I have recently done a little investigation on on multi-language support in MOSS 2007. SharePoint calls its support of multiple language versions of a site Variation. After looking into it and in some cases testing on a small SharePoint server in the office here, here is the situation:
- Variations can only be switched on for Site Collections that host top level sites based on the Publishing or Publishing with Workflow site templates.
- It is possible to set up variations for different dialects of a langauge, for example French (France) and French (Canada).
- You will need to load the language packs for any languages you wish to run as Variation onto any server. These language packs enable you to create SharePoint sites and site collections in multiple languages. The language packs contain language-specific site templates. When a site or a site collection based on a language-specific site template is created the text that appears on the site or the site collection is displayed in the site template’s language.
- I can confirm SharePoint will automatically forward users to the appropriate variations (if they exist) based on the Regional settings on their PC/laptop.
- It is not possible to switch off variations in a site collection once turned on although it is possible to delete variations that are no longer required.
- All the information I’ve looked at points to variations needing to be configured before you start publishing content to a site. I did a trial on a test server I have on the desk next to me which had a dummy site set up and from what I can see it has set up a number of variations as requested but doesn’t pick up the existing top level site because of the way variation configuration works. It is possible to move sites across and SharePoint will automatically update these sites across the variations as long as they have the SharePoint Publishing feature switched on. This includes Team sites but they do not honour the full publishing mechanism and as a result do not get content replicated across variations as the Publishing template based site do. The existing Home page will have to be recreated within new source variation Home page. I can’t see any other way for this to be migrated.
- The next thing to note is that variations are a content management feature and the key word here is content. So Discussions, Surveys and Lists and document libraries are not replicated across variations. You can set up equivalents in each variation but they are managed separately as would be expected in different languages.
Given what I’ve found today if you think you might need to switch variations on at a later stage you should consider starting with variations on but only one language configured to start with. This way if you then wish to switch on another language you will have no work to do on the existing site, just on the new language site based on the original source site..