WPGlobus Plugin Adds a Language Switcher to WordPress

Last week WPGlobus 1.0 beta was released on WordPress.org. The plugin offers an interesting new attempt at providing multi-language support for WordPress sites. WPGlobus allows you to configure a set of available languages and adds a dropdown language switcher to the frontend via a custom menu.

wpglobulus-language-switcher

The development team behind WPGlobus is led by WordPress developer Gregory Karpinsky. He designed the tool to be used on bilingual/multilingual WordPress sites. To be clear, the plugin does not provide translations, but rather allows you to create your own translations for pages and posts in the admin.

Karpinsky quotes the venerable Capt. O.B.Vious in his reasoning behind creating the plugin: “People are a lot more likely to interact with your website if it is available in their own language.” WPGlobus was designed to make it easy for anyone to add a language switcher to their site without too much hassle.

The current version of the plugin offers the following feature highlights:

  • Add multiple languages and countries to your site.
  • Translate posts, pages, categories, tags and menus using a clean and simple interface.
  • Switch languages at the front end using a dropdown menu with language names and country flags.
  • Supports the WP-SEO titles and descriptions in multiple languages

The first step in using the plugin is to select the languages you want to be available in the frontend dropdown. WPGlobus offers different ways to customize the way the languages appear in the menu and comes with flag images pre-installed for each language. The images are also customizable, should you wish to add your own or define custom combinations of country flags and language abbreviations.

wpglobulus-admin-settings

If you have a relatively small website that is quick to translate, you can paste translations for other languages directly into WPGlobus’ tabbed interface in the post editor.

wpglobulus-editor

The frontend dropdown menu allows visitors to switch between languages and displays them by changing the URL (/{language}/page/).

In its current state, WPGlobus was designed for simple, static sites. For example, it could be useful for an event where attendees speak a handful of different languages. In this instance, the event staff can easily translate event details on the various pages to provide information for attendees in their own languages.

For large sites and blogs, an expanded version of WPGlobus is in the works, which would integrate with multilingual plugins, such as WPML, qTranslate, or Polylang. Further down the road, Karpinsky hopes to integrate functionality that will assist e-commerce vendors:

When it comes to e-Commerce, additional challenges may arise. The Buyer, the Seller and the Site Administrator may all speak different languages. A user may have a non-trivial combination of residence, language and currency. Some countries are multilingual, so clicking on a country flag is not always enough. WPGlobus attempts to solve those problems. It’s a long way down the road but we are full of energy and optimism.

At the moment, the plugin is suitable for WordPress administrators who want to make their sites more global and are willing to provide their own translations. WPGlobus is available from WordPress.org. I tested the plugin, and, although it’s still technically in beta, it works as advertised for providing your own translations on a small website.

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25 Comments


  1. The screenshots make this look like a great plugin! WordPress definitely needs more competition and innovation in the translation plugins.

    I’m disappointed to seeing these plugins continue using flags to represent languages when that doesn’t work for so many reasons:

    1. People speak the same language in different countries.
    2. Many flags are the language of the former colonial oppressor.
    3. Flags ignores differing dialects (e.g. British English/American English).

    This is an old and well-known issue. It’s so common that it’s the name of a blog! http://flagsarenotlanguages.com/blog/why-flags-do-not-represent-language/

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    1. No reason to be disappointed. The flags are a starting point – you can upload your own images to use instead if you want. That’s already built into the beta.

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      1. Since they’re still in beta, maybe it’s a bit early to be disappointed, but I certainly hope that they remove them completely.

        The idea is fundamentally problematic so providing flags AT ALL but especially as the default is a big mistake. The power of defaults cannot really be overstated. Other than flags, I’m not sure what images I would even use. Country outlines?

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      2. Yes, @MRWweb, here in Canada, we know the problem of having one flag and two official languages :-). The very first post on WPGlobus.com, quoted by Sarah Gooding above, said exactly that:

        > A user may have a non-trivial combination of residence, language and currency. Some countries are multilingual, so clicking on a country flag is not always enough.

        Country outlines? I would probably recognize Italy and New Zealand :-) And Russia won’t fit into any icon :-)))

        Jokes aside, after working on a big e-commerce global sites, we had it enough: one of our largest projects had content and currencies for en_US/CA/GB/AU, fr_FR/CA, de_…. es_… you name it. And, as you can imagine, we had to deal with “almost the same” French in France and Quebec, but different currencies and different pricing models for Europe and North America.

        We are working hard on the “Ideal Globalization System”. Living in the real world, we have to publish a “Far From Being Ideal Plugin”. We need something to start with, and we believe that WPGlobus, even as it is today, is a good start. It’s compact comparing to the competition, works much faster and will serve us as a good basis for the future development.

        Your comments are highly appreciated, please post more!

        Thank you!
        The WPGlobus Team

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  2. It is definitely always great to see new plugins where the UI is nicely done, and also when other plugins in the same category already exists. Competition and more choices are good.
    However, I would like to know how WPGlobus differs from the other well-established multilingual plugins, WPML, Polylang, qTranslate, Babble?. What makes it stand out compared to these ones?
    I assume that the developers behind WPGlobus think that there is a market/user base yet to be “conquered” when an expanded (premium?) version of the plugin is in the works.

    On the same note, I really hope that multilingual functionality will be part of WordPress Core. It looks like we slowly going there with the site language-switcher.

    Hopefully, just hopefully, one day it will be possible to install a WordPress site and immediately take advantage of multilingual emojis.

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    1. Yes Joachim, we also believe that fair competition is what makes the Globe spinning :-)
      There are three models of localization: copy and link the posts, pseudo-serialization and linked multisites. All are great and will continue to live and probably will never get to the WP core. We have plans to go beyond the translation, and the WPGlobus that you see today is just the base for our future development. Please stay tuned!
      Thank you!

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  3. Not sure what new features WPGlobus brings. At first glance it looks like it offers a translation solution similar to what qTranslate did (past tense because qTranslate does not seem to be supported anymore) but that plugin was a lot heavier (made very slow response times!) than the newer Polylang. Polylang allows to create different posts and assign them each a language, which is inherently faster than using one post to hold multiple language versions. And there are other disadvantages… What’s the interest of reverting to this old approach? In fact, what is the interest of adding another competitor to the list at all while so many translation plugins keep dying because of fragmented support, depending on one developer or a too small community? Why not collaborate and contribute to the best one(s) out there? The global WP community would benefit much more from one or two continuous projects than from well meant but small initiatives popping up and dropping off again all the time.

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    1. Yes @RAvanH, if would be nice to have everyone working on the same plugin. Or better – let’s all work together and make it all to the Core! Meantime, we believe that WPGlobus will find its place. New features are coming soon…

      P.S. qT is alive under a slightly modified name
      P.P.S. The fun starts at eCommerce, with thousands of products. Would you like to have every product multiplied in your database? We tried. :-(

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    2. I guess having separate post/page per language is a bit safer in terms of lock-in (same with multi site), if you disable plugin, you just have bunch of posts that you can organize in other ways, what would happen if one would disable WPGlobus?

      Also it would be interesting to see comparison with other plugins in terms of queries generated and load times.

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      1. You are right, Tomas, disabling WPGlobus (in its current version) would leave the site in a “mixed-language” state. In our backlog, there is a “clean-up” procedure. We did not decide yet on the details: if we simply keep only one language, all the rest is gone? A safer way would be creating new posts/pages for every language, but that’s quite a project…

        There is a chance that other plugins would write conversion routines. For example, WPGlobus support qTranslate language tags, so if you want to switch from qT to WPG – the transition should be quite smooth.

        As for the queries generated, WPGlobus does not generate any. No additional tables, no extra metas. Just PHP code, which we try to optimize for maximum speed.

        Thank you!
        The WPGlobus Team

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  4. We need to encourage the developer and suggest some ideas, here most of commentators critic the developer, does not seem good idea. Its still on beta.

    Thanks for the great effort The WPGlobus Team.

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    1. Thank you very much, @WPDIV!

      We appreciate every comment, positive and negative. Constructive critic is very useful, and WP community is known for great support of everything open-sourced.

      Big Thanks to everyone!

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  5. This is awesome! Neil Patel JUST did a write-up on the effect of enabling multi language support. Check it out on his blog. I’m going to jump on this ASAP!

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    1. Yes @Matt, having people from six countries in our team, we know the multilingual problems very well, and not only on WP…
      Thanks for your comment!

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  6. Well after working with WPML on a ecommerce site, I can only tell you that I’m VERY very happy to hear this news! WPML is just too slow on ecommerce sites, and polylang doesn’t support it. Can’t wait till a version with woocommerce support comes out.

    Great work guys! This news makes my day :)

    I hope you can manage to keep the Admin area fast as well as the frontend. Something WPML is severely missing..

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  7. Exactly right, @marcoevich! WPML and Polylang are great plugins, but we sincerely believe that out approach will work better for e-Commerce.
    We already have a working prototype on a couple of WooCommerce-based sites. Works fine, but not ready for the prime time yet. Hope to publish it soon.
    Thank you!
    Greg@WPGlobus

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  8. I wonder if there’s a way to make this work from one site to another – for example a current primary domain subdomain in Spanish? It would be great to be able to more easily link the pages. Especially if a client wants a full site available in their language and in another language.

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    1. Hello Katrina,

      WPGlobus is not for linking subdomains. There are other plugins for doing that, using WP multisite.

      There are pros and cons for both. We believe in easier maintenance and better SEO results having multiple languages within one site, especially for large e-commerce sites.

      Thank you for your question!

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  9. I’m really fascinated with the plugin! Even though it is still in beta, I guess it can already make some great changes for a website. Having a multilingual page can certainly give a huge impact for me as I was thinking of creating a website that could be possibly viewed and read globally as what I’ve read here http://www.lionleaf.com/blog/should-you-make-your-site-multi-lingual/.

    Are there any disadvantages with creating a multilingual website?

    Hope there’s none, thanks in advance!
    Henry

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    1. Hi Henry,

      With some very rare exceptions, we all live in a “Globalized” world these days. Here, in Toronto, when you drive along the Yonge street (people say it’s the longest street in the World), you see shops, restaurants, services, etc. – in every language you can imagine! And that’s in addition to the two official languages of Canada – English and French.

      So, why should a website offer only a single language? Of course, not! Whenever it’s possible to translate the pages – do it. Your site visitors will be more than happy!

      We appreciate your interest in our plugin, Henry!

      Sincerely,
      The WPGlobus Team

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  10. Hi,

    Thank you for this plugin. Does somebody know how to translate page description with wpglobus ? When I fill the description page input (in the right column of edit page), and save, my description is used for all languages. Is there a way to have different page description for each language ?

    Thank you in advance,
    Nicolas

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    1. Hi Nicolas,
      Where did that “page description” come from? Is that a part of your theme or some plugin?

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      1. Hi Gregory,

        Thank you for your reply (very fast !!!). You are right, I realized that the page description field is a custom input from the theme…
        I used “{:en} english page description {:} {:fr} french page description{:}” inside but it doesn’t seem to work. Only the english part is displayed for both languages.
        So, I tried to force the translation in the theme html, by adding WPGlobus_Core::text_filter($page_desc); instead of
        $page_desc. But it doesn’t work, only the english part is displayed. Is there a good practice about this ?

        Thank you in advance.

        Nicolas

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      2. Hi Nicolas,

        Do not use WPGlobus methods directly. Instead, echo apply_filters( ‘the_content’, …) or ‘the_title’

        P.S. It’s better if you submit those questions on WordPress.org’s “Support” forum of the WPGlobus. It might help other people who use the plugin.

        Thanks
        — GK

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  11. Ok, i found a work around here’s the solution in the above problem, in the menu.php replace the entire function:
    function display_element

    WITH:

    function display_element( $element, &$children_elements, $max_depth, $depth=0, $args, &$output ) {
    if ( !$element )
    return;

    $id_field = $this->db_fields[‘id’];
    if( ! empty( $children_elements[$element->$id_field] ) )
    foreach( $children_elements[$element->$id_field] as $row => $val ){
    array_push($val->classes,’has_sublevel’);
    }
    //array_push($element->classes,’has_sublevel’);

    parent::display_element( $element, $children_elements, $max_depth, $depth, $args, $output );
    }

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