Based on your organization’s business and technical requirements, you may require multilingual SharePoint capabilities. I have been a part of a large number of these efforts, and the new capabilities of SharePoint 2013 and Office 365’s SharePoint Online have made this task much easier on the project team and put the level of measurable success within your reach.

Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about SharePoint multilingual capabilities:

  • A lot of organizations, for example, state that they support “English only” within their SharePoint environments but have custom site collections pop-up at times with language packs or custom deployments in other languages to support specific locations.
  • The new Multiple Language Interface (MLI) in essence tells a specific site's interface to be available and utilize a specific language pack. This feature changes elements such as titles, navigation elements, and menus, but any embedded “custom text” or content does not automatically change to the specified language.You can think of this content as being in “a container of its own” and outside of the feature set, so it is important to keep this in mind in your planning.
  • Variations is the feature that makes multilingual sites possible and is available for publishing sites; it creates a duplicate copy of the site and updates it into the specified variation language when it is published and translated.
  • You will need to install at least a few core language packs for the languages your organization wishes to support. There are over 40 available language packs for SharePoint 2013, as listed in the table below.
  • Although you may not think you will need to utilize other language packs, there may be documents that are emailed or uploaded to SharePoint from partners, clients, or team members that have other languages embedded in them or were possibly created from a template set in another language and this can cause search to not properly return search results for this content.

With that in mind, EPC Group recommends that you install the following language packs within your implementation:

  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish

The table below shows which language packs are in SharePoint 2013 and which are in SharePoint Online.

Language

SharePoint Server 2013

SharePoint Online

Arabic

Yes

Yes

Basque (Basque)

Yes

Yes

Bulgarian

Yes

Yes

Catalan

Yes

Yes

Chinese (Simplified)

Yes

Yes

Chinese (Traditional)

Yes

Yes

Croatian

Yes

Yes

Czech

Yes

Yes

Danish

Yes

Yes

Dutch

Yes

Yes

English

Yes

Yes

Estonian

Yes

Yes

Finnish

Yes

Yes

French

Yes

Yes

Galician

Yes

Yes

German

Yes

Yes

Greek

Yes

Yes

Hebrew

Yes

Yes

Hindi

Yes

Yes

Hungarian

Yes

Yes

Indonesian

Yes

No

Italian

Yes

Yes

Japanese

Yes

Yes

Kazakh

Yes

Yes

Korean

Yes

Yes

Latvian

Yes

Yes

Lithuanian

Yes

Yes

Malay (Malaysia)

Yes

No

Norwegian (Bokmål)

Yes

Yes

Polish

Yes

Yes

Portuguese (Brazil)

Yes

Yes

Portuguese (Portugal)

Yes

Yes

Romanian

Yes

Yes

Russian

Yes

Yes

Serbian (Cyrillic)

Yes

No

Serbian (Latin)

Yes

Yes

Slovak

Yes

Yes

Slovenian

Yes

Yes

Spanish

Yes

Yes

Swedish

Yes

Yes

Thai

Yes

Yes

Turkish

Yes

Yes

Ukrainian

Yes

Yes

Vietnamese

Yes

No

When you install Language Packs, you are required to install them on each and every SharePoint Server (e.g., Web Front-End and Application servers) within your organization’s farm.

Translation Services with SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 has a new Machine Translation Services service application which allows you to update your site or page’s content to be translated by a cloud service depending on the security and proxy settings on your organization and related governance policies.

I have worked on several initiatives where language packs had a few different variations. Having a content owner of the translated or variation site is key, so that they can review it for any errors or proper “word usage” for that region prior to publishing.

For example, EPC Group recently completed a SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365 hybrid cloud deployment with an organization based in the US, with several offices in South America in which Portuguese was the standard language.

The translation service as well as variations did not 100 percent properly translate the Portuguese of these offices due to regional dialect. It was key to establish a content owner for these sites which worked closely with the US office to ensure all content was accurate.

Variations in SharePoint 2013

Variations in SharePoint Server 2013, as depicted in the first image below as well as the second image below, drive the core multilingual capabilities that make this powerful feature possible. Users within your organization who visit a site are automatically redirected to the appropriate variation site based on the language setting of their web browser.

Variations provide for the use of industry standard XLIFF file format, which can include an entire list or library or simply one page or navigation element. They also provide improved throughput for creating new language sites.

Figure 1 illustrates SharePoint 2013’s variations.

Content authors can nominate lists on source variation sites to be propagated to target variation sites and list items such as documents and images propagate independently from pages.

The Variations feature can provide significant performance improvements as well as enabling bulk export of pages.

There is also added logging functionality around variations to help administrators monitor as well as improve the usefulness of the feature by reviewing error messages and logs and resolving any underlying issues.