Just about this time last year, WPML began, so I thought it would be fun to tell a bit about how that first year went by, where we are and where we’re going.
It’s pretty easy to recall, because last year at the beginning of April, I was off with my family for Semana Santa to Mendoza. This year, we’re also taking off during this time, but much farther this time.
Mihai, WPML’s lead developer (and the only developer at that time) was working 14 hours a day getting WPML ready for the first public release and I was stalking WiFi spots to check what’s going on. Mihai didn’t send any photos. Sorry.
The idea was to build a plugin for WordPress that would allow it to run like a proper content management system. Our role model was Drupal’s i18n module. We wanted to make WPML as powerful as Drupal’s solution, but without a fraction of the complexity.
We realized that for WordPress, things should just work. It’s great to have dozens of features, hooks and customization options, but without touching anything, the defaults should let it all work. Easier said than done.
The first really solid version for WPML was 1.2.1. By that time, basic functionality was working fully and (relatively) clean of bugs.
WPML’s next major breakthrough came around version 1.5. It got way too complex for manual testing and we started writing dozens of automated tests, using the wonderful WordPress testing framework. Having automated tests allows us to come out with frequent releases without burning weeks testing them.
The last major milestone was hit only recently with WPML 1.7. Now, WPML runs just fine on any WordPress theme, without having to edit themes to go multilingual.
We borrowed that idea from Drupal’s i18n as well. Essentially, WPML hooks to WordPress API calls and adjusts them to return contents per language. After this change, WPML’s daily downloads went from about 100 to 250.
There are many small features that we’re working on, so I’ll just talk about the game-changing new features for WPML.
Translation for admin-texts
Many themes and plugins allow users to enter texts in admin pages. These texts are normally saved in the wp_options table and then displayed in different places in the site. For instance, a credit footer.
WPML will allow translating these texts very soon. It sounds like a trivial thing but try to translate these texts otherwise and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Next, we’re add an automatic translations-downloader to WPML. This means that if you’re running a site in a language other than English, WordPress will fetch the translations that it needs for itself.
You switch to Spanish and your site goes and gets the Spanish translations.
Yeah, you can guess where we got that idea from (hint: Drupal).
When WPML turns 2
What would you like to see in WPML for its next birthday?
There’s plenty time until March next year, so all suggestions are welcome!