I am wondering how hard it is to make my site multilingual. If not too difficult, what programs would I need to accomplish this? I mainly need Chinese. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
It is hard if you don't know the language you are interested in like Chinese.
Multilingual sites are basically sites created in those languages and a link is provided to go to the other sites. Alternatively, you could incorporate Google or Bing Translator and for this you need to search on their respective sites.
I've done a few multilingual sites, including ones with Chinese, and here is my approach:
The site is created as a CMS (content management system) using PHP and MySQL. One table in the database manages the languages. this table only has an auto-incremented key, the name of the language (in that particular language), and a field to determine whether or not the language is currently active in the live website (so, for instance, the Chinese version can be hidden until the translators get all their work done) . Each time a page of the website is added, you have the option to add content to that page in English, Chinese, or whatever, Remember that the menu system must also be multilingual. If you have an active site, I think the above is a good method but it requires some fairly advanced PHP coding.
But if you build a site with Wordpress you can add a multilingual plug-in which will give you similar functionality. If you are not a programmer, then this might be the best way to accomplish what you are after.
Or, if your site is very simple and you are going to enter all the content yourself, and you don't think the number of pages would be unmanageable, then you can do something similar to what hth suggested by simply creating all the pages individually in Dreamweaver. Be sure to set your character encoding to UTF-8, which will handle both English and Chinese characters.
If you went the Dreamweaver route, instead of creating a Chinese website and a separate English website you can simply distinguish the language version of each page by deciding on a file naming convention. For instance, the English contact page might be called "contact_en.html" and the Chinese contact page called "contact_ch.html". That would help you maintain the synchronization between the versions.
So the short answer to your question is that there are several very different ways to approach this, and you don't need to purchase anything extra for any of these solutions. Much of the work for each solution can be done in Dreamweaver. I the third method, all of it can be done in Dreamweaver.
Awesome, thanks to both hth and Rob. I am going to give it a try with one of your suggestions Rob. I am not sure yet, which to try. I do have a site (for taiji/tai chi, hence the need/want for Chinese) that was created in Dreamweaver. I will play around with it... carefully lol... and see if I can handle this task. I am a rookie, but have learned quite a bit on my own, so in other words, I am not afraid to try and learn more. Thanks again for your help and especially the detailed info you game me, it is appreciated very much.
Suzanne, I misunderstood what you were after. You just want to mix Chinese and English on the same page, right? You can do this by making your character encoding utf-8.Put the following in the head section of the page and remove any existing character set definition.
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
Then, if the chinese characters do not render correctly on the page, there could be a problem with the selected font or with the character set of the originating document. The Chinese characters should NOT get converted to entities in the html. If they do, something is wrong.
Actually, what I am hoping to do is have the site in English with the option of switching to Chinese. I am sorry for the confusion. Would I go with your first suggestions? Thank you so much for the help.
My first suggestion is the best suggestion for an experienced PHP programmer. It requires handling multidimensional arrays, complex SQL queries and is just generally beyond the scope of a beginner. I think the third suggestion, of creating individual static pages with a careful naming convention, is the right path if your PHP skills are not strong.
Several others who frequent this forum also work with multilingual sites, so you might get more suggestions.
If I create individual static pages for the Chinese version, how do I link them to one button (on home page) to change from English to Chinese? Will they have to change each page individually of is it possible to change the whole site with one button (since I am a rookie)? Thanks for your patience.
Your menu structure for English would contain only links to the English versions. The Chinese menu would be identical except that the names would be in Chinese and the links would be to the chinese pages only. This is where having a naming convention will help, so when you build the menu it will be easy to differentiate the chinese and english pages.
Then, at the top of every English page (I put it in small text on the upper right) you can have a link to the corresponding Chinese page, with the link text 中文 (Chinese) and on the Chinese pages the same thing, but with the link text ENGLISH and the link to the english version.
Even though the above might seem effortful, it's the easiest solution that I can think of, and for a single site that doesn't have a lot of pages, it shoud be fine.
Awesome. I think even I can handle this one . I really appreciate your help, and I will be using your sugestions, but don't be surprised if in the future you see me back on here asking about adding video lol.... NOT YET though. One step at a time.
Thanks again Rob,
How do you feel about the Google translate? Just curious. I know it is probably nothing like the real deal, but any clue on how accurate it is? I was wondering about adding it until I can get my site translated for real.
Well, if it's OK if your Chinese readers are reading strangely phrased material, then I guess Google Translate would be OK.
I think Google translate is useful for translating a single word or a short phrase, but a whole website?
I work with foreign language material a lot, but I just create the functionality and my clients deal with getting it translated, so I might not be the best person to ask about this.
That’s what I thought. It is hard to translate Chinese anyway, so I figured something so easy and copy and pasting a code into the site was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo.
I appreciate your time and help. Thanks again,