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Gadgetto

Set up a nice language switcher for your website

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Hello,

I'm very new to ProcessWire but already fell in love with this CMS/CMF! I just finished my first small project and as I saw a lot of questions and different answers in this forum on how to set up a nice language switcher for your website, I decided to write my first tutorial.

----------

Please note:

I rewrote this tutorial since I was made aware and learned that flags should not be used for language selectors!

There are some threads here in the forum (and from external sources) where this question is discussed:

https://processwire.com/talk/topic/13196-adding-image-field-to-language/
http://daily.unitedlanguagegroup.com/stories/editorials/inside-design-language-selector-no-flags
https://processwire.com/talk/topic/16524-extending-languages-template/
http://www.flagsarenotlanguages.com/blog/why-flags-do-not-represent-language/
https://processwire.com/talk/topic/14241-language-names-and-utf8-page-names/

Thanks,

@ottogal

@bernhard

@jmartsch

@kongondo

an all others for your hints!

----------

 

TUTORIAL - Set up a nice language switcher for your website - here we go:

 

language-switcher-demo.gif.1106b612803111f899091fbe3caa39fc.gif

This will be the desired result!

 

Step 1)

Setup at least 2 languages in your PW install. In my case it's German (default language) + English:

 

screenshot-languages-setup.png.ac0446cc50c2350b96db305c2c0b44d9.png

 

Step 2)

Add a custom field

Type = Text
Name = languagecode

This will hold the ISO 639-1 two-letter language code for the respective language. The field is needed to provide a simple method for outputting the language code in your templates. Without this field, you will need to programmatically construct your two-letter language code output via PHP (at least for the default language, as ProcessWire doesn't allow to rename the default language and it will always be called default).

Here is an overview for ISO 639-1 two-letter language codes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ISO_639-1_codes

 

screenshot-languages-field-languagecode.thumb.png.d63ba6a49a151dd4b3bb5d8369aa4f6e.png

 

Step 3)

Add this field to the system template: language.

To achieve this, go to Setup / Templates and activate the filter Show system templates:

 

screenshot-system-templates.png.977e78e800e122a83d108a55315bd620.png

 

Now you can add the previously created field languagecode to the language template.

 

screenshot-system-template-fields.png.1419396e292ff127bca922b47e7ca538.png

 

Step 4)

Edit your languages and fill in the appropriate values.

a) default (German)

Name = default (this can't be changed and is read only)
Title = Deutsch (in both language tabs! - this is important as your visitor should always see his language item ... in his language)
languagecode = de

 

screenshot-languages-german.png.e68bda4ab148d6baf7777112856f00af.png

 

b) english (English)

Name = english
Title = English (in both language tabs! - this is important as your visitor should always see his language item ... in his language)
languagecode = en

 

screenshot-languages-english.png.f72e4f827fdd7b65a741ea770ad6a4f7.png

 

Step 5)

Now we are ready to write our template output!


As we already have the appropriate two-letter ISO language code (languagecode field), we can use this in our html lang property:

 

<html lang="<?php echo $user->language->languagecode; ?>">

 

Also the rel alternate output in the html head is simple. Put the following code within your <head></head> area:

 

<?php

// Handle output of 'hreflang' link tags for multi-language (SEO!)
foreach ($languages as $language) {
    
    if (!$page->viewable($language)) { continue; }
    
    // Get the http URL for this page in the given language
    $url = $page->localHttpUrl($language); 
    
    // Get the language code using custom languagecode field
    $languagecode = $language->languagecode;
    
    echo PHP_EOL.'<link rel="alternate" hreflang="'.$languagecode.'" href="'.$url.'">';
}

?>

 

In my sample I've used Boostrap 4 and the code below shows a complete navbar with our language switcher (BTW the language switcher will always be visible, even when the bootstrap navbar is collapsed):

 

<nav id="mainnav" class="navbar navbar-expand-lg navbar-light px-4 px-md-5 sticky-top">
    <a class="navbar-brand" href="<?php echo $config->urls->root; ?>">
        <img src="<?php echo $config->urls->templates; ?>images/logo-rund-80x80.png" alt="">
        Your Site Title
    </a>
    <ul class="navbar-nav ml-auto mr-3 mr-lg-0 order-lg-last d-none d-xs-custom-flex language-switcher" aria-label="<?php echo __('Sprache wechseln') ?>">
        <?php
        echo '<li class="nav-item dropdown">';

        // Construct the language prompt in the current user language
        $prompt = $user->language->title.' ('.strtoupper($user->language->languagecode).')';

        // Current language = dropdown-toggle
        echo '<a class="nav-link dropdown-toggle" href="#languages" id="language-select" data-toggle="dropdown" aria-haspopup="true" aria-expanded="false">';
        echo '<span class="world-icon"></span><span class="sr-only">'._x('(aktuelle Sprache)', 'navigation').': </span> '.$prompt;
        echo '</a>';
        
        echo '<div id="languages" class="dropdown-menu dropdown-menu-right" aria-labelledby="language-select">';

        foreach ($languages as $language) {

            // Get the http URL for current page in the given language
            $url = $page->localHttpUrl($language);
            
            // Construct the language prompt in the given language
            $prompt = $language->title.' ('.strtoupper($language->languagecode).')';
                                                    
            // Next language item (except current language)
            if ($user->language->id != $language->id) {
                if (!$page->viewable($language)) {
                    echo '<span class="dropdown-item disabled">'.$prompt.'</span>';
                } else {
                    echo '<a class="dropdown-item" href="'.$url.'">'.$prompt.'</a>';
                }
            }
        }
        echo '</div>';
        echo '</li>';
        ?>
    </ul>
    <button class="navbar-toggler" type="button" data-toggle="collapse" data-target="#navbarMainMenu" aria-controls="navbarMainMenu" aria-expanded="false" aria-label="<?php echo __('Menü einblenden / ausblenden') ?>">
        <span class="navbar-toggler-icon"></span>
    </button>
    <div class="collapse navbar-collapse my-3 my-lg-0" id="navbarMainMenu">
        <ul class="navbar-nav mr-auto">
            <?php
                
    		// Top navigation consists of homepage and its visible children
    		foreach ($homepage->and($homepage->children("template=main-page|news|contact-points")) as $item) {
                
    			if ($item->id == $page->rootParent->id) {
        			echo '<li class="nav-item active">';
        			echo '<a class="nav-link" href="'.$item->url.'">'.$item->title.'<span class="sr-only"> '._x('(aktuelle Seite)', 'navigation').'</span></a>';
        			echo '</li>';
    			} else {
        			echo '<li class="nav-item">';
        			echo '<a class="nav-link" href="'.$item->url.'">'.$item->title.'</a>';
        			echo '</li>';
    			}
            
    		}
    		
            ?>
        </ul>
    </div>
</nav>

 


That's it! I hope you will like my tutorial and if there are any questions, critics or improvements please let me know!

Thanks,
Martin

 

Edited by Gadgetto
Removed the language flags from tutorial as this is bad practise!
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Hi Gadgetto,

two remarks:

(1)  Your very first animated GIF shows the wrong flag for Germany: It's the flag of Austria - a German speaking country, that's true.

This is a great example for the following insight:

(2) It is not the right way to distinguish languages by flags!

There are some threads here in the forum where this question is discussed. When I find some link, I'll share it.

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Good objections that I had never thought of before! If I only could edit my post I‘d correct the tutorial...

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Hi @Gadgetto,

if you don't have edit links in your posts, it may be a limitation for new forum users, that will go away after a number of posts. Not really sure so. 

If I will find out more, I come back here or PM you. 

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I have an update ready for this tutorial! As soon as I can edit my posts I will put the changes online!

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Thx for the tutorial!

You might re-think the approach of using flags for your language switcher. See http://www.flagsarenotlanguages.com/blog/ and http://www.flagsarenotlanguages.com/blog/why-flags-do-not-represent-language/ for example. Or this one: https://wplang.org/never-use-flags-language-selection/

15 hours ago, ottogal said:

(1)  Your very first animated GIF shows the wrong flag for Germany: It's the flag of Austria - a German speaking country, that's true.

Actually this comment proves the problem with flags... for me the comment sounded weird at first sight (because reading "my" flag as "wrong" felt strange 😉 ), but actually that's exactly the problem with flags and it might be better to have a text-only version.

IMHO adding a language switcher is still too much hazzle... Maybe I'll build a small module for that as I'm building a multilang site right now anyhow. Or are there already solutions?

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@Gadgetto I wanted to say the same as @bernhard said, but he was quicker. Flags are no indicator for languages but indicate countries instead. This is something I constantly tell my customers, that want to have multi-language sites. For a good implementation of a language switcher take a look at https://www.p-jentschura.com

There I follow best practices for a language switcher.

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16 hours ago, Gadgetto said:

If I only could edit my post I‘d correct the tutorial.

That's strange. At 23 posts you should really be able to edit your posts. A recent upgrade probably messed things up or your account got messed up in some way. Anyway, @horst is looking into it.

Thanks for your enthusiasm for ProcessWire and your willingness to share your experience at this early stage 🙂.

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Thanks @kongondo, you are one of the first to say something  positive! Had only critics so far (probably fair) ... 🙂

Already thought that with my basic knowledge it was a bit too early to write a tutorial. It was more a lesson for myself because I searched the forum on how to implement a language switcher for front-end. The clues I found were all a little unclear and incomplete. Especially the hints about getting the correct ISO code using php conditions although we have the wonderful custom fields to our disposal were not exactly satisfying.

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22 minutes ago, Gadgetto said:

you are one of the first to say something  positive! Had only critics so far (probably fair)

Martin, sorry if we came across in a not-so-positive way 🙂. Please don't take it personally; I'm pretty certain it is the code that was being critiqued (and given that what you wrote was a tutorial, meaning others could learn from it and apply its principles, it's understandable that suggestions were made on how it could be improved). I promise you, this is a very friendly forum 🙂.

26 minutes ago, Gadgetto said:

Already thought that with my basic knowledge it was a bit too early to write a tutorial. 

Not necessarily, especially if you throw in a disclaimer in there. Many times it is about the journey, not the destination. Whereas you set out to write a tutorial, from where I stand, that in itself is only part of the story. The other part of the story is what you are unconsciously telling newbies. That story says, hey, look guys, I found this new toy and look at what I can already do with it 😉

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1 hour ago, Gadgetto said:

Thanks @kongondo, you are one of the first to say something  positive!

7 hours ago, bernhard said:

Thx for the tutorial!

In my head this (and also the hints regarding the flags) was positive 😉 

42 minutes ago, kongondo said:
1 hour ago, Gadgetto said:

Already thought that with my basic knowledge it was a bit too early to write a tutorial. 

Not necessarily, especially if you throw in a disclaimer in there. Many times it is about the journey, not the destination. Whereas you set out to write a tutorial, from where I stand, that in itself is only part of the story. The other part of the story is what you are unconsciously telling newbies. That story says, hey, look guys, I found this new toy and look at what I can already do with it 😉

Agree. That's what I like so much about the community. Throw in an idea and get valuable feedback instantly. There will also be times where you share something and get the hint that what you've done is already available in some way. At least that happened to me several times.

Nothing about that is negative. It's just holding up the quality of the forum and clarifying why your approach might be different and better for special situations.

 

I'd highly encourage you to continue writing tutorials. It will help you a lot and likely it will also help others. And nobody (here) knows everything. Except Ryan, of course 😉😄

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12 hours ago, bernhard said:

Actually this comment proves the problem with flags... for me the comment sounded weird at first sight (because reading "my" flag as "wrong" felt strange 😉 ), but actually that's exactly the problem with flags and it might be better to have a text-only version.

@bernhard  You're right, my comment really sounds a bit weird, and I apologize for that. (I became aware of that soon after having posted.)

Of course, if someone uses a flag to indicate the German language, it's not "wrong" to take the Austrian one and not the German one - both are equally suitable for this purpose, or unsuitable. Just because of a possible ambiguity of this kind they both are unsuitable - that's the point of my remark.

I also apologize to @Gadgetto: My intention was not to criticize, but to give some well-meant advice.

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Hey,

no one has to apologize for their criticism! I am very grateful for it and have learned something new again! Thanks all for your help!

I have revised the tutorial and hope that others can learn something too.

Greetings,
Martin

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Thank you @Gadgetto for taking our improvements into account and updating you tutorial.

However, I spotted a small error in your screencast/animation:

If the language is switched to english then the word "german" instead of "Deutsch" appears. As you wrote yourself in your tutorial, the language should be written in the language itself 😉

On 11/25/2018 at 5:38 PM, Gadgetto said:

! - this is important as your visitor should always see his language item ... in his language

I am happy to welcome another happy ProcessWire addict into our community 🙂

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@jmartsch you are right! -again ... 🙂

Corrected! This was the wrong attachment version. The forum software doesn't make it easy to exchange screenshots or to choose the right attachment. 

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On 11/26/2018 at 10:30 AM, Gadgetto said:

Already thought that with my basic knowledge it was a bit too early to write a tutorial. It was more a lesson for myself

I think it is amazing that you took to writing a tutorial for us this early in your involvement with the community.

Good job amigo 🙂

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3 minutes ago, OrganizedFellow said:

I think it is amazing that you took to writing a tutorial for us this early in your involvement with the community.

Good job amigo 🙂

Thank you for your kind words!:-)

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A huge thank you to @Gadgetto for this tutorial. This is my first time with multi-language, and Gadgetto provided the perfect tutorial for beginners such as myself to learn from. I worked my way through the tutorial and can attest it works beautifully and I could follow along without getting lost.

I now have a wonderful language switcher on my site AND the html lang tag AND the href lang alternate tags, all thanks to Gadgetto's great tutorial above. The screenshots were really helpful too. His code really should be a must-read for those making their first multi-language site. Thanks again! 😀

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Hey, thanks for your compliment! 😊

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