qTranslate WordPress language Plugin

The qTranslate plugin translates your website into multiple languages using WordPress. There are 2 major caveates that I will discuss in this article, which need to be resolved external to the plugin and that is where I have run into a few bugs.

Benefits of qTranslate Plugin:

  • Localize (Translate) your website into many languages.
  • Have your website seen all around the world and get indexed in internal search engines and get more traffic.
  • Using WordPress, makes it is possible to hire third parties to translate for you directly.
  • Automated language translation services are available.
  • Supports additional domains like es.strategicpoints.com if you want to use this method.

Challenges of qTranslate Plugin:

  • qTranslate has been around for many versions, yet we ran into a few bugs.
  • Installation is not as simple as plug and play. You have to make choices and sometimes DNS changes.
  • Support for problems is still not for non programmers. You may need a technical person to help out.
  • Needs to be planned out and may require a dev environment for larger websites.
  • Issues when you run WordPress Upgrade, often qTranslate needs to be upgraded. WATCHOUT FOR THIS ONE!

Unlike other simple plugins, this plugin allows you to create domains like es.strategicpoints.com and de.strategicpoints.com if you choose. The default would be simply strategicpoints.com/es/ and strategicpoints.com/de/, with the language represented by the directory. So you have to decide which format you are using, either a directory method or a domain name method.

The other issue that needs to be resolved is whether or not you are going to use translations that are done by hand or by a “machine”. By machine this means a translation engine has attempted to translate it for you. Apparently this old translation that most on the web used to call Babelfish, because they were an early automatic translator, as well as systran, is still giving it a go. I guess one day it would be ready for primetime.

After our first attempt at the qTranslate WordPress plugin about a year ago on a small website, there was a second attempt at it this past fall, to translate one of our medium sized websites into 3 additional languages. The first time at this had its pitfalls, but the second time around has been a lot better.

First issue that we ran into is what to call the domain names. After deciding to go with the domain name approach, we found that we were restricted to es.strategicpoints.com… This was a bit disappointing, because we had originally wanted to come up with completely different domain names per language. Maybe this will be a feature that will be added.

The next issue we ran into and still have a problem with is, once we turned it on, the wrong default language kept coming up. We wanted it to be English, but it came up German! The only thing we could think of was to set the default site to en.strategicpoints.com (you realize I am just using this site as an example). And we had to use .htaccess to do this. Not good. But of course marketing folks did not like the en. in front of a site, so we were stuck between a rock and hardplace. Have not yet resolved and we may have to hack the site to get it work right.

Overall it saved us thousands of dollars, and yes we did run into a bug with qTranslate. That said, it still was a big lifesaver and appears to be worth its weight in gold. So, if you have a bit of technical team around and want to local/translate, this is the way to do it in WordPress. In fact I can see sites switching to WordPress for just getting the qTranslate running.

UPDATE

So as an update to the particular bug I ran into using qTranslate, I went through and found out what the real problem was and fixed it manually. Basically the issue was that the program was looking for “de” at the beginning of the domain name. So what was happening is dev.strategicpoints.com was pointing automatically to the German language. That is because “dev” begins with “de”. The qTranslate plugin was just looking at the first two characters of the domain name, and assumed it was de.strategicpoints.com.

How did I fix this?

If you are having this bug, which I doubt, because you would have to have a domain with three parts that begins with either “de”, “es” or “en” or something like that, you could go into the qtranslate_core.php file and correct the problem. That is what I did. I went in and edited the open source code and checked for the full domain name string, “dev.strategicpoints.com” and when it matched I set the language to “en” or english, my base language. Leave me a comment below if you have any additional questions about how I fixed this, though I highly doubt that anybody will have this problem. The biggest issue now that I have solved it, is remembering to not overwrite the old plugin with a new one without fixing the code I placed in there. ..

WordPress For The Enterprise – Article 2

WordPress Enterprise Issue And Plugins

Now that you have read my first article,WordPress For The Enterprise – Article 1, which is really more about reasons why to do a WordPress enterprise implementation, let’s get into what is missing; how we are dealing with it; the absolutely necessary plugins that are out there and the big issues. Here is the big issue and the Plugins I recommend (I am sure there are more out there, and I promise to update this blog with them):

DEV vs. QA vs. PROD
The first and foremost problem with not having an enterprise based solution in WordPress is resolving the enterprise issue of building in a dev environment, testing and QA’ing content in a QA environment, and finally publishing into a secure environment. A lot of gaps here and probably good enough reasons for many IT execs to back off and go for Interwoven, a customized CMS or some other relic of the past. But like I have been saying in Article 1, you have to take the good with the bad, and go with this train, because it is moving so fast, solving so many SEO and other issues along the way, that what the heck, let’s go for it. For now, the answer is still not simple. Across a dozen WordPress implementations, we are currently syncing the Databases. Now that may be a silly answer… albeit let’s get to the real answer. And like all web developers, if there is a problem, there is a solution. That is why have been developing an in-house Enterprise Publishing solution. It is still under development, and it will fit right into the WordPress admin system. When a writer is ready to sync a page from QA to Prod, and it has been approved, there will be a checkbox next to each page, and when they are ready to go, walla, the system will push the content from mysql DB QA to mysql DB PROD… Once we are done with this solution, there probably will be 10 or so plugins just like it on the market. This is coming. Maybe you will be using ours one day.

Anyway, that was the tough news to hear… Now here are the plugins that we can not live without:

Redirection
This plugin is like the old .htaccess in the linux environment that sets the redirects of incoming links, without having to create directories or redirection files. Found this one a while back and it has really improved our migration from non-WordPress sites to WordPress. If you are not familiar with this one. I would take a look. You may not be ssh’ing to the box after you find this to fix your URLs.

Velvet Blues Update URLS
Sounds kind of funky and kind of important. This small utility plugin simply allows you to flip all URLs in the site, including all content pages, from one URL to another. Now, why would you need this. It’s simple. You want to create a temporary site on the production box before you go live. Let’s say your site is called StrategicPoints.com. So before I go live I want to see it as as WordPress site and not mess up the current site. So I create a new.StrategicPoints.com. Let’s say the Mysql DB is coming from the QA site, qa.strategicpoints.com. So you go into Velvet Blues and flip qa.strategicpoints.com to new.strategicpoints.com. (Just a comment that if you do this, you still need to get into the MYSQL db to swap the DB options first before you run this. I recommend PHPMYADMIN for the faint of heart out there, who were not an SA like me in the old Bell days). I will get more into the production migration process in my next article, so we will get back to this process later on.

Exec-PHP
This is a very simple plugin which allows you to drop PHP code into the content area on any page. Sounds like a silly thing, but this could be important in making your widgets and making dynamic things happen in your code.

Breadcrumb-navxt
A plugin that allows you to show your bread crumbs as you surf around a WordPress website.

PagesPlus and My Page Order
Plugins that allows you to manage a large amount of pages better. I have not yet used these yet, so I won’t comment, but if you are dealing with over 100 pages of content, this could be important.

Ax-sidebar
This allows you to better manage the side bar content

All-in-one-seo-pack
A variety of SEO related tools, and seems to be the best one for the enterprise. There are many of these WordPress SEO tools out there, but this one appears to cover most of the needs of SEO.

Google-analytics-for-WordPress
This is one of several Google Analytics installer plugins. This one seems to work. I have tried a few, and this one is ready to go. If you are new to Google Analytics, well you should know the drill by now. Put Google Analytics on the site and you will know the anlaytics

Googe-sitemap-generator
Great tool for generating a sitemap.xml file for Google Webmaster Tools. If you have not logged into this part of Google yet, you really need to, because it is the best way of letting Google know what pages you offer. Great for SEO.

Sitemap Generator
Not to be confused with the sitemap.xml file, the Site Map generator creates a real site map that real users can use. Sounds Great!

WP Security Scan
This is a great security, WordPress, hardening tool. Use it to run a site audit and see what needs to be improved. Keep up with new versions, through the new downloader, and you will keep from getting hacked, always an issue using this open source stuff, and an enterprise concern

qTranslate
Just getting into the localization, then try the best of WordPress breed out there. This is qTranslate. I have used it once so far and it did the job. I will mention however, that it is powerful and does require set up. There are these .mo files that need to go on your site in order to assist with the translation character set. So this one may require talking to a tech guy. For latin languages, it goes right to work. Anyway, we are about to try it out again for a new site and we will see if it is up to the Enterprise task.

That’s about it for now. Hopefully we can come to some conclusion on a set of enterprise plugins. The big one, the “Publishing Plugin” is getting close at our company. Somebody will create a real nice one out there and hopefully solve this issue. There are a variety of problems and issues associated with this production plugin, but I think they will be worked out, to the point that we just point and click and it does the job.

Next, Article 3, the WordPress enterprise migration process.

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Dan