Drupal 8 multilingual tidbits 8: transliteration

Up to date as of October 16th, 2015.

We went through most of the great new base language features in Drupal 8, but one thing that was not yet covered is built-in transliteration support. Yes, you read that right. Drupal 8 includes a powerful backend system for transliteration and it even uses it for machine name generation on the frontend.

Here are a few examples on how Drupal prefills the machine name for a content type for a Hungarian, Czech and Marathi type respectively:

You don't even need to have language module enabled to use the transliteration services. However language specific transliteration patterns are supported, and the overrides are alterable. See for documentation on how to tap into this new API.

While this concludes the list of new base language features, that is only one of the language related modules in core. The tidbits are far from over! Excited about Drupal 8 yet?

Issues to work on

Thanks to the Drupal 8 multilingual team!

We just had a full-on week of sprinting in Dublin at Drupal Dev Days recently. I think we had the biggest group and have been actively recruiting more people as they came in. The photograph below shows people gathering for the initiative meeting we had in-person. Of course this is just a small part of the whole team, which is at last count over 800 people who participated on at least one issue!

John Heaven made a series of videos about what's exciting in Drupal 8 as well as where people made progress in Dublin (below) and what is still to be done (to be published). Looks like I am not the only one who noticed the great results of the team! I'm really proud of all the amazing things we moved forward from the entity translation API all through cron support for localization downloads, major improvements to the internals of configuration translation and removing eval() from locale module!

Drupal 8 is shaping up to be outstanding for multilingual sites! I can't wait.

Drupal 8 multilingual tidbits 7: blocks and views

Up to date as of October 16th, 2015.

Once you have detailed language information on content, configuration, etc, which is now widely possible in Drupal 8 (see the tidbit on language assignment), you can use this data to pull out content for specific languages.

Everything is in blocks now

While not a multilingual change, it is hugely useful for multilingual use cases that everything is in blocks now. The page title, branding, breadcrumbs, menus, navigation tabs, and so on. This make it possible to customize page content much easier using the blocks controls, effectively giving site builders all the powers around page content.

Block visibility

Brand new in Drupal 8 are language visibility conditions for blocks provided by Language module. This combined with everything being a block allows you to swap out menus per language or localize the branding of the site.

This option is made available if you have more than one configured language on your website. While prior versions of Drupal provided visibility settings based on user roles, content types, paths, etc. this is now expanded to languages too. Here you can pick specific languages, even multiple of them (applying in an or relation).

Drupal 8 multilingual tidbits 6: easier right to left styling

Up to date as of October 16th, 2015.

One of the strongly supported language features of Drupal is right to left (RTL) language support. For some Drupal core versions, introducing an RTL language on the site is easy. Language settings include the choice of left to right and right to left orientation per language. This is still the same in Drupal 8.

There are two notable improvements though. Language settings being at the front of the installer, we have clean support for right to left orientation from picking the install profile even:

Also, Drupal 6 and 7 had a special solution for writing right to left CSS. For any CSS file in the system (file.css), you could have an RTL counterpart (file-rtl.css) that was automatically added to the page when needed. This was a Drupalism and browsers got much better at supporting attribute selectors in the past years, so now the right to left CSS is all integrated in the actual CSS files. You should now use attribute selectors such as [dir="rtl"] to target specific parts of the CSS at RTL displays. By keeping the right to left styles close to the base CSS, there is less chance for mistakes and missing or out of sync RTL styling, so we hope this will result in even better RTL support!

See for more information and code examples.

Issues to work on

  • DONE! Ok, ok, I cheated a bit with the above screenshot. There is still a bug with the sidebar position of the installer in RTL. See - should be an easy one to fix though
  • One more thing that you may notice on the screenshot is that even English text got the RTL treatment in terms of the placement of the end of sentence period. This is not a very easy problem to resolve. An issue is going for over two years at to resolve this by printing additional language and direction information in this case, so the browser knows which parts are not in the (RTL) language requested. This would be useful for left to right settings also to mark the language of parts that are untranslated. Creative ideas welcome!
  • There still may be missing RTL styles, especially on the administration interface. See for a collection of issues dealing with the situation.

Drupal 8 multilingual tidbits 5: almost limitless language assignment

Up to date as of October 16th, 2015

As we touched on in the detection options tidbit and when talking about language configuration, the site default language used to be a very key (and higly dangerous to change) setting, because all the things that were in an unspecified language were assumed to be in that language. In Drupal 8, one of our most important goals was to make everything know its language as far and wide as possible.

Extensible special languages

Not everything can have a language even if it has a language property. Drupal 7 has one special language, Language neutral for these cases. This "language" is assigned to content which is not specifically in a language. People also used this to designate when the language was not known but some language needed to be assigned later. In Drupal 8, these two roles are separated into "Not applicable" and "Not specified" respectively. Also, these two special languages are stored as configuration with the other administrator configured languages (but are not shown on the configuration page to avoid confusion). Modules and distributions can add more special languages like these easily. These are locked (cannot be edited or removed), and when shown in a language list, they show after the manually configurable languages.