This document contains information for an outdated version and may not be maintained any more. If some of your projects still use this version, consider upgrading as soon as possible.



This page introduces developers to using the CMS for creating content in multiple languages.

Please see i18n for a internationalization, globalization and localization support of built-in datatypes as well as translating templates and PHP code.

Translations can be enabled for all subclasses of DataObject, so it can easily be implemented into existing code with minimal interference.

Warning: If you're upgrading from a SilverStripe version prior to 2.3.2, please migrate your datamodel before using the extension (see below).


SilverStripe 2.3.2


Translated website

CMS: Language dropdown

CMS: Translatable field with original value

CMS: Create a new translation




Enabling Translatable through Object::add_extension() in your mysite/_config.php:

Object::add_extension('SiteTree', 'Translatable');
Object::add_extension('SiteConfig', 'Translatable'); // 2.4 or newer only

Through $extensions

class Page extends SiteTree {
  static $extensions = array(

Make sure to rebuild the database through /dev/build after enabling Translatable. Use the correct set_default_locale() before building the database for the first time, as this locale will be written on all new records.

Setting the default locale

Important: If the "default language" of your site is not english (en_US), please ensure to set the appropriate default language for your content before building the database with Translatable enabled


// Important: Call add_extension() after setting the default locale
Object::add_extension('SiteTree', 'Translatable');

For the Translatable class, a "locale" consists of a language code plus a region code separated by an underscore, for example "de_AT" for German language ("de") in the region Austria ("AT"). See for a detailed description.

To ensure that your template declares the correct content language, please see i18n.


Getting a translation for an existing instance:

$translatedObj = Translatable::get_one_by_locale('MyObject', 'de_DE');

Getting a translation for an existing instance:

$obj = DataObject::get_by_id('MyObject', 99); // original language
$translatedObj = $obj->getTranslation('de_DE');

Getting translations through Translatable::set_reading_locale(). This is not a recommended approach, but sometimes unavoidable (e.g. for Versioned methods).

$origLocale = Translatable::get_reading_locale();
$obj = Versioned::get_one_by_stage('MyObject', "ID = 99");

Creating a translation:

$obj = new MyObject();
$translatedObj = $obj->createTranslation('de_DE');

Usage for SiteTree

Translatable can be used for subclasses of SiteTree as well. If a child page translation is requested without the parent page already having a translation in this language, the extension will recursively create translations up the tree. Caution: The "URLSegment" property is enforced to be unique across languages by auto-appending the language code at the end. You'll need to ensure that the appropriate "reading language" is set before showing links to other pages on a website through $_GET['locale']. Pages in different languages can have different publication states through the Versioned extension.

Note: You can't get Children() for a parent page in a different language through set_reading_locale(). Get the translated parent first.

// wrong
// right
$germanParent = $englishParent->getTranslation('de_DE');

Translating custom properties

Keep in mind that the Translatable extension currently doesn't support the exclusion of properties from being translated - all custom properties will automatically be fetched from their translated record on the database. This means you don't have to explicitly mark any custom properties as being translatable.

The Translatable decorator applies only to the getCMSFields() method on DataObject or SiteTree, not to any fields added in overloaded getCMSFields() implementations. See Translatable->updateCMSFields() for details. By default, custom fields in the CMS won't show an original readonly value on a translated record, although they will save correctly. You can attach this behaviour to custom fields by using Translatable_Transformation as shown below.

class Page extends SiteTree {

    public static $db = array(
        'AdditionalProperty' => 'Text', 

    function getCMSFields() {
        $fields = parent::getCMSFields();

        // Add fields as usual
        $additionalField = new TextField('AdditionalProperty');
        $fields->addFieldToTab('Root.Content.Main', $additionalField);

        // If a translation exists, exchange them with 
        // original/translation field pairs
        $translation = $this->getTranslation(Translatable::default_locale());
        if($translation && $this->Locale != Translatable::default_locale()) {
            $transformation = new Translatable_Transformation($translation);

        return $fields;


Translating theHomepage

Every homepage has a distinct URL, the default language is /home, a German translation by default would be /home-de_DE. They can be accessed like any other translated page. If you want to access different homepages from the "root" without a URL, add a "locale" GET parameter. The German homepage would also be accessible through /?locale=de_DE.

For this to work, please ensure that the translated homepage is a direct translation of the default homepage, and not a new page created through "Create page...".

Translation groups

Each translation can have an associated "master" object in another language which it is based on, as defined by the "MasterTranslationID" property. This relation is optional, meaning you can create translations which have no representation in the "default language". This "original" doesn't have to be in a default language, meaning a french translation can have a german original, without either of them having a representation in the default english language tree. Caution: There is no versioning for translation groups, meaning associating an object with a group will affect both stage and live records.

SiteTree database table (abbreviated) ID URLSegment Title Locale
1 about-us About us en_US
2 ueber-uns Über uns de_DE
3 contact Contact en_US
SiteTree_translationgroups database table TranslationGroupID OriginalID
99 1
99 2
199 3


Caution: Does not apply any character-set conversion, it is assumed that all content is stored and represented in UTF-8 (Unicode). Please make sure your database and HTML-templates adjust to this.

"Default" languages

Important: If the "default language" of your site is not english (en_US), please ensure to set the appropriate default language for your content before building the database with Translatable enabled



Locales and language tags

For the Translatable class, a "locale" consists of a language code plus a region code separated by an underscore, for example "de_AT" for German language ("de") in the region Austria ("AT"). See for a detailed description.


Disabling Translatable after creating translations will lead to all pages being shown in the default sitetree regardless of their language. It is advised to start with a new database after uninstalling Translatable, or manually filter out translated objects through their "Locale" property in the database.


Switching languages

You can easily make your own switchers with the following basic tools. To stay friendly to caches and search engines, each translation of a page must have a unique URL.



By user preference (place this in your Page_Controller->init() method):

$member = Member::currentUser();
if($member && $member->Locale) {


As every page has its own unique URL, language selection mostly happens explicitly: A user requests a page, which always has only one language. But how does a user coming to your English default language know that there's a Japanese version of this page? By default, SilverStripe core doesn't provide any switching of languages through sessions or browser cookies. As a SEO-friendly CMS, it contains all this information in the URL. Each page in SilverStripe is aware of its translations through the getTranslations() method. We can use this method in our template to build a simple language switcher. It shows all available translations in an unordered list with links to the same page in a different language. The example below can be inserted in any of your templates, for example themes/blackcandy/templates/Layout/

<% if Translations %>
<ul class="translations">
<% control Translations %>
  <li class="$Locale.RFC1766">
    <a href="$Link" hreflang="$Locale.RFC1766" 
    <% sprintf(_t('SHOWINPAGE','Show page in %s'),$Locale.Nice) %>
<% end_control %>
<% end_if %>

Keep in mind that this will only show you available translations for the current page. The $Locale.Nice casting will just work if your locale value is registered in i18n::get_common_locales().


If you want to put static links in your template, which link to a site by their url, normally you can use the `<% control Page(page-url) %>`. For sites which use Translatable, this is not possible for more than one language, because the url's of different pages differ.

For this case place the following function in your Page_Controller:

public function PageByLang($url, $lang) {
    $SQL_url = Convert::raw2sql($url);
    $SQL_lang = Convert::raw2sql($lang);

    $page = Translatable::get_one_by_lang('SiteTree', $SQL_lang, "URLSegment = '$SQL_url'");

    if ($page->Locale != Translatable::get_current_locale()) {
        $page = $page->getTranslation(Translatable::get_current_locale());
    return $page;

So, for example if you have a german page "Kontakt", which should be translated to english as "Contact", you may use:

<% control PageByLang(Kontakt,de_DE) %>

The control displays the link in the right language, depending on the current locale.


<% control PageByLang(Kontakt,de_DE) %>
 <h2><a href="$Link" title="$Title">$Title</a></h2>
<% end_control %>

Enabling the _t() function in templates

If you're looking to use [the _t() function] in template files, you'll need to set the i18n locale first.

(The reasoning is as follows: Translatable doesn't set the i18n locale. Historically these were two separate systems, but they're reasonably interchangeable for a front-end website. The distinction is mainly valid for the CMS, because you want the CMS to be in English (i18n), but edit pages in different languages (Translatable).)

Migrating from 2.1 datamodel

The datamodel of Translatable changed significantly between its original release in SilverStripe 2.1 and SilverStripe 2.3.2. See our discussion on the mailinglist.

To migrate a database that was built with SilverStripe 2.1.x or 2.2.x, follow these steps:

  • Upgrade your SilverStripe installation to at least 2.3.2 (see upgrading)
  • Backup your database content
  • Login as an administrator
  • Run
  • Run

Please see the MigrateTranslatableTask for limitations of this migration task - not all your data will be preserved.

Setting the i18n locale

You can set the i18n locale value which is used to format dates, currencies and other regionally different values to the same as your current page locale.

class Page_Controller extends ContentController {
    public function init() {

        if($this->dataRecord->hasExtension('Translatable')) {

Adding a new locale

The i18n logic has lookup tables for common locales in i18n::$common_locales, which is a subset of i18n::$all_locales. If your locale is not present here, you can simply add it through mysite/_config.php:

i18n::$common_locales['de_AT'] = 'Deutsch (Oestereich)';

This should e.g. enable you to use $Locale.Nice in template code.

  • [] Starting point for community-driven translation of the Silverstripe UI
  • i18n: Developer-level documentation of Silverstripe's i18n capabilities
  • Translatable: DataObject-interface powering the website-content translations
  • ["Translatable ModelAdmin" module] An extension which allows translations of a DataObject inside ModelAdmin

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