Parlez-vous CMS?
June 23, 2005 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a CMS that handles multi-lingual sites natively - my research isn't getting me very far.

Sorry for the length...

We have a website where the content in English changes daily. My challenge is to prevent it from getting stale in other languages.

Right now all content is stored in massive XML files (managed only by a source control system) and display is handled by jsp pages. When one little thing changes in one of these files I have to either manually cut and paste it into another file for translation (and do that again in X number of languages on the back side) or send out the entire file and pay for the translation vendor to essentially do this for me. I want to avoid both of these scenarios. I'm using translation memory already - but it isn't enough on its own.

My vision is to store web site content in smaller page or even paragraph sized chunks in a database. I want to query this chunk database once a week and find all the content that is new or changed since a certain date (ideally this would have a gui but if its command line - I’m ok with that). I then want an easyish way to export these text chunks (likely with some kind of chunk id) and then when they are back from translation - an easyish enough way to upload my shiney new French and German chunks into the database.

Ideally - I'd like this in the context of all the regular CMS functionality like templates, versioning, workflow and distributed authoring that we could use for the main English site. I am against big expensive software implementations. I'd love a solution that was hosted that could do this - but would take either a commercial or open source solution that wasn't bloaty and evil. Anyone tackle this problem without spending a bajillion dollars on software and services? It just doesn't seem that hard but all of my research isn't getting me very far.
posted by Wolfie to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Check out Drupal. It has a robust Internationalization Module and Interface Translations for many languages.

Drupal is free, clean, and fast, but you do need a spot of knowledge to get it installed and running.
posted by ulotrichous at 12:25 PM on June 23, 2005

By now, all the middle- and upper-tier CMS (and related) products should be fully internationalized.

I worked at Vignette in the late nineties and early aughts when Daimler/Chrysler moved to our product. (Or it might have been another big European-based multinational--I can't remember.) (Also note that what I'm describing is an ancient version of the product.)

We thought our product was already fully internationalized because, in theory, it was. But what we discovered as we were helping our customer through their implementation was that getting every goddam process-point in the pipeline to be I18n'd, and in a compatible manner, was a huge pain in the ass.

That was six years ago. I have to believe that any contemporary CMS worth its salt would be I18n out-of-the-box. But I am also sure that correct configuration of the complete environment is not a cakewalk.

You don't want expensive software, so everything I have in mind is out of the question. But I think you should look at the inexpensive and open source tools that are available and see if you can't get your environment fully I8n'd. I bet you can, but it will take considerable effort.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:58 PM on June 23, 2005

I'm writing my own CMS/blog software right now on the LAMP platform, but it won't be ready for some time. And yes, internationalization is a bit tricky.
posted by clevershark at 1:37 PM on June 23, 2005

Have you looked at Plone ( It's got some i18n stuff built in, though I'm not an expert on it.

It's also got some pretty good workflow features built into it -- you might even be able to issue your translation vendor an account on a Plone site, create a query that would automatically show them changed content, and have them translate directly into the site. Plone also supports "external editors", so site editors/contributors could work directly in Plone without being restricted to that little text area as an editor.

And Plone's free and open-source, and based on Python, which is a right cute little language (for all that it's a "real", full-featured programming language, too). I just like Python.

Negatives -- Plone's a little resource-hungry and can be slightly more expensive to host, but not a killer.
posted by amtho at 1:48 PM on June 23, 2005

Plone is decent. It has some of the best i18n support out there. In addition to what amtho describes, it supports setting up custom workflows where, say, content will not be published (ie., made visible to end users) until there is a translation for every language you want. That includes modifications. Plone has the best workflow support out there.

On the other hand, as I developer I would never want to develop for Plone/Zope again, and as a hoster I would never want to host it again. The code is a gigantic mess, and it's a resource hog. But as long as somebody else is hosting and you're not going to write Python modules for it, it's good.
posted by gentle at 4:49 PM on June 23, 2005

I swear by ezPublish. A VERY full-featured CMS that has internationalization as a core design principle.
posted by killdevil at 7:59 PM on June 23, 2005

« Older Cameraphone woes   |   Branch Centerpieces. Anybody know how to make... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.