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Update (April 3, 2011): WP E-Commerce 3.8 is out and it looks like it works fine with WPML. Test it and let us know how it’s going.

A week ago we wrote about sponsoring support for niche development and now we’re getting ready start with the first multilingual e-commerce solution for WordPress.

Three folks — Nicolas Harnois (2 Associés), Dan Milward (WordPress e-Commerce Plugin) and Level Level have agreed to sponsor this work.

Since we have an interested co-sponsor, we’ll naturally be starting with WordPress e-Commerce.

What’s a multilingual e-commerce solution?

An e-commerce plugin is like a CMS inside a CMS. It has its own database with products, shopping carts and transactions. Going multilingual means that products need to have language attributes and be translatable.

Then, the entire shopping, checkout and delivery process needs to run in the language in which the product was viewed.

Of course, people would also need to be able to pay in different currencies. That’s not exactly language related, but still should be supported.

How

WPML includes a mechanism for hooking to other plugins.  We call it compatibility packages.

The idea is that the e-commerce plugin continues working the same in one language. When WPML also runs, it will use hooks and filters in the e-commerce plugin to add the language information. This is exactly what WPML does with WordPress core as well.

On the e-commerce plugin side, we’ll need to make sure that there are filters in place for adding the language attributes. For instance, WPML needs to add language selectors to product pages, and translation controls to product administration.

Once all these filters and hooks are in place, WPML can make any plugin fully multilingual, just for the users who need it. Makes sense?

When

We got word that WP e-Commerce is updating now. We’ll work together with the folks from Instinct to make this new release multilingual-ready. We’re very excited about this and can’t wait to get started!

If you’re running an e-commerce WordPress site and want to see it running multilingual, let us know. We’ll be looking for early adopters to test and give feedback.