[Mediawiki-l] multilanguage in single project

Rob Church robchur at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 07:05:03 UTC 2007

On 04/04/07, Umidjon Rahmonberdiev <u.rahmonberdiev at cgiar.org> wrote:
> Is that possible to use Multilanguage feature in single wiki project, or it
> is a "must" to have a multiple wiki projects installed for every language
> used?

MediaWiki "out of the box" contains no special support for storing
content in multiple languages in the same wiki; it assumes that all
content is in the same language, although the user interface language
can be set according to users' preferences.

There are various schemes in use to provide varied content languages,
ranging from subpages (e.g. "Subject/en", "Subject/fr", etc.) and
different namespaces per language ("English:Subject",
"French:Subject") to the more usual choice, which is to establish
different logical wikis (separate databases, or different table
prefixes in the same database - the code itself can be shared to
reduce maintenance hassle), often on separate subdomains or in
different directories.

One example of using the "subpage" method can be found on our own web
site, MediaWiki.org, e.g. http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki
contains the main page in English; a navigation template (which uses
some parser function cleverness to determine which translations exist,
and so which links to show) at the bottom provides links to the same
page in other languages, e.g.
http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki/fr for the French version.

A classic example of the multiple databases, multiple subdomains
approach, of course, is the Wikimedia setup; the English Wikipedia,
for instance, is available at http://en.wikipedia.org, whereas the
French Wikipedia is at http://fr.wikipedia.org.

At this time, there are several variants of a "Multilang" extension
available, some of which work, some of which are experimental and
might not work at present. You could investigate these as a further
option, although I would discourage it as being a more complex route
from the point of view of editors. There are also some new extensions
regarding the language issue in Subversion, which might be worth
examining for useful functionality.

Overall, the exact method you choose really depends on what's best for
you (in terms of technical ability or availability, e.g. of a flexible
configuration for databases and subdomains, which typical
shared/commercial hosting packages often limit, not to mention
maintenance), as well as what you consider easiest to understand and
use for your editors and, of course, readers.

Rob Church

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