Theme Translations and Language Packs are Coming to WordPress.org

photo credit: . Entrer dans le rêve - cc
photo credit: . Entrer dans le rêvecc

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.

15 Comments


  1. 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.

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  2. This is excellent news for WordPress. I hope that the WordPress meta team will consider opening this to all themes, including those not coming from wordpress.org. This will help connect more authors to the official themes team and help end-users run non-English sites.

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  3. This is a huge step for globalisation (localisation, internationalisation) of WordPress themes and plugins. This has been in the planning for at least four years.

    But why confuse this with mulitlingual? I regard multilingual to deal with content, not the software being localised. Am I wrong?

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    1. You’re not wrong. They are two wholly separate things, with different problems between them.

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    2. This will help all WordPress sites that run in a language other than English. By definition, every multilingual site falls into this category. You can’t have a site with two Englishes :-)

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      1. No one has made those. I have considered creating an en_NZ language pack, but it would have only have a few words which are different from en_UK, yet I’d need to maintain a whole ton of strings. Without any automated way to handle that, I haven’t been willing to put the effort into to doing it. I suspect others feel the same.

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      2. Ryan, what would be the changes in wording? Just curious.

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  4. I wonder how this will work with multi-lingual countries. Canada for example has two official languages (english/french).

    Other countries as well.

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    1. There is both en_CA and fr_CA. Check out the big list on translate.wordpress.org.

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  5. What I would love to see is this being rolled out to the plugin world as well eventually.

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