

  • comment - some comments for/by language translator

  • context - a list of files names with line numbers where the text can be found

The context column is populated only if --with-context option is used.

The translation messages are imported in database during the db initialization. The corresponding database table only stores key and message.

The key is original text extracted from the java, groovy or xml files. In case of fields where title is not given, the field name is automatically converted to human readable form.

<entity name="Contact">
  <string name="fullName" help="true" />

In this case, as there is no title given, a human readable text Full name is generated and used as key. Also the help="true" is used to automatically generate key for help attribute. The format of auto generate help key is help:<entity>.<field> so in this case a key help:Contact.fullName is generated.

The context is a list of file name + line number where the key is found:


It means the key is found in those files on the given line. This allows translators to locate the text and understand the context to provide correct translation or suggest changes in case of conflicting meanings. In that case we can choose to use some logical non-human readable keys and provide readable text from the translation.

Because of the context column begin multiline values, it’s difficult to edit the csv files in plain text editors. So always prefer editing with some spreadsheet editors (excel or libreoffice).


The string values from xml sources doesn’t require any special treatments but translatable strings in you code, they must be wrapped with a special method I18n.get(…​).

The I18n is defined under com.axelor.i18n package and provides static methods to get translations and custom ResourceBundle which can be used with standard java translation API.

// get the translation for the given text
I18n.get("Full name");

// get the translation for the given key

// get singular or plural translation based on the given number
I18n.get("{0} record selected.", "{0} records selected.", selected.size());

The I18n.get only works when JPA context is started as the translation is loaded from the database table (which is imported from the csv files during database initialization).

So the I18n.get should not be called if the code is executed before the JPA context is initialized (like static variables).

Value Translation

Value translation feature allows us to translate record values.

<entity name="Product">
  <string name="name" translatable="true" /> (1)
1 the field is marked as translatable

The value translations are stored with key in value:<value> format. For example, value:Laptop or value:Hard Disk etc.

The field values can be translated by clicking on a flag icon visile on that field:

translation icon
Figure 1. Translate icon

The translation dialog looks like this:

translation dialog
Figure 2. Translation dialog