Reclassify Icon= in .desktop files as string, not localestring

Will Thompson wjt at
Mon Jun 24 22:05:32 UTC 2019


Currently, Icon= and similar fields in .desktop files are defined to be
"localestring", and are extracted for translation by tools like xgettext. I
propose to redefine them to "string" and stop
xgettext extracting them.

I did some cursory archaeology and the only discussion I can find around
icons being translatable is this message and its
descendents. The argument given there is:

I think Icon is intentionally a localestring - you might imagine an icon
> having some text or a cultural reference. I don't think it would be a good
> idea to have an icon like that and I haven't seen a localized Icon key in
> practice but ...

I agree with everything here – technically, it's correct to make them
localizable, even if I have never noticed a localised icon. (That said,
English is my first and only language, and I live in the UK…)

On the other hand, I have seen translators trying hard to translate icon
names, which are often strange collections of kebab-case-words or
com.example.reverse_domain.Words. I've seen many comments of the form
"# TRANSLATORS: please do not translate this".

Is there widespread use of localized icons that I'm not aware of? If so,
perhaps the right path is to add a flag to xgettext to opt in (or opt out)
of this behaviour; this might not be an easy sell since the specification
is clear that these are localestrings. If not, could we consider this a
case where the practical cost (in the form of wasted work for translators)
outweighs the conceptual upside, and change the spec (and implementation)?


– Will
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