Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wordpress multilingual dilema

Originally I intended to dedicate my first post on a new English blog to the way I made my Wordpress blog bilingual. But since this post is on, something obviously went wrong.

As I've said before, I had the idea to start writing in English for some time. Some posts just need a bigger audience (yes, I'm an egoist a little and a vision of thousands people from all over the world, compared to few Czech visitors reading my site now, is an attractive one). So, I was thinking what do I need to start and how to implement it.

Also, I like the wordpress software. It seems to my as a nicely written piece of software, which is highly customizable - unlike for example phpBB it has a fine plugin API which enables you to use plugins without modification of the original software and also the templating system is based on PHP, so you don't have to learn another totally stupid system. Both makes the administration much more easier, especially upgrading is a question of only few minutes (have you ever tried to upgrade modified phpBB? And you have to upgrade frequently, as it's very poorly written and full of security bugs). stop of phpBB bashing NOW

What I wanted was to be able to write some articles in Czech, some in English and some even in both languages. I knew I wouldn't be able (and even would want) to translate everything. I wanted it to run on my domain and in the best case to use the same installation as my Czech blog - the same database, the same set of files, the same administration. So I tried to find a plugin to meet my needs - after all it shouldn't be hard, there so many plugins for WP, you know? Or not?

So I navigated to the translation and language plugins section of Wordpress web, quite sure I would find what I was looking for. Of 14 plugins available, I could dismiss 8 at the first look. Most of them were automatic translation plugins (not only I wasn't looking for translation, but also automatic translation is more funny than useful and moreover not available for Czech). I also couldn't find any use for Finnish quotes or encoding conversions (I use UTF-8).

With not many left, it was easy to look at each of one. Few were only for WP 1.5, so nothing to think about. Others (even one that call itself "The most advanced multilingual plugin for WordPress of these days" - it's a proof of relativity of the word "most") used cookies for language selection. Cookies are a very bad idea for localization, as they make indexing of language versions by search engines virtually impossible. Other problems included showing every article for each language, or showing all the languages together (very confusing for readers and search engines).

After all, there seems to be one plugin that would be OK and would meet my needs. It's name is Gengo. It supports translation of everything, you can use summaries in other languages, mark articles as a translation of other article, use of the language is URL based.

Why the hell am I not using it? The main reason is the demo page didn't work at the time I was examining it and I was too lazy (especially after being disappointed of all the other plugins) to try to find out more. And there were few problems mentioned that kept me from trying it (possibly MySQL4.1 required and problems with WP2.0.6). And I read about the new for domains.

So, I'm finally here. I'll keep an eye on Gengo, maybe sometime I even switch to it. But for now I'll stick to the Blogger with it's large and more anonymous community ;).

(Yes, I know, what I'm writing about is basically how lazy I am).

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