Frustrations with Multilingual Support for Joomla

Currently there are couple multi-lingual solutions for Joomla (1.5 and 2.5).  Unfortunately, none of them have it all.

Below are the options I will be discussing:

  1. Joomla 2.5 integrated system
  2. Josetta for Joomla 2.5
  3. Joomfish for Joomla 1.5
  4. Falang for Joomla 2.5
Systems 1 & 2 rely on having “Double Content” within the content management system (Assuming bilingual systems).
Systems 3 & 4 replace the strings/text rather than doubling up on content within the CMS.  The translations are recorded in the external component separately from the original content.

Joomla 2.5 Integrated System

The integrated system within Joomla 2.5 works by replacing menu items for different languages.  I did this for sites which were simpler like Studio-F.  That is, it is just as easy to implement the same system in Joomla 1.5.  It is an improvement that this exists, but if a person could think of it as an obvious system, there was no difference.  I don’t think that this is a real solution at all.  In fact, its what people did before there was JoomFish!

The big problem I have is that if you’re using K2 or any other content management system within Joomla, it becomes a web admin’s nightmare.  K2 parameters are long and often hard to copy by hand.  I suppose you could have K2 copy all of the parameters by having it inherit parameters.  

Not only that, you are doubling (for bilingual sites) your content amount.  This system is also annoying in that it won’t display non-translated content.  This means that if your site is bilingual and a couple of articles isn’t translated, it won’t show on the otherside as the default language.  I know that this may sound stupid to some people, but I prefer that it shows in the default language when the translation isn’t available; I don’t want to miss things that I could be seeing.

Another gripe I have against the “Double Content” system is that what happens when you integrate the system using K2mart?  (K2mart ties K2 items as a Virtuemart shop item).  Since you need to have two items per shop item, the inventory becomes a nightmare!


Josetta for Joomla 2.5

Josetta makes the above system actually useful by making translations simpler for people using the integrated multilingual system within Joomla 2.5.  I really like how the system works, but since it is based on the above system, it’ll have all the same problems of having to double up on all of your content.  It evens has a nice “Josetta Translations” button for purpose of translating from the backend. (Enable via the Modules section)

I think that they could really improve their tutorial on the installation though.  I wasted at least 2 hours trying to figure out what they’re saying.  I don’ think it is the actual content they’re having trouble with, but more with their organization.


Joomfish for Joomla 1.5

First of all, I wish this product was priced at $50~$100 with 30 day e-mail support.  I’m not so sure about their “Club” based system.  I really enjoy the ease with which translations can be made.  The setup as I remember was a bit confusing at the start, but it is as such with all systems.  This system as mentioned earlier uses string replacement rather than redirecting to a different article/item.  I personally prefer this system as it’ll show untranslated items along with translated items.


Falang for Joomla 2.5

Since Joomfish was slow to come to market (still not there) with a compatible version for Joomla 1.6+ to 2.5, came out with a fork of Joomfish.  This really works well for most sites including K2mart based shops.  I really like this system though I wonder how long the system will be in support as Joomfish appears to be coming out with a version and also because the “Official” route for translation by Joomla appears to be to have “Double Content”.  Double Content systems does’t work well with K2mart/Virtuemart since you would have to keep track of two inventories which are really the same.


In Conclusion:

Depending on your needs and your purpose, choosing the right translation system is important.

If you need K2mart as part of your setup, don’t use the Joomla Integrated system or Josetta, go with Falang (or Joomfish if they ever come out with a system for 2.5).

If you are building an informational site and have bilingual/trilingual personnel as part of your staff, the Josetta route will definitely be great as it provides an organized way to do translations.

We’ll soon be re-doing our own Y-Designs site and will most likely use the Josetta route.