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Multilingual user interface overview (SharePoint Server 2010)

SharePoint 2010

Published: July 8, 2010

This article discusses the new multilingual user interface feature in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. When language packs were installed on the server in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and you created a site collection or site, you could also select the language in which to display the site user interface. However, after the language for the user interface of a site was set, it could not be changed. The multilingual user interface feature introduces the concept of secondary, or preferred, languages. This feature is used to display the site user interface in a secondary language that the user prefers rather than the default, primary language that was selected when the site was created.

This article does not describe how to deploy the language packs that are required to use the multilingual user interface or how to configure site settings to enable users to set their preferred language. It also does not discuss how to plan for using the multilingual user interface in your site solution. For information about how to let individual users change the primary language that is used to display their site's user interface, see Make multiple languages available for your site's user interface on Office.com. For information about how to plan to use the multilingual user interface, see Plan for the multilingual user interface (SharePoint Server 2010).

In this article:

Use and benefits of the multilingual user interface

The multilingual user interface enables users to collaborate in a single site by using the secondary language that they prefer, regardless of which primary language was selected when the site was created. When you create a new site and language packs have been installed on the server, you can specify the primary language for the site. The site will use that primary language to display the site user interface, such as site navigation and administrative pages. If you want site users to be able to view the site user interface in a secondary language, you can specify which languages are available to users by using the Language Settings page. A user who is logged on to the site can use the Select Display Language option on the user menu to select a secondary language in which to display the site user interface. After the user selects a language, all sites within that domain name are displayed in the user's preferred language. However, this does not change the default, primary language of the site. Other users who view the site still see the site user interface displayed in the primary language. The site user interface is changed only for those users who have selected a different, secondary language in which to display the site.

By using the multilingual user interface, team members can work on documents and projects in a shared, primary language, while they view the site and perform tasks in their preferred language. In addition to team collaboration, the multilingual user interface enables farm and site administrators to perform administrative tasks in their preferred language. For example, farm administrators can configure the Central Administration Web site so that the administrative links and instructions are displayed in their preferred language.

note Note:

The multilingual user interface only displays site user interface elements in another language. It does not perform translation or display content such as documents or list items in another language. SharePoint Server 2010 provides three methods that you can use to translate certain application content, such as list or library titles and descriptions: by using the user interface, by exporting and importing translations for a site, and by using the object model.

In addition to letting users configure the language in which a site is displayed, the multilingual user interface also enables users to change new and existing application content — such as list or library titles and descriptions — and it enables users to have those changes be reflected in the user interface for other users of other languages. For example, a team member who uses English as the preferred language creates a new document library named "Team Reports." Another team member, who has the preferred language set to German, logs on to the site and changes the library title to "Mannschaftsberichte." The next time that a user who has the preferred language set to German logs on to the site, the name of the document library is displayed as "Mannschaftsberichte." However, a user who has the preferred language set to English still sees the document library name displayed as "Team Reports."

How the multilingual user interface works

By default, when a new site is created, it is created in the default, primary language of the SharePoint Server 2010 installation on the server. A farm administrator must install language packs on the server before sites can be created in languages other than the default, primary language. For more information, see Deploy language packs (SharePoint Server 2010).

After language packs have been installed on the server, the Language Settings link is added to the Site Settings page. Site administrators use the Language Settings page to specify which secondary languages the site will support. After the site administrator has enabled secondary languages for a site, users can log on to the site and use the Select Display Language option on the user menu to change the language that is displayed when they browse to any page in the site collection. When a user changes the display language of a page, the new display language becomes the user's preferred language for the whole site collection.

SharePoint Server 2010 selects the language in which to display pages of a site collection by using the first rule that applies from the following list:

  1. Does the user have a preferred language for this site collection on this computer? If so, use the user's preferred language.

  2. Is the language preference that is specified in the Web browser one of the supported languages for the page? If so, use the preferred language of the browser.

  3. Otherwise, use the default, primary language for the site collection.

SharePoint Server 2010 provides three methods that you can use to modify certain application content, such as list or library titles and descriptions: by using the user interface, by exporting and importing translations for a site, and by using the SPUserResource class in the Microsoft.SharePoint namespace. Not all user interface elements can be changed directly in the user interface. For example, user actions and commands can be changed only by using the SPUserResource class. For more information, see SPUserResource class.

What is supported by the multilingual user interface

When a user views a site in a secondary, preferred language, certain elements of the user interface are displayed in the preferred language. Generally speaking, most user interface elements can be displayed in the secondary, preferred language, but user-created content cannot be. The following list includes examples of items that are supported by the multilingual user interface:

  • Settings pages, such as those in the _layouts and the _admin virtual directories.

  • Help.

  • Application content, such as menus, controls, site actions, site title and description, list or library titles and descriptions, top link bar links, Quick Launch links, local breadcrumbs, site and list content types, and site and list columns.

  • Developer content, such as features, and solutions.

However, not all user interface elements are displayed in the secondary, preferred language. The following list includes examples of items that are not supported by the multilingual user interface:

  • Web Parts (except those that are linked to lists or libraries).

  • Global breadcrumbs.

  • User created content, such as list item data, documents and Web pages in libraries, custom permissions levels, groups, views, and Web Parts.

Although most site templates are supported by the multilingual user interface, the following site templates are not supported:

  • The Blog template.

  • Any of the meeting workspace templates.

  • Any of the Web database templates.

For more detailed information about the user interface elements that are not supported by the multilingual user interface feature, see Limitations of the multilingual user interface, later in this article.

Adding and modifying application content

A user can add or modify application content, such as list titles or column names and descriptions, in one of two ways: by adding or modifying content in the primary language or by adding or modifying content in one or more secondary languages.

When a user views a site by using the primary language of the site, any new application content that is created is displayed in the primary language, even when the site is viewed in a secondary language. For example, if the primary language for a site is English, when a user views the site in the primary language and creates a new document library called "Team Documents," the library title is still displayed as "Team Documents" when a user views the site in any secondary language.

When a user views a site by using a secondary language, any new application content that the user creates is displayed in that language even when the site is viewed in the primary language or in any other secondary language. For example, if the primary language for a site is English, and a user views the site in German and adds a document library called "Mannschaftsdokumente," the library title is displayed as "Mannschaftsdokumente" even when the site is viewed in English. To translate application content such as a document library title into the primary language or into other secondary languages, the user must first configure the user preferences to display the site in the language for which he or she wants to make the change, and then make the change to the user interface.

The Language Settings page contains an Overwrite Translations option that affects how changes to existing application content are made to other languages for the site. If the Overwrite Translations option is enabled, any changes that are made to the user interface in the primary language overwrite any changes that have been made to those same user interface elements in secondary languages.

By default, when a user views a site by using the primary language of the site, any changes that are made to existing application content are changed for the primary language only. The strings that are associated with specific application content in the secondary languages remain unchanged. However, if the Overwrite Translations option is enabled, the strings that are associated with that application content for every language are replaced with the new primary language string. For example, if the primary language for a site is English and a user changes the title of the "Shared Documents" library to "Team Documents," by default, the title is changed only for the primary language of the site. However, if the Overwrite Translations option is enabled, the title is changed to "Team Documents" for every secondary language, and it must be retranslated.

When a site is displayed in a user's secondary, preferred language, any changes that are made to existing application content are changed for that language only. The strings that are associated with specific application content in the primary language and other secondary languages remain unchanged. To translate application content such as a document library title into the primary language or into other secondary languages, the user must change the user preferences to display the site in the primary or secondary language and then make the change to the user interface.

Exporting and importing translated content

The multilingual user interface feature lets you export and import application content for bulk translation. Instead of translating application content one item at a time, you can export the strings for any new or modified application content in the primary language or in one of the secondary languages. To export content, you use the Export Translations link on the Site Settings page. When you export application content for a secondary language, you can decide to export all content or only content that has not been translated.

When the application content is exported, it is saved as a .resx file, which can be opened by using a text editor or any third-party tool that can open resource files. For more information, see Resources in .Resx File Format. After the resource strings have been translated, you use the Import Translations link on the Site Settings page to import the .resx file.

Using the multilingual user interface with managed metadata

You can create multilingual managed metadata for use with a SharePoint Server 2010 solution. By using the Term Store Management Tool, you can create a term set and associate multiple labels, one for each language that you want to support, with each term in the set. When a user reconfigures the preferred language for a site, the terms are displayed by using the labels that correspond to the preferred language. For more information about how to use multilingual managed metadata with a site, see Multilingual term sets (SharePoint Server 2010).

Limitations of the multilingual user interface

As mentioned previously, some user interface elements are not MUI-enabled — that is, they are not supported by the multilingual user interface. This section describes additional limitations that apply when you use the multilingual user interface with shared components and site templates.

Shared components

Shared components — such as Web Parts, lists, and permissions — appear across all site templates. Their functionality is centrally defined, and their behavior is consistent regardless of the site template in which they appear.

Web Parts

The titles and descriptions are MUI-enabled only for list-based Web Parts. For example, the title and description for Web Parts that display list and library data, such as Announcements and Shared Documents, are displayed in a user's preferred language. By contrast, the title and description for other Web Parts, such as the Content Editor and the Content Query Web Parts, are displayed only in the primary site language. The following properties and features of non-list-based Web Parts are not MUI-enabled. They are always displayed in the language in which they were created.

  • Titles   This includes default Web Part titles and any titles that the user edited after the site was created.

  • Descriptions   This includes default Web Part descriptions and any descriptions that the user edited after the site was created

  • Custom properties   Any custom Web Part properties that are created or edited by the user remain in the language in which they were created.

  • Import error message    The default value of this error message is always displayed in the primary site language. If a user has created a custom error message, that error message is always displayed in the language in which it was created.

Lists

List views and list items are not MUI-enabled. These user interface elements will continue to display the values that were entered when they were created, regardless of the preferred language selected by the user.

Links to list titles in the Quick Launch and the top link bar menu will continue to display the values that were entered when the lists were created. Although the Quick Launch and the top link bar menu are MUI-enabled, the list titles that they display are independent of the actual list titles. To work around this issue, the user must edit the list title for the Quick Launch and the top link bar menu. For information about how to edit the Quick Launch link item, see Edit, move, or delete a Quick Launch link (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=208207) in "Configure the Quick Launch for site navigation" on Office.com. For information about how to edit the top link bar, see Add, edit or remove a link from the top link bar (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=208208) in "Configure the top link bar for site navigation" on Office.com.

Permissions

The following properties and features of permissions are not MUI-enabled; they are always displayed in the primary site language or the language in which they were created:

  • Permission group names   These include default permission group names and any custom permission groups that were created by a user.

  • Permission level names and descriptions   These include default permissions levels and any custom permission levels that were created or changed by a user.

  • User information   User information such as About Me, Title, and Department.

Site templates

This section describes the limitations of the multilingual user interface for site templates in SharePoint Server 2010. The majority of these limitations are caused by the limitations of their shared site components such as Web Parts, lists, and permissions. The following multilingual user interface limitations apply to specific templates, because of their specialized nature or custom layout.

My Site

The following My Site properties and features are not MUI-enabled, and are always displayed in the primary site language:

  1. Web Parts   Web Part titles, descriptions, custom properties, and import error messages.

  2. User-generated content   List items, discussions, notes, comments, documents, and HTML content.

Blogs

The Blog site template includes many Web Parts and user-generated content, which are not MUI-enabled. If additional display languages are enabled on the Blog site settings page, an error message will be displayed.

Meeting sites

Meeting site templates include many Web Parts and user-generated content, which are not MUI-enabled. If additional display languages are enabled on the site settings page for any meeting site template, an error message will be displayed.

Search

The Search site uses features in addition to the Search Web Part and Search Site Templates. Many of the Search site limitations are not actually related to multilingual user interface features, but are architectural designs that affect the user interface. The following limitations are a mix of multilingual user interface and architectural limitations for Search sites:

  • Search   Search indexes content in the primary language of the SharePoint Server installation. Even if content is provided in secondary languages, that content is only searchable by using the primary language of the site. For example, if your secondary, preferred language is German, but the primary language for the site is English, a search for "Freigegebene Dokumente" returns no results. However, a search for "Shared Documents" does return results.

  • Search Web Part properties   Title, description and custom properties are not MUI-enabled. The default search prompt for the search box will be displayed in a different language when the user changes their secondary, preferred language. However, if this prompt is customized, its customized value will be displayed for all languages.

  • Refinement Panel Web Part   The Refinement Panel Web Part is not MUI-enabled. Term store labels that are displayed in the Refinement Panel Web Part are always displayed in the primary language of the site. For example, if your secondary, preferred language is Italian, but the primary language for the site is English, and you have a document that uses term store labels that contain values for both languages, the Refinement Panel Web Part will display only the English label.

Web databases

Only the Options menu and the Open Menu are MUI-enabled for Web database sites. Database section tabs correspond to different views for the database, and the labels for these tabs are always displayed in the primary site language. Database content is user-generated content and will always be displayed in the language in which it was originally created.

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