Discussion for Bilara users

Hey y’all, welcome to our new thread specially for translators and other using Bilara, our Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) software. Bilara means “cat” in Pali!

If you’re not using Bilara, best post somewhere else.

If you want to learn about Bilara, or you’re interested in starting translation, message @sujato and @carmi and we’ll set you up.


Still does in Gujarati after all this time! The only change is that the “r” has been replaced with a “d”. Bilada in Gujarati is plural for male cat.



First steps

The first step for translating Early Buddhist Texts in Bilara is to discuss your project with Bhante Sujato. Please message Bhante @sujato directly.

If you’d like to translate SuttaCentral’s website files to your language, that’s also done in Bilara. Let Bhante know and we’ll set up a website project for you.

Before getting started in Bilara please review the Guide for translators and let us know if you have any questions.

Project set up

Once you’ve discussed your project with Bhante, send me a message (@carmi) with your:

  1. GitHub username
  2. Full name
  3. Project type (e.g. a whole sutta project, a Nikāya such as sutta/dn, or a SuttaCentral website project)
  4. The language you will be translating to.


Ayya @sabbamitta is a Bilara power user and will often be the first to respond to questions :star_struck: :pray:

At the moment the Bilara community has over 25 translators :slight_smile: :pray: Translation languages include Burmese, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, English, Finnish, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Let us know if your language is missing or if you’d like to contribute to one of the languages listed. There’s always an opportunity to help in some way!

Ready to publish

The Guide for translators outlines the publication process. It’s ok to publish one text at a time, whatever works best for you. The publication process can take up to a week. This is because there are a few manual steps behind the scene. Bhante and I will check the files that come through via GitHub before sending them to the queue to be published on the SuttaCentral website. If you are publishing EBTs I will get in touch with you for your publication details.

Once your translation is published you can keep working on it in Bilara as long as you wish. Many translators do this, publishing updates over time.

The Bilara community is here to help so please reach out! :slight_smile: :pray:


In the Guide for Translators it is written:
“It is recommended translators request peer review of their translations. The SuttaCentral community can assist.”

How does it actually work? Who does peer reviewing?


There isn’t a team of peer reviewers so far. But you can post a request for peer review in your language here, or perhaps better, make a separate post with the request in the title so that it is more visible.

There is work underway to facilitate peer review in Bilara itself in a way that a proof reader can make a suggestion to a specific segment, and the translator can either accept or discard or modify it. But that’s not ready yet.

For myself, I have a few people who have made some helpful suggestions to a few Suttas they have read, but no-one has the time to read the entire scope of what I am translating, as it seems. Also, my translations are still very dynamic, with lots of edits happening all the time, so maybe the question will be for a later stage for me.


Thank you. :pray:

Since I just started translating Digha Nikaya in Bilara, I think I still have some way to go until peer reviewing. And in the meantime the system will hopefully be set to facilitate that.


Hello fellow translators :smiley: ,

I have been translating here on Bilara most days for the past 4 months or so and have come close to finishing translating DN 34 in addition to AN 4.1-30 (into English) though none of my translations have yet been proofed or published. Having done these translations to get myself familiar with Bilara, I am now somewhat looking for a new translation project.

Though I would love to one day help translate aṭṭhakathā or other as-yet-untranslated texts into English, I understand that translating aṭṭhakathā is not yet fully supported on Bilara. In the meantime, I might be curious if anyone here has a Pali translation project (supported by Bilara) they are working on which could use another translator. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to take on any/every project, but I am curious what others are working on.

I am a native English speaking, 12-vassa bhikkhu, studying Sanskrit and Pali at Dharma Realm Buddhist University and I love EBTs :slight_smile: .

Very grateful for all @Sujato and @carmi help here and that Bilara exists!


Hello @carmi @sabbamitta and friends,

I am not sure if this is the appropriate place where to post about this…

I am trying to access the comments I wrote for my Therigatha translation in English (and Italian), but they are no where to be found (I can see @sabbamitta’s comments in German though, as well as @sujato’s in English).

Thank you in advance for your help!


I can see them in the bilara-data repository (in the unpublished branch):

It’s possible that you can’t see them in Bilara itself, which is a problem of styling. The number of translators and translation projects has increased quite a bit lately, so pretty much any screen is too small to show all column choices for selection (and you can’t scroll the list).

Bhante @sujato is working on that—Bhante, is there an update?


The idea is that we can leverage SC’s community here on the forum and elsewhere to find support for translators. As Sabbamitta pointed out, support for proofing is a long-standing desideratum in Bilara, but is not yet working. Blake is on it though!

When the technical side is fixed, I’d propose that we start to look into this more formally. We definitely should have a peer-review process to ensure quality.


Thanks so much! When proofing is ready, I’ll need help proofing the 7 books of KN. When I completed the 4 nikayas, I had an excellent team of 4 proofreaders, but that was on our old translation software, which did support proofing.

I’ll let you know when we’re ready to start.

What about other texts in the canon? There are still plenty to be considered in KN and Abhidhamma?

Sorry, been distracted by the publications project. My local install of Bilara is buggy, I’ll get Blake to help me fix it then it should be an easy fix.


Thank you, Bhante! Looking forward to the update.
Can we also do a local install of Bilara on our computer? :smile:
That would make life so much easier and avoid internet-related distractions while translating :sweat_smile: :face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth:


I have a question regarding Markdown (or Nilakkhana) code in “site” texts:

In Bhikkhu Bodhi’s essay on the AN, segment 132, I see two sorts of code for italic font:

In many suttas, the Buddha employs a template involving three standpoints designed to induce the sense of urgency. These three standpoints are gratification (_assāda_), danger (_ādīnava_), and escape (_nissaraṇa_). 
We begin with what is immediately obvious: that our experience in the world provides some degree of *gratification* or enjoyment, which consists in the pleasure and joy that arise when we fulfill our desires. …

There is for example _assāda_, and there is *gratification*.

What is the intention behind these? Is it just that one is meant for Pali words, and the other for English (or translation language, respectively)?

Bhante @sujato :pray:

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No. It’s a web service. Try mindfulness and restraint instead. I hear it can be great! :pray:

That’s correct. In normal markdown, _underscore_ and *asterisk* both produce <em>italic</em>. For us, almost always italics are used to indicate a foreign word, typically Pali, so for us _pāḷī_ becomes <i lang='pli' translate='no'>pāḷī</i>.


So, in theory, couldn’t someone setup a webserver on their local machine and run it from there? This may not be the proper thread to discuss that, though.

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You can run it locally (for development), but you can’t sync it with the Git repo. So if you want to run your own separate instance of Bilara, no worries. But if you want to be part of “our” bilara, then no. Even if you could set it up, imagine the complexities of having multiple separate instances editing the same Github repo. :scream_cat:


Interesting. I thought the whole purpose of using github was version control. But I don’t really understand how it all works, obviously. I would have thought that each translation project would have been isolated.


It is, but at the end of the day you have to put everything together. The more complexity you build into the system, the greater the divergence and the more likely you are to encounter bugs when resolving things. One of the hardest things with Bilara is keeping everything synced over the web. On the web, nothing happens in real time, there’s always a delay. And so there’s always a potential for clashes. Git is great at this, but everything has its limits. You’d end up with two people editing the same file at the same time on different systems and interfaces, and … well, here’s what happened the last time anyone tried to do that.


I should mention, this is explained in the “How to” at the top of Bilara.


I am a native Thai. If there’s a need for review, I can help with that. One day I may take up the task of translating some of my favorite suttas, but not for now.


Thank you Bhante. That could be fun and, if I am able to make the time for some of that, I would love to be of service to this wonderful project!

Good call, Bhante. Someday I would still like to venture into translating aṭṭhakathā (especially once that is possible through Bilara!), but you are totally right about KN translations still needing translation for SuttaCentral. I will look into those which are not yet translated, and will likely jump in shortly. Thank you, Bhante!

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