Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Multilingual MOSS

I investigated MOSS variants briefly in the Beta days but the language packs weren't out so I never had a chance to really play with them, until today.

I'm still learning about the feature set but I hope these instructions will help other people who need to setup or manage multilingual SharePoint portals.

Installing SharePoint Language Packs

To install the MOSS language kits:

  1. Change the Regional settings of your Web Front End, Query, and Index servers to support the additional languages by going to Control Panel > Regional and Language Option and adding the languages you intend to support.
  2. Download the MOSS language packs (make sure you pick the correct language from the drop-down list first!). The URL is http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=2447426b-8689-4768-bff0-cbb511599a45&DisplayLang=en
  3. Install this on your MOSS server.
  4. The installation, when complete, will prompt you to run the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration wizard. Do not change any of the settings and click "Do not disconnect from this server farm" if you see that option.
  5. All languages are installed in \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\template\[number of the language, eg 1033 is English)

Testing The Variants

To test the variants functionality I have installed the French language pack and set up variants for English (Canada) and French (Canada).

  1. In your portal create a new site using the Publishing or Publishing Site with Workflow site template
  2. Go to the site collection and in Site Actions > All Site Settings, click "Variations"
  3. Browse to your publishing site (normally this will probably be your root publishing site, but this could be anywhere in your site collection). Leave the defaults and click OK.
  4. Go back to Site Actions > All Site Settings and click Variation Labels
  5. Create a variant label called en-CA and make it the source. Choose Publishing Site with Workflow.
  6. Variant Labels Create a new variant label called fr-CA, with display of French (Canada) and culture French (Canada).
  7. Go back to the list of labels (you should see both) and click "Create Hierarchies".All Variant Labels - Hierarchy Created
  8. Now the hierarchy will be set so en-CA is our source and fr-CA is our target.

Now we need to start modifying content and seeing how the variants work in practice.

  1. In Central Admin, there is a Variations Propagate Page Job Definition and Variations Propagate Site Job Definition that will run to publish any changes.
  2. Go to the publishing source site and edit some content and publish it with approval. A reminder will tell you to check for unpublished items, if you forget.
  3. After the content is published and approved, and the variation job has kicked in (usually a minute or two) the content will appear in your variant sites. You will still have to modify, translate, and approve those as normal.

Browser settings

When you visit a variant site in MOSS, the browser will try to default to your preferred language if it can detect it. You can experiment by adding a new French (France) (FR) variant  label  (in addition to the French (Canada) one) and then  adding French (France) and French (Canada) (FR-CA) to your internet browser's languages list.

Browsing to the root translation site will cause it to pick which label to use - if I put the France language first in my browser list of preferred languages, it will bypass the FR-CA site and show me the FR variant instead.


  1. If you create subsites, they have to be publishing sites to preserve this language ability. If you make a team subsite for instance it won't handle the variants for you.
  2. If you add new language labels later on, you have to create hierarchies again.
  3. If you add a new language variant, it doesn't seem to pick up the existing content, so you might have to "force" the update by modifying the source content again, even if it's just to update it with no changes - so if you are going to use variants plan ahead and try not to add language packs over time!
  4. If you update the source content, it seems to overwrite the target translations (although a version will be saved for them). This is a big GOTCHA!
  5. The use of publishing approval workflows is a very good idea because this kind of content translation usually requires some level of publishing oversight. However if you're testing variants in development it can involve a lot of clicking and approving, and sometimes it's easy to forget to approve content.

Are any of you using this in production? What do you like about the system, what gotchas have you found, what tips and tricks have you come up with?


  1. Hi Nick,

    There are rather a lot of gotchas with variations... I personally won't be using them again until they get a lot less flaky :-s This and the posts it refers to cover a lot of what I've experienced.


    And this... http://blogs.msdn.com/maximeb/archive/2007/10/27/missing-content-types-association-with-variations-an-stsadm-extension-solution.aspx

  2. Hi Gillian, thanks for those links! It looks like it's not quite ready for prime time yet. May I ask, if you aren't using variants to manage languages, are you manually creating and managing the sites in different languages, or using some other tool, or custom code?

  3. yeah! i'm searching since a long time your post, thanks ;)

  4. hi ..
    Publishing a page in the variation source overwrites all values in the other labels...but my requirement is the source data should be added to the label data..........
    how can i do this?

  5. not overrite the label data...it should add ti the label data

  6. Hello,

    Please have a look at our multilingual solution:



  7. Thanks.
    This is a very useful post.
    I recently implemented it successfully.

    Also considering the limitations of variations,we need to decide whether to use them in production or not.


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