Go Ahead and Ask – aka Language Support on podfeet.com

Podfeet in Myanmar languageI’ve mentioned a few times over the years that if there’s something new you wish I’d do on the show or something you wish I’d do differently, you should go ahead and ask. I may not change things, and I may not do what you ask but if it’s easy or I think it’s cool enough, I will do it. There’s zero harm in asking!

This week on the blog, Otoredi who I believe is from Malta, asked why my site has no language translation. The post was short enough that it could have been spam (his/her web link pointed to a Maltese Language School), but it got me thinking.

You may not know this, but if you ever come across a website in a language you don’t understand, if you open the site up in Chrome it will automatically detect that it’s not your language and offer to translate the site live. I could have told Otoredi to just use Chrome, but I wondered how hard it would be to implement.

One of the great things about having a blog on the WordPress platform is that there are plugins for everything. I went to wordpress.org/plugins and did a search for language translation.

When picking a plugin you are looking for a few important things. A lot of downloads, a reasonably high number of stars, and that’s it’s in active development, which you can tell by how recently it’s been updated. On occasion you might pick one that’s only meets two of those criteria, but you’d lave to be really sure you needed it and it was the only way to get the job done.

I found a plugin with 100K downloads, with very recent updates and 4.5 stars. Sounded great. Installation of plugins in WordPress is wonderfully easy, I simply installed from within WordPress, and in the Settings panel I was able to choose the languages for which I wanted translation. This was a little bit of a pain to click each language, but once I’d chosen a bunch and hit save, all podfeet.com pages had a bright orange button in the bottom right that said Translate. Tapping on that rewarded you with a tiny little flag for each language I’d chosen. A bit hard to see the flags but looked pretty.

I decided to write this up as a blog post, but when I followed the link from the plugin in my WordPress installation, I received a “Database Connection Error”. I figured the author was just having a problem on their site. I popped back over to wordpress.org and searched for it again…and it was gone. Now this was getting weird. I got that queasy feeling I was hoping to avoid by choosing a plugin with a ton of downloads an lots of positive ratings and recent updates. I gave a shoutout to Bart and he came to the same conclusion I did, uninstall right away till I could figure out what was happening. I uninstalled.

I had the guy’s name, so I searched for him on Twitter, and he wasn’t there. Searched his company’s name, not there. Searched Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus, all without finding him or his company. I gave it a week and the site is still giving a database error so something definitely went belly up.

The good news is that there’s always another plugin. I found Google Website Translator by Prisna.net. Again it was a simple matter of pushing the install button in WordPress and I was in business. This particular plugin worked a little bit differently, it allowed me to put what’s called a Widget into the right hand sidebar where you can simply choose your language from a list. I could choose each language to show one by one, or I could have the full list, which is what I really wanted. The list that you see is not as fun as the little flags but then again, it’s quite a bit easier to find your language! There are some advanced features to this tool where I could add the flags, but I think I’ll stick to the plain pulldown with text for now.

While this might not be something you personally need or care about on podfeet.com, the point of the story is that if there’s something you’d like to see on the site, or something you’d like me to talk about, please go ahead and ask! I don’t guarantee by any means that I’ll do it, but why not ask? It might be easy, it might be fun, and I might just do it!

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