Running a multilingual site is a challenge. It starts with the theme development, continues with building the site and ends with administering multilingual contents. The next major version of WPML aims to improve on all aspects.

Just a year ago, people used WordPress mainly to build blogs. Most themes were blog-oriented.

Then, came magazine themes and now we’re seeing more and more product-related sites. This explains the gold rush of E-Commerce for WordPress.

But, as things become more complex, getting it fully multilingual is turning very difficult.

For example, how would you handle these?

  • Indicate which custom fields need translation
  • Choose which custom post types and taxonomy to translate
  • Choose which admin strings (stored in wp_options) to translate
  • Restrict access for translators to their languages
  • Send notification to translators about new work
  • Keep track of translation progress

With the current design of WPML, all these questions are difficult to answer.

Full Integration with Themes

WPML 2.0 will read a translation configuration file from the theme. This configuration file will tell WPML everything it needs to know about making the theme multilingual.

It will be a simple XML file, which both humans and WPML can easily read. So, instead of having to go through dozens of check-boxes and menu options, the theme can come prepared with its multilingual settings.

When people use themes that include translation configuration files, they can start translating immediately. No changes to do and nothing to set up (except choose your languages).

As a great example, keep a close eye on Templatic‘s E-commerce framework. We’re working closely with the developer to make E-commerce multilingual ready as soon as WPML 2.0 is ready.

Working with Translators

So, once we’re using a theme with a translation configuration file, we’ll need to manage the translation process itself.

As site developers, this may seem like a small problem (to the content admins), but we’re actually talking about a huge challenge for your clients.

With single-language sites, you need to train the client about how to use WordPress. When you deliver multilingual sites, you need to teach the client and the translators. Clients may have good technical background but most translators are way behind. They know translation tools inside and our but have no idea what WordPress is.

To solve this, we’re separating between site admin and translation. Completely.

As it works today, admins click on these cools + buttons and add translations. That’s great. It just gets a bit more work when they also need to match categories, tags, custom fields and parents.

Then, when you’re also using custom post types, the translators will need to manually scan posts, pages, tags, categories and all custom types to find what’s changed. That’s a lot of work for someone who doesn’t know WordPress.

Again, WPML 2.0 changes all that.

Everything that needs translation will appear in the Translation Dashboard.

The new Translation Dashboard in WPML 2.0

This page is for admins only (not translators). Admins choose what to translate, to which languages and by who.

Then, they click on the button to send to translation.

WPML will send notification emails to all translators, telling them about the new work. It will include a link to the translation jobs queue.

When translators click on that link, they see a list of jobs waiting for them. Each translator sees the jobs in his/her language pair.

Translators click on each job and arrive at the Unified Translation Editor.

The Unified Translation Editor in WPML 2.0

* This screenshot is a bit outdated. The editor will include WYSIWYG editors for all text fields

Translators don’t really need to care what they’re translating. They use a special translation editor where they translate everything.

The editor shows the original text and the translation side-by-side. They complete the translation and click on Save.

Then, WPML puts everything back into place.

Remember that translation configuration file that the theme includes? This is how WPML knows what needs translation and where to return everything.

Translators don’t need any privileged in WordPress to translate. They don’t even need writer or editor rights. Site admins choose which language pair they can translate between and WPML takes care of everything else.

Want in Too?

We’re building this fancy new translation system based on great user feedback.

If you’re building themes, leave a comment here. We’d love to work with you towards WPML 2.0 and make sure that it covers everything that your theme can do!

15 Responses to “The Future of Multilingual WordPress”

  1. looking forward to 2.0 do you have an estimate when is going to be released?
    i want to use it using templatic´s ecommerce templates.

    • The plan is to release WPML 2.0 in about 3-4 weeks. We’re working with Templatic to make sure that their themes (especially e-commerce) and WPML are compatible.

  2. Is there any plan to include support for burmese language. Burmese translation still not include in WordPress. But we are translating wordpress into burmese. You can see our translation project in googlecode http://code.google.com/p/myanmarlocalizationprojects/downloads/list.
    If you can’t include burmese in your product, let me know if I can make it by myself for burmese language support in your plugin. and can i distrubute in wordpress community.
    Thanks for your plugin,

    Sithu Thwin

  3. Two plugins I’d like you to keep tabs on, and maybe be in touch with the developers:

    BuddyPress Wiki Compoent

    WordPress Wiki

    BP-Wiki is especially peculiar, because it relies on some slug-rewriting of sorts to make pages and their associated link appear correctly inside of groups. Having the ability to easily make it multi-lingual would be extremely handy though.

    ~ Erlend

    • I’m glad to see interest in WPML 2.0. We’re making good progress and should have a beta version in a couple of weeks.

  4. Hi Amir,

    Is there any wordpress shopping cart that you made compatible with the current version wpml ? Free or premium.


  5. Hey there,

    I’m wondering on the status of WPML integrating with WordPress’ menu system. This menu system is robust, I really love it, and I’m wondering when WPML will integrate with that rather than re-invent the wheel with it’s own menu system.



  6. Hello,

    Back in august 2010, you were mentionning “Restrict access for translators to their languages” in your TODO. What’s up with this functionnality ? I really need this.
    I’ve go to restrict the admin section to a german user to contents only translated in german (he can’t see or manage content in other language). Is that possible now ?


    • Instead, we created a complete translation workflow, which includes WPML’s Translation Editor. Now, translators not only access their languages, but also only the content that you specifically assign to them.