What is XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format)

XLIFF is an XML-based format created to standardize the way localizable data are passed between tools during a localization process and a common format for CAT tool exchange.

XLIFF is the industry-standard bilingual file format. It is supported by several CAT tools. Many CAT tools make use of an intermediate bilingual file format, i.e. a file containing both source and target language segments, and in some cases also the structure of the original file.

XLIFF is a format that's used to exchange localisation data between participants in a translation project. This special format enables translators to concentrate on the text to be translated, without worrying about text layout. The XLIFF standard is supported by a large group of localisation service providers and localisation tools providers.

The most important reason for you to use XLIFF when translating documents is that you can use a single file format when translating different kinds of documents.

Benefit of using Xliff

- No overhead for translators to buy and lern properietry software.
- Some formats are exceedingly difficult to translate in their native format.
Steps to follow in a localisation project:
  1. Extract all translatable text from the original documents.
  2. Store the extracted strings in a XLIFF document.
  3. Send out the XLIFF document for translation.
  4. Extract the translated strings from the XLIFF document and reinsert them into the original documents. 

The process can now be reformulated with more detail as follows:
  1. Text extraction: Separation of translatable text from layout data.
  2. Pre-translation: Addition of existing translation to the XLIFF file generated in the previous step.
  3. Translation: Performed by a professional translator.
  4. Reverse conversion: Generation of a translated document from the translated XLIFF file.
  5. Translation memory improvement: Storage of new translations in a translation memory (TM) database for later reuse.
One of the advantages of XLIFF is its relative simplicity. An XLIFF file can be described as a collection of translation units. Each translation unit contains a sentence or paragraph that's extracted from the original document in an element called , and the translator has to fill a element with the appropriate translation.
Sample of XLIFF file

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