It’s been a year to the day since the long-awaited version 8 of Umbraco was officially released. And it’s not often that a major version is released. After all, version 7 was around for 6 years before version 8 finally arrived.

One of the headline-grabbing features of Umbraco 8 is Language Variants, a big step forward in the management of multilingual websites. Umbraco has always been good at handling multilingual websites, what with its roots in Denmark and worldwide adoption – it had to be!

Historically, Umbraco handled different languages by basically duplicating the website structure allowing you to change the content based on the language you were working in. This was very flexible and worked very well, but could it be improved?

Yes, it could! Now, with Language Variants, we have a seamless experience. Instead of having separate copies of the website structure for each language, we have the ability to vary content by language, so a page can exist in several languages. The result is our multilingual content is much more closely related, which brings many benefits.

Mandatory and Default Languages

We can now specify which languages must have content before a page can be published. For example, if your primary audiences were UK and Sweden you could force content for both languages to be created before you can publish, ensuring all your essential language sites’ content exists and is up to date.

You choose one default language. Not all pages have on-screen content that needs to be edited for different languages. For example, a page might just contain selected pages from other areas of the site, such as testimonials, products or team profiles. We no longer need to maintain these types of content for different languages. Just once, ensuring consistency and saving time.

Switch Languages in Edit Mode

We now have two ways to edit our language content – switching the entire content tree or one page at a time.

At the top of the content tree you have a dropdown with all language versions configured for your website. Simply choose a different language to update the entire content tree to show that language version of your site.

English and Portuguese versions of the content tree

English and Portuguese versions of the content tree

If you prefer to keep your content tree to one language (many people find it easier to navigate the content structure in their native language) you can simply switch the language version of an individual page by clicking the dropdown to the right of the name field in the content area.

Side-by-Side Editing

This is my favourite feature! When switching the language on an individual page, you have the option to open in split view. Say you’re translating content form English to Portuguese; you can see both versions of the content side-by-side as you are editing.

Side-by-side editing

Side-by-side editing

Dictionary

What about static content that’s not usually managed by editors, such as form field labels?

This is where the dictionary comes in. Now available in the main navigation, the Translation tab shows a list, or dictionary, of all words and phrases that your website requires. These can be used for simple labels, or even longer messages such as “Your username or password is incorrect….”

Translate text strings in the dictionary

Translate text strings in the dictionary

Switch Languages in Preview Mode

Language variants has also made its way into the Preview Mode, allowing you to easily toggle between the different language versions of your site, seeing them in the full context of the whole page.

Selective Publishing

Clicking Save and publish now lets you select which content variants you want to publish, giving you the option to update all languages at once, delay the publishing to a different language version, or, not publish content to a certain language at all. For example, you may have a product that is not available in Sweden, so you can exclude it from your Swedish site entirely.

We hope this has given you a good insight into the language possibilities for your website but do get in touch if you have any questions or you'd like to see a demo.