WordPress.org will soon support translations and language packs for themes hosted in the official directory. In Matt Mullenweg’s Q&A at WordCamp Europe 2015, he emphasized the importance of having better language support for themes and plugins and identified this as a high priority for continued improvements to WordPress.org.
Today the WordPress meta team announced that theme translations will soon be available on WordPress.org at translate.wordpress.org. Within the next few days or weeks, all active themes (those updated within the last two years) will have their strings imported.
“This will involve importing ~1500 themes, which, combined, have about 315,000 total strings,” Sam Sidler said in the announcement. “After duplicates, the number drops to only 80,000 unique strings.”
Language Packs Will Reduce Download Sizes for Themes
Sidler outlined several advantages for theme authors who opt to manage translations on WordPress.org, including the community’s large network of contributing translators who currently maintain 140 locales on translate.wordpress.org.
The most exciting change is that themes hosted on WordPress.org will soon be able to take advantage of language packs. Theme authors will have the option to remove translations from their zip file in favor of allowing WordPress.org to deliver the language packs, resulting in smaller download sizes.
“Eventually, we also plan to give priority to localized themes in localized directories; e.g., someone searching the Romanian theme directory will see Romanian themes prioritized over English-only themes,” Sidler said.
The more languages a theme can be translated into, the greater its prominence in WordPress’ language-specific theme directories. This should provide WordPress.org theme authors with a strong motivation to work with the polyglots team to get more translations. Theme authors can also request new translation editors to be added to polyglots, if they want to continue working with their own translators.
Those who prefer to ship their own translations can continue to do so. Keeping the translation files in your zip package will essentially opt you out of language packs for those specific translations. If you need help adding support for translations and language packs, Sidler recommends Otto’s Language Packs 101 tutorial in addition to the Theme Developer Handbook section on Internationalization.
This is a fantastic step forward, Sarah. Hurray for better multilingual support. If we could just persuade Matt about the importance of better multilingual support within core (so a site can be in multiple languages), those of us in Europe would be really, really happy.