How to Use oslo.i18n in Your Application or Library

How to Use oslo.i18n in Your Application or Library


At the command line:

$ pip install oslo.i18n

Creating an Integration Module

To use oslo.i18n in a project (e.g. myapp), you will need to create a small integration module to hold an instance of TranslatorFactory and references to the marker functions the factory creates.


Libraries probably do not want to expose the new integration module as part of their public API, so rather than naming it myapp.i18n it should be called myapp._i18n to indicate that it is a private implementation detail, and not meant to be used outside of the library’s own code.


Starting with the Pike series, OpenStack no longer supports log translation. It is not necessary to add translation instructions to new code, and the instructions can be removed from old code. Refer to the email thread understanding log domain change on the openstack-dev mailing list for more details.

# myapp/

import oslo_i18n

DOMAIN = "myapp"

_translators = oslo_i18n.TranslatorFactory(domain=DOMAIN)

# The primary translation function using the well-known name "_"
_ = _translators.primary

# The contextual translation function using the name "_C"
# requires oslo.i18n >=2.1.0
_C = _translators.contextual_form

# The plural translation function using the name "_P"
# requires oslo.i18n >=2.1.0
_P = _translators.plural_form

# Translators for log levels.
# NOTE(dhellmann): This is not needed for new projects as of the
# Pike series.
# The abbreviated names are meant to reflect the usual use of a short
# name like '_'. The "L" is for "log" and the other letter comes from
# the level.
_LI = _translators.log_info
_LW = _translators.log_warning
_LE = _translators.log_error
_LC = _translators.log_critical

def get_available_languages():
    return oslo_i18n.get_available_languages(DOMAIN)

Then, in the rest of your code, use the appropriate marker function for each message:

from myapp._i18n import _, _LW, _LE

# ...

variable = "openstack"
LOG.warning(_LW('warning message: %s'), variable)

# ...


    # ...

except AnException1:

    # Log only
    LOG.exception(_LE('exception message'))

except AnException2:

    # Raise only
    raise RuntimeError(_('exception message'))


    # Log and Raise
    msg = _('Unexpected error message')
    raise RuntimeError(msg)


The import of multiple modules from _i18n on a single line is a valid exception to OpenStack Style Guidelines for import statements.

It is important to use the marker functions (e.g. _LI), rather than the longer form of the name, because the tool that scans the source code for translatable strings looks for the marker function names.


The old method of installing a version of _() in the builtins namespace is deprecated. Modifying the global namespace affects libraries as well as the application, so it may interfere with proper message catalog lookups. Calls to gettextutils.install() should be replaced with the application or library integration module described here.

Handling hacking Objections to Imports

The OpenStack Style Guidelines prefer importing modules and accessing names from those modules after import, rather than importing the names directly. For example:

from foo import bar



import foo

The linting tool hacking will typically complain about importing names from within modules. It is acceptable to bypass this for the translation marker functions, because they must have specific names and their use pattern is dictated by the message catalog extraction tools rather than our style guidelines. To bypass the hacking check for imports from this integration module, add an import exception to tox.ini.

For example:

# tox.ini
import_exceptions = myapp._i18n

Lazy Translation

Lazy translation delays converting a message string to the translated form as long as possible, including possibly never if the message is not logged or delivered to the user in some other way. It also supports logging translated messages in multiple languages, by configuring separate log handlers.

Lazy translation is implemented by returning a special object from the translation function, instead of a unicode string. That special message object supports some, but not all, string manipulation APIs. For example, concatenation with addition is not supported, but interpolation of variables is supported. Depending on how translated strings are used in an application, these restrictions may mean that lazy translation cannot be used, and so it is not enabled by default.

To enable lazy translation, call enable_lazy().

import oslo_i18n


Translating Messages

Use translate() to translate strings to a specific locale. translate() handles delayed translation and strings that have already been translated immediately. It should be used at the point where the locale to be used is known, which is often just prior to the message being returned or a log message being emitted.

import oslo_i18n

trans_msg = oslo_i18n.translate(msg, my_locale)

If a locale is not specified the default locale is used.

Available Languages

Only the languages that have translations provided are available for translation. To determine which languages are available the get_available_languages() is provided. The integration module provides a domain defined specific function.

import myapp._i18n

languages = myapp._i18n.get_available_languages()

Displaying translated messages

Several preparations are required to display translated messages in your running application.

Preferred language

You need to specify your preferred language through an environment variable. The preferred language can be specified by LANGUAGE, LC_ALL, LC_MESSAGES, or LANGUAGE (A former one has a priority).

oslo_i18n.translate() can be used to translate a string to override the preferred language.


You need to use enable_lazy() to override the preferred language by using oslo_i18n.translate().

Locale directory

Python gettext looks for binary mo files for the given domain using the path <localedir>/<language>/LC_MESSAGES/<domain>.mo. The default locale directory varies on distributions, and it is /usr/share/locale in most cases.

If you store message catalogs in a different location, you need to specify the location via an environment variable named <DOMAIN>_LOCALEDIR where <DOMAIN> is an upper-case domain name with replacing _ and . with -. For example, NEUTRON_LOCALEDIR for a domain neutron and OSLO_I18N_LOCALEDIR for a domain oslo_i18n.


When you specify locale directories via <DOMAIN>_LOCALEDIR environment variables, you need to specify an environment variable per domain. More concretely, if your application using a domain myapp` uses oslo.policy, you need to specify both ``MYAPP_LOCALEDIR and OSLO_POLICY_LOCALEDIR to ensure that translation messages from both your application and oslo.policy are displayed.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Except where otherwise noted, this document is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. See all OpenStack Legal Documents.