UI Translation🔗

Help with translating the web-ui is greatly appreciated. I can only provide translations for English and German, and these may be wrong - so pointing out mistakes is also appreciated :).

Here is a detailed walkthrough for adding a new language. It requires to code in Elm. But even if you're not a programmer, you will be comfortable as it's not difficult for this task. Elm is also a nice and friendly language, provding helpful error messages.

This guide assumes no knowledge about Elm at all.


If you are already familiar with Elm, here is the TL;DR:

  1. Goto Messages.UiLanguage in modules/webapp/src/main/elm and add another language to the union type and also to the all list.
  2. Fix all compile errors by providing a different Texts value for the new language.


You need to install git, sbt, Elm and nodejs (for the npm command) to compile and run the project.

It is also recommended to install elm-format as it will help you to format the elm source code. Look here for how to install it with your editor of choice.

Checkout the source code🔗

Note: These steps are only required to do once. If you come back to translating, just start the application.

Use git to clone the docspell repository to your machine. In a terminal type:

 git clone https://github.com/eikek/docspell.git
Cloning into 'docspell'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 1861, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (1861/1861), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (861/861), done.
remote: Total 30276 (delta 821), reused 1604 (delta 668), pack-reused 28415
Receiving objects: 100% (30276/30276), 60.89 MiB | 23.62 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (14658/14658), done.

/tmp took 4s

This creates a new directory docspell. Change into it, create a DOCSPELL_ENV environment variable and run sbt:

 cd docspell
docspell on  master via 🌳 v0.19.1 via ☕ v11.0.9 via ⬢ v12.21.0
 export DOCSPELL_ENV=dev
[info] welcome to sbt 1.5.0 (Oracle Corporation Java 1.8.0_212)
[info] loading settings for project global-plugins from plugins.sbt ...
[info] loading settings for project docspell-build from plugins.sbt ...
[info] loading project definition from /tmp/docspell/project
[info] compiling 6 Scala sources to /tmp/docspell/project/target/scala-2.12/sbt-1.0/classes ...
[info] loading settings for project root from build.sbt,version.sbt ...
[info] resolving key references (24191 settings) ...
[info] set current project to docspell-root (in build file:/tmp/docspell/)
[info] sbt server started at local:///home/eike/.sbt/1.0/server/3cf61b9ad9af43ee6032/sock
[info] started sbt server

This downloads some stuff and puts you in the sbt shell. Now compile everything (only needed the first time after checkout):

sbt:docspell-root> make

This will take a while, you need to wait until this is finished.

Start the application🔗

If sbt is not started, start sbt from within the source root. Also export the DOCSPELL_ENV variable before starting sbt:

> export DOCSPELL_ENV=dev
> sbt

Then start the application:

sbt:docspell-root> reStart

This starts docspell (joex and the restserver). Once the output gets a bit quiter, open a browser and navigate to http://localhost:7880. You can create a new account (if not already done so) and login.

Note that the database is created in your /tmp directory, so it might be cleared once you restart your machine. For translating this should not be a problem.

Make webui updates faster🔗

The sbt build tool could be used to watch the elm sources and re-compile everything on change. This however also restarts the server and takes quite long. When only coding on the webui the server can be just left as is. Only the new compiled webapp must be made available to the running server. For this, a script is provided in the project/ folder.

Now open two more terminals and cd into the docspell folder as before and run the following in one:

 ./project/dev-ui-build.sh watch-js
Compile elm to js …

    Main ───> /tmp/docspell/modules/webapp/target/scala-2.13/classes/META-INF/resources/webjars/docspell-webapp/0.22.0-SNAPSHOT/docspell-app.js

Watching elm sources. C-c to quit.
Setting up watches.  Beware: since -r was given, this may take a while!
Watches established.

And in the other run this:

 ./project/dev-ui-build.sh watch-css
Watching css …

Once you have this, you're all set. The docspell application is running and changes to elm and css files are detected, the webapp is compiled and the resulting javascript and css file is copied to the correct location. To see your changes, a refresh in the browser is necessary.

If this script is not working, install inotify-tools. The inotifywait command is required.

You'll notice that compiling elm and css is very fast.

Find the webapp sources🔗

The web-ui is implemented in the webapp module. The sources can be found in the folder modules/webapp/src/main/elm.

All translated strings are in the files below Messages directory. You should start with the file UiLanguage.elm to add a new language to the list. Then start with App.elm to provide transalations. See below for details.

Example: Add German🔗

Add the new language🔗

Start by editing UiLanguage.elm and add another language to the list:

type UiLanguage
    = English
    | German

More languaes are simply appended using the | symbol. Use the English name here, because this is source code.

Also add it to the list of all languages below. Simply add the new language separated by a comma ,.

all : List UiLanguage
all =
    [ English
    , German

If you make a mistake, the elm compiler will tell you with usually quite helpful messages. Now, after adding this, there will be errors when compiling the elm files. You should see something like this:

Detected problems in 1 module.
-- MISSING PATTERNS ------------------- modules/webapp/src/main/elm/Messages.elm

This `case` does not have branches for all possibilities:

45|>    case lang of
46|>        English ->
47|>            gb

Missing possibilities include:


I would have to crash if I saw one of those. Add branches for them!

Hint: If you want to write the code for each branch later, use `Debug.todo` as a
placeholder. Read <https://elm-lang.org/0.19.1/missing-patterns> for more
guidance on this workflow.

So around line 45 in Messages.elm there is something wrong. This is the place where a record of all strings is returned given some lanugage. Currently, there is only one set of strings for English. Open this file, you see at the and a value of name gb for English. Copy it to another name, de for this example (it's good practice to stick to the two letter country code).

de : Messages
de =
    { lang = German
    , iso2 = "de"
    , label = "Deutsch"
    , flagIcon = "flag-icon flag-icon-de"
    , app = Messages.App.gb
    , collectiveSettings = Messages.Page.CollectiveSettings.gb
    , login = Messages.Page.Login.gb
    , register = Messages.Page.Register.gb
    , newInvite = Messages.Page.NewInvite.gb
    , upload = Messages.Page.Upload.gb
    , itemDetail = Messages.Page.ItemDetail.gb
    , queue = Messages.Page.Queue.gb
    , userSettings = Messages.Page.UserSettings.gb
    , manageData = Messages.Page.ManageData.gb
    , search = Messages.Page.Search.gb

Change lang, iso2, label and flagIcon appropriately. For the label use the native language name (not English), as this is the label shown to users when selecting a language. The flag icon can be copied and only the last two letters need to be changed to the country code. You may look here for additional information.

Now the error can be fixed. Go to line 45 and add another branch to the case expression:

get : UiLanguage -> Messages
get lang =
    case lang of
        English ->

        German ->

This makes the compiler happy again. If you refresh the browser, you should see the new language in the dropdown menu. You can already choose the new language, but nothing happens in the application. Of course, we just copied the English strings for now. So now begins the translation process.


Now translation can begin. If you look at the newly created value de, you'll see some entries in the record. Each corresponds to a page: login is for the login page, home for the "home page" etc; and app is for the top menu.

Take one of them and start translating. For the example, I use the first one which is Messages.App. The file to this is Messages/App.em. You can always replace the dots with slashes to find a file to an elm module. Open this file and you'll see again a gb value at the end. Copy it to de and start translating:

de : Texts
de =
    { collectiveProfile = "Kollektiv-Profil"
    , userProfile = "Benutzer-Profil"
    , lightDark = "Hell/Dunkel"
    , logout = "Abmelden"
    , items = "Dokumente"
    , manageData = "Daten verwalten"
    , uploadFiles = "Dateien hochladen"
    , processingQueue = "Verarbeitung"
    , newInvites = "Neue Einladung"
    , help = "Hilfe (English)"

Then go to the beginning of the file and add the new de value to the list of "exposed" values. This is necessary so it can be used from within the Messages.elm module.

module Messages.App exposing
    ( Texts
    , de {- the new value -}
    , gb

Now you can go back to Messages.elm and exchange Messages.App.gb with Messages.App.de.

de : Messages
de =
    { lang = German
    , iso2 = "de"
    , label = "Deutsch"
    , flagIcon = "flag-icon flag-icon-de"
    , app = Messages.App.de
    , collectiveSettings = Messages.Page.CollectiveSettings.gb
    , login = Messages.Page.Login.gb
    , register = Messages.Page.Register.gb
    , newInvite = Messages.Page.NewInvite.gb
    , upload = Messages.Page.Upload.gb
    , itemDetail = Messages.Page.ItemDetail.gb
    , queue = Messages.Page.Queue.gb
    , userSettings = Messages.Page.UserSettings.gb
    , manageData = Messages.Page.ManageData.gb
    , search = Messages.Page.Search.gb

If you refresh the browser, you should now see the new values. Then take the next entry and start over. It happens that some files contain other string-sets of certain components. Then just follow this guide recursively.


You can publish your work to this repo in various ways:

Github PR🔗

This is the preferred way, because it means less work for me :). If you have a github account, you can create a pull request. Here is a quick walk-through. There is a thorough help at github.

  1. Fork this repository in the github webapp
  2. Go to the docspell source root you checked out in the terminal. Run:
    git remote rename origin upstream
    git remote add origin git@github.com:<your-github-name>/docspell.git
    git fetch --all
  3. Create a new git branch:
    git checkout -b translate origin/master
  4. Make a commit of your changes:
    git config user.name "Your Name"
    git config user.email "Your Email" #(note that this email will be publicly viewable! a dummy address is fine, too)
    git commit -am 'Add translation for German'
    Modify the message to your needs.
  5. Push the change to your fork:
    git push origin translate
  6. Go to the github webapp and create a pull request from your branch.


You can send me the patch via e-mail. You can use git send-email or your favorite e-mail client. For this do step 4 from above and then:

git bundle create translation.bundle origin/master..HEAD

Then send the created translate.bundle file. If this command doesn't work, try:

git format-patch origin/master..HEAD

This results in one or more 0001-… files that you can send.

Any other🔗

Contact me by mail or create an issue.