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Localizing and internationalizing an extension

Particularly in business relationships there is often the need to build a website in more than one language. Therefore not only does the translation of the websites content need to be completed, but also the extensions which are used must also be available in multiple languages.

The configuration options for localization inside TYPO3 are versatile. You will find a comprehensive description of all concepts and options in the Frontend Localization Guide ( For the following sections we assume a correct configuration of the localization, which is normally done in the TypoScript root template and looks like this:

config {
  linkVars = L
  uniqueLinkVars = 1
  sys_language_uid = 0
  language = default
  locale_all = en_GB
  htmlTag_langKey = en

[globalVar = GP:L = 1]
config {
  sys_language_uid = 1
  language = de
  locale_all = de_DE.utf8
  htmlTag_langKey = de

The selection of the frontend language is carried out with a parameter in the URL (linkVars = L). Important is the definition of the UID of the language (sys_language_uid = 0) and the language key of the language (language = default). When the URL of the website contains the parameter L=1 the output occurs in german, if the parameter is not set the output of the website occurs in the default language (in our example in english).

In the next section, we start with the translation of static text like captions of links which appear in templates. After this we go to translate the content of extensions, thus the domain objects. Finally we explain how you can adjust the date formats in accordance with the date conventions in the particular country.

Multi language Templates

When you style the output of your extension using Fluid, you often have to localize particular terms or maybe short text in the templates. In the following sample template of the blog example which displays a single blog post with its comments there are some constant terms:

<p>By: {}</p>
<p>{post.content -> f:format.nl2br()}</p>

<f:for each="{post.comments}" as="comment">
  {comment.content -> f:format.nl2br()}


The template is a little bit simplified and reduced to the basic.

First of all the text "By:" in front of the author of the post is hard coded in the template, as well as the caption "Comments". For the use of the extension on an English website this is no problem but if you want to use it on a German website, the texts "By" and "Comments" would be displayed instead of "Von" and "Kommentare". To make such text exchangeable it has to be removed from the template and inserted in a language file. Every text which is to be translated is given an identifier that can be inserted in the template later. Table 9-1 shows the identifier used in the sample and their translations into german and english.

Table 9-1: The texts how we want to translate them










In TYPO3 (and also in Extbase) the language file, in which the translated terms are stored, is named locallang.xlf. It should contain all terms that have to be translated, in our example "By:" and "Comments", and their translations. Using Extbase the the file locallang.xlf must reside in the folder Resources/Private/Language/. To localize the above terms we create the locallang.xlf file the following way:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xliff version="1.0" xmlns="urn:oasis:names:tc:xliff:document:1.1">
   <file source-language="en" datatype="plaintext" original="messages" date="2011-10-18T18:20:51Z" product-name="my-ext">
           <trans-unit id="author_prefix">
           <trans-unit id="comment_header">


The TYPO3 Core API describes in detail the construction of the locallang.xlf file (

Now the placeholder for the translated terms must be inserted into the template. To do this, Fluid offers the ViewHelper f:translate. In this ViewHelper you give the identifier of the term to be inserted as argument key and the ViewHelper inserts either the german or the english translation according to the current language selection

<f:translate key="comment_header" />
<!-- or -->
{f:translate(key: 'comment_header')}


The used language is defined in the TypoScript template of the website. By default the english texts are used; but when with setting of the TypoScript setting config.language = de you can set the used language to german for example.

To implement a language selection normally TypoScript conditions are used. These are comparable with an if/else block

[globalVar = GP:L = 1]
config.language = de
config.language = default

When the URL of the website contains a parameter L=1, then the output is in German; if the parameter is not set the output is in the default language English.

With the use of complex TypoScript conditions the language selection could be set to depend on the forwarded language of the browser.

By replacing all terms of the template with the translate ViewHelper we could fit the output of the extension to the currently selected language. Here we have a look at the Fluid template for the output of the blog posts, now without the hardcoded english terms:

<p><f:translate key="author_prefix"> {}</p>
<p>{post.content -> f:format.nl2br()}</p>
<h3><f:translate key="comment_header"></h3>
<f:for each="{post.comments}" as="comment">
   {comment.content -> f:format.nl2br()}


Sometimes you have to localize a string in the PHP code, for example inside of a controller or a ViewHelper. In that case you can use the static method \TYPO3\CMS\Extbase\Utility\LocalizationUtility::translate($key, $extensionName). This method requires the localization key as the first and the name of the extension as the second parameter. Then the corresponding text in the current language will be loaded from this extension's locallang.xlf file .

Output localized strings using sprintf

In the above example we have outputted the name of the blog post author simply by using {}. Many languages have special rules on how names are to be used - especially in Thailand it is common to only show the first name and place the word "Khan" in front of it (which is a polite form). We want to enhance our template now as far as it can to output the name of the blog author according to the current language. In German and English this is the form "first name last name" and in Thai "Khan first name".

Also for this use cases the translate ViewHelper can be used. With the aid of the array arguments, values can be embedded into the translated string. To do this, the syntax of the PHP function sprintf is used.

If we want to implement the above example, we must assign the first name and the last name of the blog author separate to the translate ViewHelper:

<f:translate key="name" arguments="{, 2:}" />

How should the corresponding string in the locallang.xml file looks like? It describes on which position the placeholder are to be inserted. For English and German it looks like this:

<label index="name">%1$s %2$s</label>

Important are the placeholder strings %1$s and %2$s. These will be replaced with the assigned parameters. Every placeholder starts with the % sign, followed by the position number inside the arguments array, starting with 1, followed by the $ sign. After that the usual formatting specifications follows - in the example it is the data type string (s). Now we can define for Thai, that "Khan" followed by the first name should be output:

<label index="name">Khan %1$s</label>


The keys in the arguments array of the ViewHelper have no relevance. We recommend to give them numbers like the positions (starting with 1), because it is easy understandable.


For a full reference of the formatting options for sprintf you should have a look at the PHP documentation:

Changing localized terms using TypoScript

If you use an existing extension for a customer project, you sometimes find out that the extension is insufficient translated or that the translations have to be adjusted. TYPO3 offers the possibility to overwrite the localization of a term by TypoScript. Fluid also support this.

If, for example, you want use the text "Remarks" instead of the text "Comments", you have to overwrite the identifier comment_header for the English language. For this you can add following line to your TypoScript template:

plugin.tx_blogexample._LOCAL_LANG.default.comment_header = Remarks

With this you will overwrite the localization of the term comment_header for the default language in the blog example. So you can adjust the translation of the texts like you wish, without changing the locallang.xml file.

Until now we have shown how to translate static text of templates. Of course it is important that also the data of an extension is translated according to the national language. We will show this in the next section.

Multi language domain objects

With TYPO3 you can localize the data sets in the backend. This also applies to domain data, because they are treated like "normal" data sets in the TYPO3 backend. To make your domain objects translatable you have to create additional fields in the database and tell TYPO3 about them. The class definitions must not be changed. Lets have a look at the required steps based on the blog class of the blog example. TYPO3 needs three additional database fields which you should insert in the ext_tables.sql file:

CREATE TABLE tx_blogexample_domain_model_blog {
    // ...
    sys_language_uid int(11) DEFAULT '0' NOT NULL,
    l10n_parent int(11) DEFAULT '0' NOT NULL,
    l10n_diffsource mediumblob NOT NULL,
    // ...

You are free to choose the names of the database fields, but the names we use here are common in the world of TYPO3. In any case you have to tell TYPO3 which name you have chosen. This is done in the ctrl section of the TCA configuration file Configuration/TCA/tx_blogexample_domain_model_blog.php


return [
    'ctrl' => [
        // ...
        'languageField' => 'sys_language_uid',
        'transOrigPointerField' => 'l10n_parent',
        'transOrigDiffSourceField' => 'l10n_diffsource',
        // ...

The field sys_language_uid is used for storing the UID of the language in which the blog is written. Based on this UID Extbase choose the right translation depending on the current TypoScript setting in config.sys_language_uid. In the field l10n_parent the UID of the original blog created in the default language, which the current blog is a translation of. The third field l10n_diffsource contains a snapshot of the source of the translation. This snapshot is used in the backend for creation of a differential view and is not used by Extbase.

In the section columns of the TCA you have to configure the fields accordingly. The following configuration adds two fields to the backend form of the blog: one field for the editor to define the language of a data record and one field to select the data record the translation relates to.


return [
    // ...
    'types' => [
        '1' => ['showitem' => 'l18n_parent , sys_language_uid, hidden, title,
                    description, logo, posts, administrator'],
    'columns' => [
        'sys_language_uid' => [
            'exclude' => 1,
            'label' => 'LLL:EXT:lang/locallang_general.php:LGL.language',
            'config' => [
                'type' => 'select',
                'foreign_table' => 'sys_language',
                'foreign_table_where' => 'ORDER BY sys_language.title',
                'items' => [
        'l18n_parent' => [
            'displayCond' => 'FIELD:sys_language_uid:>:0',
            'exclude' => 1,
            'label' => 'LLL:EXT:lang/locallang_general.php:LGL.l18n_parent',
            'config' => [
              'type' => 'select',
              'items' => [
                  ['', 0],
              'foreign_table' => 'tx_blogexample_domain_model_blog',
              'foreign_table_where' => 'AND tx_blogexample_domain_model_blog.uid=###REC_FIELD_
                    l18n_parent### AND tx_blogexample_domain_model_blog.
                    sys_language_uid IN (-1,0)',
        'l18n_diffsource' => [
            'config' => [
              'type' =>'passthrough'
        // ...

With it, the localization of the domain object is already configured. By adding &amp;L=1 to the URL, the language of the frontend will be changed to german. If there is an existing translation of a blog, it will be shown. Otherwise the blog is output in the default language.


You can control this behavior. If you set the option config.sys_language_mode to strict in the TypoScript configuration, then only these objects are shown which really have content in the frontend language. More information for this you will find in the Frontend Localization Guide of the Core Documentation.

How TYPO3 handles the localization of content offers two important specific features: The first is that all translations of a data record respectively a data record that is valid for all languages (UID of the language is 0 or -1) will be "added" to the data record in the default language. The second special feature is that always the UID of the record in the default language is bound for identification although the translated data record in the database table has another UID. This conception has a serious disadvantage: If you want to create a data record for a language that has no data record in the default language, you have to create the latter before. But with what content?

Lets have an example for illustration: You create a blog in the default language English (=default). It is stored in the database like this:

uid:              7 (given by the database)
title:            "My first Blog"
sys_language_uid: 0 (selected in backend)
l10n_parent:      0 (no translation original exists)

After a while you create a German translation in the backend. In the database the following record is stored:

uid:              42 (given by the database)
title:            "Mein erster Blog"
sys_language_uid: 1 (selected in backend)
l10n_parent:      7 (selected in backend respectively given automatically)

A link that references the single view of a blog looks like this:;tx_blogexample_pi1[controller]=Blog&amp;tx_blogexample_pi1[action]=show&amp;tx_blogexample_pi1[blog]=7

By adding &amp;L=1 we referencing now the German version:;tx_blogexample_pi1[controller]=Blog&amp;tx_blogexample_pi1[action]=show&amp;tx_blogexample_pi1[blog]=7&amp;L=1

Notice that the given UID in tx_blogexample_pi1[blog]=7 is not changed. There is not UID of the data record of the german translation (42). This has the advantage that only the parameter for the language selection is enough. Concurrently it has the disadvantage of a higher administration effort during persistence. Extbase will do this for you by carrying the UID of the language of the domain model and the UID of the data record in which the domain data is effectively stored as "hidden" properties of the AbstractDomainObject internally. In Table 9-2 you find for different actions in the frontend the behavior of Extbase for localized domain objects.

Table 9-2: Behavior of Extbase for localized domain objects in the frontend.

No parameter L given, or L=0

L=x (x>0)

Display (index, list, show)

Objects in the default language (sys_language_uid=0) respectively object for all languages (sys_language_uid=-1) are shown

The objects are shown in the selected language x. If an object doesn't exist in the selected language the object of the default language is shown (except by sys_language_mode=strict)

Editing (edit, update)

Like displaying an object. The domain data is stored in the "translated" data record, in the above example in the record with the UID 42.

Creation (new, create)

Independent of the selected frontend language the data is stored in a new record in whose field sys_language_uid the number 0 is inserted.

Extbase also supports all default functions of the localization of domain objects. It has its limits when a domain object should be created exclusively in a target language. Especially when no data record exists in the default language.

Localization of date output

It often occurs that a date or time must be displayed in a template. Every language area has its own convention on how the date is to be displayed: While in Germany the date is displayed in the form Day.Month.Year, in the USA the form Month/Day/Year is used. Depending on the language the date must be formatted different.

Generally the date or time is formatted by the ViewHelper:

< date="{dateObject}" format="d.m.Y" />
<!-- or -->
{dateObject -> 'd.m.Y')}

The date object {dateObject} is displayed with the date format given in the parameter format. This format string must be in a format which is readable by the PHP function date() and declares the format of the output. Table 9-3 shows the some important placeholders.

Table 9-3: Some place holder of date.

Format character




Day of the month as number, double-digit, with leading zero

01 ... 31


Month as number, with leading zero

01 ... 12


Year as number, with 4 digits



Year as number, with 2 digits



Hour in 24 hour format

00 ... 23


Minutes, with leading zero

00 ... 59

But the ViewHelper has to be configured different. Depending on the language area, which is controlled by the language of the user, an other format string should be used. Here we combine the ViewHelper with the translate ViewHelper which you got to know in the section "Multilanguage templates"

< date="{dateObject}" format="{f:translate(key: 'date_format')}" />

Than you can store an other format string for every language in the locallang.xml file and you can change the format string via TypoScript if needed. This method to translate content you got to know in the section "Multilanguage templates".


There are other formatting ViewHelpers for adjusting the output of currencies or big numbers. These ViewHelpers all starts with format. You can find an overview of these ViewHelpers in Appendix C. These ViewHelpers can be used like the ViewHelper you have just learned.

In this section you have learned how you can translate and localize an extension. First we have worked on the localization of single terms in the template, after this we had a look at the content of the extension. Finally the customization of date information for country-specific formats where explained. In the next section you will see how constraints of the domain objects can be preserved.