Multilingual support in Drupal 8

While English is the lingua franca for business these days, only about five percent of the world's population speaks it as their first language, and more than 70 percent doesn't speak it at all. Even in Europe, where English is widely known, people value tools in their own language. I saw this first hand a few weeks ago when I was there to give some presentations about Drupal. Most of the questions I got were about localization (l10n) and internationalization (i18n). Language is both an accessibility issue and a user experience issue; strength in this area is crucial to Drupal's success. That's why I decided to make multilingual access an official initiative for Drupal 8, with Gábor Hojtsy as its Initiative Owner.

We've already come a long way with i18n and l10n in Drupal 7, but I know we can do much better. Creating Drupal sites in multiple languages still requires too many contributed modules, and the interface isn't intuitive enough. My dream is that Drupal becomes the indisputable choice for anyone who wants to build a multilingual site. With Gábor in charge, I have confidence we'll make another giant step forward with Drupal 8.

Experienced Drupalists will immediately recognize Gábor as a prolific developer on both Drupal's core and the 70-plus modules he's worked on since joining the Drupal community eight years ago. He is my co-maintainer for Drupal 6, a contributor to Drupal 7 with a focus on issues of internationalization and localization, a driving force behind localize.drupal.org and more. In short, Gábor is a big reason Drupal's multilanguage features are already incredibly robust, and I'm very pleased that he's agreed to continue this work.

Gábor's involvement brings the number of active Drupal 8 initiatives to four, joining Jeff Burnz (design), Greg Dunlap and David Strauss (configuration management), and Larry Garfield (web services). They all have outstanding Drupal résumes, and they're already doing great work to guide and focus the community's efforts to make Drupal 8 amazing.

Acquia already gives 15% community time to engineers to work on their Drupal community projects. Gábor is going to use this time and will be able to consult with Acquia's design and user experience team in specific questions.

Comments

AdamGerthel (not verified):

I attended two sessions by Gábor at DrupalCamp Stockholm this weekend and his sessions were by far the most rewarding ones. I'm looking forward to the improved language handling in D8.

May 9, 2011
Dries:

I'm not surprised; Gabor is a rockstar.

May 10, 2011
Christopher Pelham (not verified):

Thank you, Dries! I always wondered how an open-source project initiated and led by a non-Anglo European could be so Anglo-centric at times. I hope that Gabor will help to develop published protocols that allow contrib developers to make sure that their modules are multi-lingual friendly. Even some of the most important and highly regarded developers of highly used modules like CCK and Views have in the past (including up to last month) lamented that they just aren't familiar with what's needed to make their tools work for multi-lingual sites. (That said, they have tried so this is not aimed at them at all). I just think for English-only developers, it's often not a focal point, but for Drupal to be adopted internationally on a truly huge scale, we must make it a focal point.

May 10, 2011
Cary Gordon (not verified):

Prayers do get answered.

Okay, that's melodramatic, but internationalization has always been a key requirement for my company's biggest clients and partners. I wish that I could be in Berlin to help on the i18n sprint, because for several of our clients, Drupal 7 isn't really out yet.

I have been inveighing for the last few months to make internationalization a key component of Drupal 8, so today is a good one for me and for a good number of the non-Anglophones in the world.

(To be fair, D7 works just fine in other languages. It's multiple language handling that is lagging.)

May 10, 2011
MXT (not verified):

This is a great, greeeat, GREAT NEWS!

Thank you very much!

May 10, 2011
Jose Reyero (not verified):

Great idea, Dries, and good choice. Congrats Gabor!

May 10, 2011
plach (not verified):

These are really great news. One of the things we suffered most in the D7 pre-release life cycle was not having a clear target: we addressed (brilliantly I'd say ;) some specific needs but what we were missing was a coherent plan to make all the i18n efforts work together. A dedicated initiative is more than I allowed myself to hope in, so I am very excited about it.

I think one of our major targets should be to design an architecture in which all the different objects/entities we will have to deal with will be treated in a unique, consistent way. In this context we should try to hard to make i18n integration "come for free" whenever possible, to let contrib coders focus on the features they have in mind. This is the approach we took while adding native language support to the Field API and that hopefully will reveal itself the right choice.

May 10, 2011
andypost (not verified):

Internationalization code sprint is scheduled at Drupal Camp Kyiv'11

Russian and Ukrainian communities has a strong translation teams so I planing to spread this effort to developers

May 10, 2011
mazze.ch (not verified):

Great to have you on board, Gabor. I really appreciate the work you have done over the past years. Actually the i18n features were the reason why we even considered a tool called "Drupal" back then.

May 10, 2011
Jeff Burnz (not verified):

Hooray for this! Congrats Gábor! Being someone who works with multilingual sites on a pretty regular basis I'm very pleased this is going to get a big boost in core.

May 11, 2011
Benj (not verified):

Hi,
that would be a very smart move, indeed, Dupal needs total multilingual support built in.

For those of us needing international support now and using the current Internalization module on drupal 7..... will it be possible to cleanly upgrade to Drupal 8 and keep our international settings and documents ?

May 12, 2011
Blix (not verified):

Awesome news!

Internationalization really is very important for a lot of (European) companies and something that most CMS solutions tend to ignore. Giving Drupal better multilingual support will definitely contribute to it's continued succes in the future!

May 12, 2011
Linulo (not verified):

Awesome news!
But while I don't want to spoil the party I would like to mention that I do think the .po system is not a solution but a stumbling block in the way towards perfect i18n.

May 13, 2011
Vesa Palmu (not verified):

Some additional motivation for i18n.. This comprehensive study was published a few days ago: "User language preferences online" - http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_313_en.pdf

May 14, 2011
Barbara (not verified):

I think Drupal has made its way up to the CMS, Drupal is great but I would still rather have the simple way of makign and editing websites

May 16, 2011
Samuel Lampa (not verified):

Great stuff!

Language support was one thing which immediately narrowed down our CMS selection options many years ago, to finally land on Drupal.

The other Drupal 8 initiatives looks great too, especially the config mgmt! The one initiative I'm still missing (since years back), is a robust data import/export mechanism, á la MediaWiki import/export dump tools. I know that the Data in Drupal has a much bigger complexity, but at least allowing import/export of at of nodes and fields, would go a long way, IMO, and make Drupal a more natural choice as "original data store" for many, I think.

Cheers,

May 16, 2011
heyrocker (not verified):

If all goes well, the configuration management initiative will go a long way towards making this a reality. More details to come soon.

May 18, 2011
Dave (not verified):

This is really a great initiative. We have use i18n modules in a project. Even it works well, we still don't feel comfortable when leverage such a critical feature which is not part of Drupal core.

May 17, 2011
Thomas Svenson (not verified):

Great appointment. Now we know Drupal 8 will have the best possible support for multilingual sites.

May 20, 2011
dropcube (not verified):

Awesome news for all us who works with multilingual sites on a regular basis.

I would like to work on a keyword-based translation system that will allow us to keep translations from on version to other and use different translations for different kind of websites (install profiles).

Example: user.login-form.username.label

May 30, 2011
Gábor Hojtsy (not verified):

Superb, I've opened a discussion piece for that at http://groups.drupal.org/node/154394, please drive people there and provide your feedback, thanks!

June 8, 2011

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