Categories: Planet Tools

Making a change with Pootle

tl;dr: As of 1 September 2017, Mozilla’s Pootle instance ( will be turned off. Between now and then, l10n-drivers will be assisting l10n communities using Pootle in moving all projects over to Pontoon. Pootle’s positive impact in Mozilla’s continued l10n evolution is undeniable and we thank them for all of their contributions throughout the years.

Mozilla’s localization story has evolved over time. While our mission to improve linguistic accessibility on the Web and in the browser space hasn’t changed, the process and tools that help us to accomplish this have changed over the years. Some of us can remember when a Mozilla localizer needed to be skilled in version control systems, Unix commands, text editors, and Bugzilla in order to make an impactful contribution to l10n. Over time (and in many ways thanks to Pootle), it became clear that the technical barrier to entry was actually preventing us from achieving our mission. Beginning with Pootle (Verbatim) and Narro, we set out to lower that barrier through web-based, open source translation management systems. These removed many of the technical requirements on localizers, which in turn led to us being able to ship Firefox in languages that other browsers either couldn’t or simply wouldn’t ship; making Firefox the most localized browser on the market! Thanks to Pootle, we’ve learned that optimizing l10n impact through these tools is critical to our ability to change and adapt to new,  faster development processes taking the Internet and software industries by storm. We created Pontoon to take things further and focus on in-context localization. The demand for that tool became so great that we ended up adding more and more projects to it. Today I’m announcing the next step in our evolution: as of 1 September 2017, all Mozilla l10n communities using Pootle will be migrated to Pontoon and the Mozilla Pootle instance ( will be turned off.


Over the years, we’ve developed a fond relationship with Translate House (the organization behind Pootle), as have many members of the Mozilla l10n community. Nearly five years ago, we entered into a contract agreement with the Translate House team to keep a Mozilla instance of Pootle running, to develop custom features for that instance, and to mentor l10n communities. As l10n has shifted through the Mozilla organization year after year, the l10n team recently found themselves as part of another internal reorganization, right at the moment in which contract renewal was up for discussion. With that reorganization, came new priorities for l10n and a change in budget for the coming year. In the face of those changes, we were unable to renew our contract with Translate House.

What now?

Before 1 September, the l10n-drivers will be proactively contacting l10n communities using Pootle in order to perform project migrations into Pontoon. Moving project-to-project, we’ll start with the locales that we’re currently shipping for a project, then move to those which are in pre-release, and finally those that have seen activity in the last three months. In the process, we’ll look out for any technical unknown unknowns that Pontoon engineers can address to make the transition a positive and seamless one.

There are a few things you can do to make the transition run smoothly:

  1. Log into Pontoon with your Firefox Account. If you don’t already have a Firefox account, please create one.
  2. Process all pending suggestions in your Pootle projects (i.e., bring your community’s suggestion queue down to 0).
  3. Flag issues with Pontoon to the l10n-drivers so that we can triage them and address them in a timely manner. To do this, please file a bug here, or reach out to the l10n-drivers if you’re not yet comfortable with Bugzilla.

We understand that this is a major change to those contributing to Mozilla through Pootle right now. We know that changing tools will make you less productive for a while. We’ll be holding a public community video call to address concerns, frustrations, and questions face-to-face on Thursday, 27 July at 19:00 UTC. You’re all invited to attend. If you can’t attend due to time zones, we’ll record it and publish it on You can submit questions for the call beforehand on this etherpad doc and we’ll talk about them on the call. We’ve also created this FAQ to help answer any outstanding questions. We’ll be adding the questions and answers from the call to this document as well.

Finally, I would like to personally extend my thanks to Translate House. Their impact on open source localization is unmatched and I’ve truly enjoyed the relationships we’ve built with that team. We wish them all the best in their future direction and hope to have opportunities to collaborate and stand together in support of open localization in the future.

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