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This is the first time I want to create a multilingual website. The site is Turkish now and I want to add English as second language (for both interface and content).

The main site (the Turkish one) has about 15 content types and each content type has 10-20 fields (text, entity reference, date, image etc). Also each content type has its own node.tpl.php and I made lots of customization to display node types. In short, the site is a bit complex.

I made some research about creating multilingual site (in Drupal of course) but I couldn't decide yet to use Drupal's multilingual features or to clone the Turkish site and create another site for English with some (language) modifications.

Creating two separate site is easier for me but using Drupal's multilingual features seems the "correct" way but more painful.

How to decide to create a multilingual site or to create different site for each language?

(More details: - Almost all of the contents in the Turkish site will have its corresponding content in the English site. - There is a team of non technical editors.)

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    Sitting on this for a bit, but this is very close to being either a "too broad" or "primarily opinion" based questions. – mpdonadio Dec 6 '16 at 19:33
  • Creating a different site per language means and different (ip) address per site, correct? And even if you create that second site for the other language, won't you to use the drupal's mulitlingual features to translate nodes, terms, menu items and so on? Managing, maintaining and deploying two different sites is way more open to mistakes rather than doing so for one site considering that the same features/code will be used for both sites – mchar Dec 7 '16 at 22:20
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    @mpdonadio, this question is not opinion-based, it's an "experience-based" question. I think it shouldn't be closed. – herci Dec 8 '16 at 8:51
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    @herci I sat on the fence for a bit on this, but still think it is opinion-based or too broad (the exact close reason doesn't have to be precise). We currently have one answer that is "I think" and just a bunch of links, another "personal view" with little substance, one short answer, and another that is an "another thing to consider". The fact that this question is attracting forum-type answers is an indication that it isn't a good fit for a Q&A site. – mpdonadio Dec 8 '16 at 14:23
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    We (the mods) talked about this question. It doesn't fit into the Stack Overflow engine of asking questions that has a correct answer. Still we feel that the question has merit and in time the answers provided could as well. So we converted this into a wiki. – googletorp Dec 12 '16 at 8:38
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In my personal view, I will consider if the new language site will be mostly identical to the existing one or not.

It means that if most of the pages / contents in the Turkish site will have its corresponding page / content in the English site, then I will build multilingual site, otherwise, I would like to set up a separate one.

  • Thanks for your answer. Yes, most of the contents in the Turkish site will have its corresponding content in the English site. – herci Dec 6 '16 at 16:52
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Using Drupal's multilingual features seems the "correct" way but more painful.

Indeed, more painful, but I think it is what you should go for. Because in the long run you'll achieve the best possible solution for also addressing your requirement "Almost all of the contents in the Turkish site will have its corresponding content in the English site".

If you do go for such a multi language implementation, you'll run into some typical issues (questions) for which many contributed modules will actually help you out (the most painful part is to know which module is available to solve which issue). To get you started (in getting used to the pains?), here are some challenges (in a random order), which may help to establish evaluation criteria to decide:

Think about how you would address those challenges if you'd be using multiple sites ... I'm not sure it's possible ... So i18n (and other modules related to it) is the way to go.

PS: Multi language in D8 has become easier ... a bit.

  • Thanks a lot for the detailed answer. I haven't decided yet but I'm trying both two ways now. Actually, because there is a team of non technical editors, two separate site might be easier. The Drupal "translate" interface is not easy for non technical users. Thanks again :) – herci Dec 7 '16 at 9:23
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    Hey @herci merci for the feedback. Lucky you that you have time for trying both ways. I'd be interested in "ever" hearing what you ended up as a final decission. Also, 2 more translation related tips .... (1) you may want to add "Translation Management" to your things to check and (2) you'll have to decide between (the rather new) "entity translation" (since D7) and "node translation" (rather old, since at least D6), both of them have pros/cons. PS: let me know if you want me to expand my answer a bit about those 2 tips ... – Pierre.Vriens Dec 7 '16 at 9:37
  • Thanks @Pierre, I'm still trying the both ways and will tell if I need more help :) – herci Dec 8 '16 at 8:52
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    You simply state that the best solution is X and making an "advertisement" of other posts you made. You aren't actually answering the question (How to decide ...) – googletorp Dec 11 '16 at 19:50
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I'd take into consideration who will maintain the content of the page. I've done some multilanguage sites already and i have to admit, that not every content editor will follow the sometimes hilarious ways of managing multilingual content in drupal. I'd say the work of maintaining two complex single sites can easily equal the effort that has to go into making a site truely multilingual.

  • Thanks for the answer. Does the last sentence of your anwer (I'd say the work of maintaining two complex single sites can easily equal the effort that has to go into making a site truely multilingual.) mean go with two complex single site or vice verse? :) – herci Dec 6 '16 at 17:21
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    Hehe, you did understand me quite right, according to your smiley. It really depends. If I had to decide it AND if I'm the only one maintaining the sites I'd go for two different single sites (maybe even a multisite installation). If there is a team of non technical editors I'd tend to a multilingual site (even if that means a higher effort to educate the editors). – Volker Dec 6 '16 at 17:40
  • How do you handle the <link rel="alternate" hreflang=...'> headers with separate sites? – mpdonadio Dec 6 '16 at 18:46
  • That's an interesting question indeed. Until now there was no need for international seo, but this will be an issue sometime in the future. Thanks for pointing this out... – Volker Dec 6 '16 at 19:03
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I have bit of experience working with Drupal multilingual sites.

Another thing to consider if you are using 'entity reference' and referencing nodes to other nodes. This will be bit complex to non technical users.

As the referencing child nodes has to have the same language as the parent node.

as an example: if you have a main/parent product in "Turkish" and you have referenced products(nodes) as "related products", Those has be translated to Turkish as well. you cannot link a node in "English" to another node in "Turkish".

since it's only for one language that's fine. assuming that you can give a training session to them.

Other than that you'll be good to go with "internationalization"

it will give a translate tab in the node/edit when you activate it. you will just need to create translations for those.

for blocks you need to activate the block languages module then you'll be able to translate the blocks too.

Menu translation will be done by activating the "Menu translation(i18n_menu)" www.drupal.org/node/1113982 module.

views translation can be done by activating the "Views translation (i18nviews)" www.drupal.org/node/2326037 can be filtered using "current users language" in filters in the view.

There won't be any need to change the template files. It will use the same template that is in currently use.

Hope this helped too.

Cheers!

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The main thing to consider when asking to solve multi lingual issue by creating multiple instances of the same site (same code base but different database) or using Drupal's multi lingual system is:

  1. Is it important that content is linked, so you can find same article in different languages?
  2. Is the editorial team split into regional teams, where one or more can't be trusted?

Why select Multi Lingual (ML) solution

The main thing you gain by setting up Drupal to be ML, is that all content is available in a single site. You can provide information about which languages the content is translated into and links to see the translated content. You only need a single login. Solving the ML issue is only something you need to solve once. Create a new language site will always take a certain amount of time depending on complex your Drupal site is.

Why select separate installation solution

On the other hand creating separate sites allow you manage the content better. I have a few times, tried being asked to limit the access of certain users, so they only could make changes on the local site. For big companies where branding and control can be important, solving this issue can be quite troublesome. Implementing custom access control on nodes based on language is doable, but once the site start using modules like panels, it's not really possible to manage user control. Having the content on separate sites instantly solve these issues.

Conclusion

Overall most people will benefit from using ML solution. With entity translation handling ML in Drupal 7 isn't that bad. There are many blog posts and experiences all over the internet that can help you in most situations. I've seen separate site route work well in some situations. Usually site that doesn't have a lot of content, like e-commerce sites are viable for this. Note that no matter which solution you end up choosing, there will be pains you have to overcome. What you need to do, is pick the solution where these pains are manageable and acceptable for stakeholders.

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