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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Multilingual support in PHP website

NOTE: This post is written for developers having some knowledge of PHP/MySQL. So, if you find it difficult to understand some part, plz leave your comments. - Nilesh

So many developers thinks that its hard to provide multilingual support to website. Are you one of them? No problem. Here are some helpful tips to provide basic multilingual support for you website.

There are 3 different cases

CASE#1 Provide multilingual to static contents of site.

For e.g. if you have header navigation, left navigation in website OR if you have predefined messages e.g. greeting messages, validation error messages etc then you need to do following things.

Create one configuration file per language.
E.g. if your site has English and Hindi support, then create 2 language configuration files.
(1) en.lang.inc.php
(2) hi.lang.inc.php

Both file will content same data in following format.
(1) en.lang.inc.php

define(‘WELCOME’, ‘Welcome’);
define(‘SIGN_IN’, ‘Sign In’);

NOTE: you need to find all places in your application to check how many strings you need with multilingual support and store in this file.

(2) hi.lang.inc.php

define(‘WELCOME’, ‘<place here hindi version of - Welcome>’);
define(‘SIGN_IN’, ‘<place here hindi version of - Sign In>’);

On user side, you need to provide selection to choose language.
English will be default language so lang=en

Your application request to change language will be xyz.com/file.php?lang=en for English, xyz.com/file.php?lang=hi for hindi.

Once user will make selection store that selection in COOKIE and use that value later so, you don’t have to pass “lang” parameter in each request.

Write code in your application’s common include file (this must be included in every request), to include proper configuration file based on selection.

So if user select English, only en.lang.inc.php will be included and if user selects Hindi, then only hi.lang.inc.php will be included.

Now you need to replace all your static contents with php constants in HTML/template files.

e.g. if your signin page contains.


Then replace it with <h1><?php echo WELCOME ?></h1>

So, page will load language specific contents.

CASE#2 Provide multilingual to images.

E.g. in header you have used one image for text “about us” then for hindi version you need same image with hindi text.

You can use two directories in your images directory. Image name must be same in two directories.


Then you need to change your code to load proper image based on language selection.

So, your image code

<img src=”images/about_us.jpg”>

will look like

<img src=”images/<?php echo $lang ?>/about_us.jpg”>

CASE#3 Provide multilingual to page contents.

e.g. if you have provision in admin panel to add content for “about us” page. You need to provide selection, for which language you are entering data. So, in database you will have two entries/versions for about us pages for two languages.

e.g. DB entries will be like below.
en | about_us | English contents
hi | about_us | Hindi contents

While displaying it to user, your query must use “language selected by user” to get proper contents from DB.

WYSWYG / TinyMCE editor has multilingual support for entering data. That you can use for entering data, else copy the data from any translator (e.g .google) and paste it into editor.

Database table for storing Unicode contents; must need to have UTF-8 setting >> charset: UTF-8 Unicode (utf8)

Also, you need to add following META into your HTML head.

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />

That’s all!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information on PHP targeting for multilingual sites, its nice to get an official answer on this topic.

    Multilingual web sites