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90% of WPML users run multilingual blogs and 10% use it with custom themes, using WordPress as CMS. What about all the great premium themes out there?

Turning themes multilingual is too much work

Premium WordPress themes are complex beasts. When folks purchase them, they’re ready to be used and provide tons of functionality.

This means you can build great sites without burning precious time.

To make the themes multilingual, folks need to follow complicated instructions and edit delicate code. It’s not easy, even for us. Some of the challenges we keep seeing:

  • Featured contents on home page.
  • Special pages appearing in the home page, sidebar and footer.
  • Adding different types of language selectors to match the site’s appearance.

When we do this, we spend anything between several hours to several days – per theme, and we’re pretty experienced at it.

WPML will do it for you

We’re working on making WPML way smarter than it is now. Instead of WPML asking you to edit theme, it will practically do it all for you.

How this works is a bit difficult to explain, but the essence is that every time the theme gets posts, pages, tags or categories from WordPress, WPML will intervene and tell WordPress to return the right stuff according to the display language.

For instance, supposing the ID of your About page in English is 32 and its Spanish translation has an ID of 33. The theme doesn’t know the site is running multilingual, so even when displayed in Spanish, it still asks WP for the contents of page 32.

WPML sees that. It knows that the page is in Spanish, so it tells WP to return page 33 – the Spanish translation.

The theme doesn’t know that anything happened. It asked for the About page and it got it, just in the right language.

WPML already has functions for converting between IDs in different languages. The big difference is that now it will call these functions for you, without having to edit anything in the theme.

When already?

All this new theme magic is going into WPML 1.7.0. We’re skipping the small bugfix release in favor of adding this new major functionality.

If you’re using complex premium themes, we’d love it if you can test this new stuff before it’s released.

We’re testing it on great themes from WooThemes, VivaThemes and free themes from the WordPress theme repository, but the more testing, the better.

To help, leave a comment here or post in the forum.

21 Responses to “WPML adapts to premium themes”

  1. This will be really cool!
    I run several sites with WP and few with WPML.
    I am willing to test on


    • That would be great. Mihai (our WP ninja) is working hard to test it and we’ll have a public test version in the next few days.

  2. I’ve got one issue and I can’t decide how to fix it: on the main page there are 3 “ad” boxes, they advertise the company services and are static (but it’s up to the client to fill them). But how do I make them translatable?

    One way I thought would be to make them editable trough the functions.php file via the WP options, but that’s too complicated (you would have to add languages manually and make sure they have the same language code as WPML…).

    There are other ways, but they’re all too complicated, I could code them, easy, but from the user’s point of view I don’t think they can manage.

    Is there some obscure part of WPML I haven’t discovered perhaps.

    All I need are translatable static fields for every language.

  3. Hi Albert, if your theme is in Spanish your site’s WPML default language will have to be Spanish so the texts can be translated *from* Spanish to other languages.

    In the near future we’ll add an option to tell WPML in what language the theme is in so you will be able to have English as your default language.

    So – in order to try with the current WPML version – you have to install the plugin configure Spanish as your default language (will assume that your current content is in Spanish) then under ‘Select how to localize the theme’ select ‘Translate the theme by WPML” and scan your theme for texts using the scan button that will show up.

    After that, using the ‘String translation’ section you can translate the strings. You have to options: either translate yourself or first setup Professional Translation and translate the strings using professional translators using the same String Translations section.

    For any spcecific posts, pages, categories or tags that are set in the theme options WPML will adjust to the right translations when rendering the content of the translated pages on the front end. (This is a feature that’s currently under development and will be included soon)

    Thanks for your interest in WPML and let me knwo if there’s anything else I can help with. Note that there’s also the forum where you can find all sort of information or address more questions.

  4. admin,
    as a chinese simple user,i have to say that u make a very serious mistake,

    the chinese simple language end is zh_CN,and zh_HK is the end of traditional Chinese, Hongkong ,China.

    So, i hope u can change the mistake as soon as posible in the next plugins version!

    or i am so sorry to say that i cannot to use u plugins, however it is so excellent!

    I hope hear from you as soon as possible !

    作为一个简体中文用户, 我不得不指出你插件中存在的一个严重错误:


    • We’ll switch between the locales.

      In the mean while, you can very easily fix it for youself. Go to WPML->Theme and plugin localization and edit the locales table.

  5. hi Amir

    i ve been experimenting with WPML for many weeks and I came across all the issues that you mention above as I ve been using WordPress as a CMS and in a couple of cases with 1-2 Woothemes.

    The “featured section” is one of the headaches as well as the custom sidebar. But most of all the featured section. In the end I was lucky and managed to edit the theme code but I think that was based a lot on LUCK! hahahahaha! 🙂 as it did not mess up the rest of the code.

    Please send me an email once you have the new version and I ll do my best to return to you with feedback on what you ask. You have really made our “life” mush simpler with WPML so at least we owe you some feedback on beta version. 🙂

    Thanks and I am looking fwd to the new version.


    • Right now, we’re running dozens of tests and checking the new version against several complex CMS themes.

      We’ll post about it here when there’s a version to test. It should be in a few days.

      Keep an eye for the next post, where you’ll be able to find a download link.

  6. One last thing… I have not managed to find… how to HIDE the flag when a page/post is not available for A language. I checked in the forum… but with no luck! 🙁

    any suggestions pleaseeee?? I am familiar with coding and can easily edit it if you have a suggestion!



    • Did you look at the instructions for creating a custom language switcher?

      The skip_missing argument tells if WPML includes languages without translation.

      To hide the language switcher completely, you will need to check if icl_get_languages returns just one value and if so, hide the language switcher.

  7. You can count on me AMIR! I use the Woothemes template- Busybee. I hope that is one of the ones you are testing. I need my page in English and Spanish – ASAP. Thank you for this!

  8. I would like to test it for my German language webpage running WordPress as a cms (professional lawyer webpage).

  9. Hello,

    Combination woothemes Canvas/WPML gives the following error in page admin area:

    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 27

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /var/www/vhosts/ in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 790

    Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /var/www/vhosts/ in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 791

    Any help?


  10. Considering any WooTheme you can’t help however notice exactly how incredibly designed these types of styles are. Not really are WooThemes aesthetically revitalizing, but they are made to supply great user conversation and keep up in order to modern website design trends.

  11. Hi,

    It would seem that WPML is incompatible with Headway 2.0.1. When the WPML plugin is activated, the whole site returns a blank grey screen. Admin areas work fine, but I am unable to see the actual theme or any of the content.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    • We haven’t tested with Headway. There are two ways to go about it:
      1) Do it as a paid service for you, on a per-hour consultancy basis (our standard paid support doesn’t cover this kind of work).
      2) The Headway folks become interested and we work with them to make WPML and Headway compatible. In this case, the work goes for the benefit of every Headway user and we’re not asking for any payment.

      If you can get some interest in Headway, we can get it going.