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Create, relate and manage content in multiple languages in Plone!

Project description

This add-on provides support for content in multiple languages (multilingual). It’s compatible with Plone 4.2 or better with Dexterity content only.

Skip to history to learn about other add-ons that provide a similar functionality.

Found a bug? Please use the issue tracker.


To make a content type multilingual-aware, enable the “Multilingual” behavior using the control panel.

The primary interaction is through a new translate menu which is available for content items for which the behavior is enabled.

The translate menu lists each of the supported languages and links to either the default view (if already translated), or an add form.

If a language folder (see below) does not exist for the chosen language, the user will first be prompted to create one, using the “Setup language folder” form. In most cases, the user can click straight through to the add form: sensible form defaults are provided.

Plone in multiple languages

Out of the box, Plone supports a language setup where language in the default language lives in the root:

/default content

This is also the root for language-neutral content. For other languages, content in this setup lives in:

/<language-id>/content in other language

The language id is the two-letter country code. For instance, for Denmark this is "da".

We’ll call these language folders. Plone can be set up to automatically change the language of the entire user interface to that of the language folder when the user visits a page contained below it.

Setting up a language folder

You can either set up language folders manually, or use the “Setup language folder” form which is shown when you try to add a translation for a content in a language for which a language folder does not exist.

In both cases, you can use any content type which is a “container” (it can contain other items). This is typically a folder. The most common container type will be suggested by the “Setup language folder” form.

Note that a language folder is a navigation root. The INavigationRoot interface is automatically added as a marker interface to signal this to Plone’s user interface. In practical terms, this means for instance that the navigation portlet will use the language folder as the “root” content item.

Translation of default pages

In Plone, a default page can be selected for a container in which case the page is shown instead of the container as the default view.

Since Plone’s user interface shows a single interface for the composition of a container and a default page, we require that the container is translated before the default page.

The translation relationship

The data structure that records the translation relationship between content is a directed acyclic graph:

Every vertex is a content item, and edges are a translation from one language to another. For example, original content in English might first be translated into German, and then from this translation, into French. This would be a graph with three vertices and two edges.

In the content model, this is implemented as the translations set relation where the UUID (universally unique identifier) is used as the content item reference value.

Plone comes with a behavior that adds a language setting to content items, and this behavior must be enabled in order to translate content.


The interface ITranslationGraph provides a view into the translation graph for a context that provides the IMultilingual interface (implemented by the “Multilingual” behavior).

For each content object (this will be referred to in the following as the context) We can turn the graph into a mapping from language ids to content objects, each of which is the context in some translation:

>>> graph = ITranslationGraph(context)
>>> translations = graph.getTranslations()

The translations returned are a list of (language_id, content) which we can pass to the dict constructor to turn it into a mapping object. Note that context is omitted.

>>> mapping = dict(translations)

For some applications, we want to establish a relation for each of the supported languages to allow a user or visitor to get to the nearest content object appearing in a supported language of choice. In this situation, nearest will be defined as the closest ancestor translation:

>>> nearest = graph.getNearestTranslations()

The nearest mapping is used to generate the “Translate” menu that let’s a contributor or editor navigate between the different translations of a content object.

It’s also used in the language selection viewlet which appears in Plone when cookie-based language selection is enabled (see the language tool for more information).


In 2004, Jarn (formerly Plone Solutions) released LinguaPlone which, although still compatible with recent Plone releases, is now in legacy status. It’s recommended that you use this package if you have Archetypes content only.

In 2005, Ramon Navarro Bosch <> organized a sprint in Girona on the subject of multilingual content in Plone. The idea was to take advantage of the component architecture (i.e. zope.interface and zope.component) from the Zope Toolkit to model an architecture that could realistically support the diverse requirements for multilingual content. The implementation of this architecture has been an on-going process, but as of this writing, beta releases are available for testing. The (or PAM) pulls in the required dependencies.

Note that PAM supports both Archetypes and Dexterity content. It also tries to provide the user experience from LinguaPlone so that users familiar with this add-on from previous versions of Plone will quickly be able to use it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does collective.multilingual compare to plone.multilingual?

This add-on is a brand new implementation. It’s an alternative to the existing solutions.

The most important difference is that collective.multilingual is built for Plone 4. It fully benefits from the new features included in this release.

The newer platform arguably makes the implementation simple, and this is not just a good thing, it also makes it much easier to maintain the software as a community.

There’s another key difference: less features. There is no compare view, and no integration with external translation tools. It’s not that we don’t want to be “feature complete”, but some of these features are already provided by the web browser and it’s not necessarily a good thing to try and implement these in Plone.

In short, if you’re not using the Archetypes content type framework (and you really shouldn’t be, if you have a choice), then collective.multilingual is probably going to work well.

What’s a canonical item?

This is an item that you have created using Plone’s add menu and which has been translated into one or more languages.

Must I set a language for my content?

No. If you don’t set the language field, the language is considered neutral. At any given time, this effectively means the site’s default language.

Can I have language-independent fields?

Yes. You can set a value of True for the tagged value "plone.autoform.languageindependent" or use the included utility function:

from collective.multilingual.interfaces import setLanguageIndependent
from import IDublinCore


This is not just an example. These fields are actually set as language-independent.

Note that when a field is language-independent, changes are copied into all the content items in the corresponding translation graph.

What’s the language of newly created content?

There’s a setting in Plone which decides whether this is unset (neutral), or set to the language which is currently the default.

If content is created using the translate menu, then the language form default will be provided automatically.


1.0.1 (2016-03-30)

  • Fix issue where a widget that was updated multiple times would result in a circular translation reference. [malthe]

  • Fix issue where translating _into_ the default language would ignore translated parents and place the new translation in the site root. [tmog]

  • Always show “Clear…” and “This is a translation of…” menu items for context, even if context is a default page. [tmog]

  • check to make sure we do not add multiple translations for one language. Even if one is neutral and the other is not. [tmog]

  • Initial public release.

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