Zoran Luledzija
Zoran Luledzija
March 01, 2024
5 min read
March 01, 2024
5 min read

How to translate ARB files efficiently

How to translate ARB files efficiently

Facing difficulties in translating ARB files? This guide is designed to offer assistance. In this blog post, we will delve into two prevalent strategies for translating ARB files. We will also highlight common pitfalls to avoid and share tips to make your translation process smoother and more efficient.

Understanding ARB files

Before delving into the intricacies of translating ARB (Application Resource Bundle) files and sharing valuable tips and best practices, it's essential to first understand what ARB files are and why their translation plays an important role in the development of multilingual applications.

ARB is a localization file format, specifically designed to hold localization messages. Using it, it is possible to separate an app's text translations from the app's source code, making the app's maintenance easier and more efficient throughout its lifespan. Furthermore, adding new languages to the application at any later point is straightforward and requires only minimal modifications to the code and the translation of the app's text for those new languages.

Understanding ARB files

ARB files employ a unique structure for storing localization messages, quite similar to JSON files, but with specific rules tailored for localization purposes. At their core, ARB files are composed of translation blocks, each consisting of a localization message and metadata relevant to that message. While the structure of ARB files is consistent, minor variations may occur based on the localization library, framework, or tool being used. These variations are minimal and infrequent, typically involving distinctions in which data are considered optional and which are mandatory.

Info: Learn more about Flutter ARB file format.

Different approaches for translating ARB files

Translating ARB files can be approached in two primary ways. The first method involves using any text editor that is compatible with text-based formats, such as Notepad or Notepad++. The second method utilizes specialized tools explicitly developed for translation files.

The key difference between these approaches lies in the functionalities they offer for translating ARB files. Text editors are appreciated for their flexibility and their ability to support various file formats. However, due to their general-purpose design, text editors lack customization for specific file types or translation tasks. When employing text editors for ARB file translation, it's crucial to have a thorough understanding of the file structure. Equally important is the need to accurately identify the sections that require translation, a process that demands a significant level of technical expertise. In contrast, specialized translation tools are designed specifically for these tasks. They aid in avoiding errors by directing you to the exact parts of the file that need translation and provide features like screenshot integration, translation memory, and glossary management. These advanced capabilities enhance efficiency and ensure translations are precise and of high quality.

Tired of manually editing translation files?

Boost your productivity with the right localization tool.

Common mistakes in ARB file translation

This section delves into the frequent pitfalls encountered during the translation of ARB files:

  • Invalid file syntax: ARB files feature a distinctive structure, posing hurdles especially for those not versed in technical aspects, such as translators. Typical syntax errors include the omission of quotes, curly braces, and inaccuracies in essential keywords specific to the ARB file format.
  • Invalid placeholders: The translation of placeholders may trigger application malfunctions. It's imperative to distinguish between the text that requires translation and the text that must remain unaltered.
  • Handling plural forms incorrectly: Different languages have different rules for pluralization. Mistakes in applying the wrong plural forms in translations can result in inaccuracies within the application.

The adoption of specialized tools for translating ARB files not only facilitates the generation of these files but also minimizes the risk of common translation errors. Implementing such tools is a proactive step towards eliminating the errors described above.

Automating the translation of ARB files

Automating the translation of ARB files can significantly enhance efficiency, a vital consideration in today's fast-evolving technological environment. Here, we discuss strategies to expedite and automate the translation process using specialized localization tools.

Streamlining translation tasks through collaboration

Localization platforms facilitate project collaboration, enabling the creation of a localization project, invitation of team members (including managers, developers, and translators), and assignment of translation tasks. This approach allows you to focus on other critical aspects of your product while translators work efficiently. Moreover, these tools help avoid common errors associated with manual translation file edits, thereby speeding up the development cycle.

An example of an assigned translation task in Localizely is provided below.

Localizely - Delegating translation tasks

Enhancing efficiency with Machine Translation

Localization tools now integrate Machine Translation, offering rapid translation of ARB files, often within seconds. Employing Machine Translation followed by a post-translation review ensures ARB files are quickly prepared for use.

An example of Machine Translation usage in Localizely is shown below.

Localizely - Utilizing Machine Translation

Opting for professional translation services

For those seeking professional translation services, placing translation orders is an excellent choice. This method allows for the specification of texts for translation, target languages, and preferred tones (e.g., formal or friendly). Skilled professionals can then be tasked with completing these translations within a predetermined timeline.

An example of placing a translation order on Localizely is illustrated below.

Localizely - Placing translation orders

These enhancements not only clarify the procedures involved in automating ARB file translations but also emphasize the importance of utilizing modern tools to improve translation quality and efficiency.


In this post, we provided a concise overview of how ARB files can be translated. Furthermore, we explored two prevalent strategies for handling these files and presented techniques that can greatly enhance the efficiency of the translation process through the use of dedicated localization tools.

Localizely stands out as a comprehensive localization platform that streamlines the translation of ARB files. It boasts a wide range of features specifically tailored to ease the tasks associated with software localization. Additionally, Localizely offers a free plan that does not require a credit card, making it an excellent choice for smaller-scale projects. Moreover, it is entirely free for open-source projects.

Try Localizely for free.

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Zoran Luledzija
Zoran Luledzija

Zoran is a Software Engineer at Localizely. His primary interest is web development, but he also has a solid background in other technologies. For the last few years, he has been involved in the development of software localization tools.

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