Drupal 8’s New Multilingual Capabilities

  • 5 minute read

Gabor Hojtsy verbatim: on one of the important new features of Drupal’s latest platform, advice to administrators of older sites, mixing human and machine translation, and the overall value proposition of multilingual in Drupal 8.


Gabor Hojtsy is the Drupal 8 Multilingual Initiative lead. Previously Gabor was the Drupal 6 lead maintainer, working as a gatekeeper for fixes and improvements to help keep Drupal 6 stable and working great. He also worked on Acquia's launch, the Acquia Network, Drupal Gardens, Spark and then Drupal 8 core. He has a Master of Computer Science degree from the Technical University of Budapest. Below, Gabor on a variety of multilingual topics.


How Drupal 8 supports multilingual site administration

The three important things to note are:

  1. Everything knows its language in Drupal 8. If you deal with the site name or view or field setting or a block or menu item or something else – everything knows its language. That’s very important because that allows us to do translations for them. Once we know their language, we know what we are translating from.
  2. We built in translation solutions for other things, i.e., everything in the software, everything in your content repository, and everything in configuration. We covered all the bases for translation user interfaces.
  3. We sprinkled little improvements across the board such as transliteration for machine names, admin language settings, etc. All these small things make your life easier when you deal with supporting language.

Advice to administrators of older sites

Somebody asked me: “I’ve got a complicated Drupal 6 site with Spanish and English. Should I try to upgrade it or start over and import the content?”

Good news! In 8 these are the same, because it comes with the migrate module to support version updates. We are building the Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 migration, which is in fact a site rebuild. So what you are doing is migrating existing content from your Drupal 6 site to your Drupal 8 site, and some of the configuration, as much as the migrate module can migrate. That happens in the new instance for the Drupal 8 site so you don’t need to copy Drupal 8 and replace your Drupal 6 and hope that it’s not going to break. We have a solution for that as a separate site, you can migrate to that and use that to test migration and reproduce issues and figure out if you’re done or not.

Mixing human and machine translation

The main focus is to have data about your languages and to have some user interfaces for translation. Machine translation is possible to integrate into this system but is not integrated by default. You can use a field to mark content that was machine translated and build a simple workflow support page in Views to review that content for accuracy (and/or disclose to site visitors which translation was human-reviewed).

There are two existing solutions in the works for Drupal 8 to integrate a more serious translation workflow. One is Lingotek and the other is the suite of translation management tools, TMGMT. Both of them are in the works for Drupal 8 and both integrate with machine translation and provide you with workflow to manage your translations across configuration, content, and interface. With those, you can manage the workflow however you wish. You can do both human and machine translation.

The overall value proposition of multilingual in Drupal 8, in a nutshell

My colleague, Jeffrey A. “jam” McGuire, summarized it best. He said that multilingual in Drupal 8 is a huge business advantage. We will save incredible amounts of time and money, and deliver better experiences than we were ever able to do before. This not only allows you to do things faster, it also allows you to do things better, which is kind of a great combination, I would say.

Where to find out more

If you are interested in more information, the multilingual core initiative itself has a site at drupal8multilingual.org. There’s a short summary video and breakdowns of all the features that we’ve added.