qTranslate vs WPML

In January 2011 we created our family site – deyneko.com. My family and I live in the Montreal so we use three languages: French (official here), English (second here) and Russian (it is our native language). At the first I made our family site in simple html but later I decided to transfer the site to WordPress platform. And I started search solution – how can I create multilingual WordPress site.

How to create multilingual site

After intensive surfing in the internet I found two leading plugins: qTranslate and WPML.

In short about working mechanism of qTranslate.
Text of different languages placed in one page! But there are special tags for each language like this <!–:en–>here text<!–:–>. When a visitor press English language button then filter takes on the screen text in contains in following tags <!–:en–>here text<!–:–> only (“en” means English). Another example, there is text: <!–:en–>Hi<!–:–><!–:fr–>Salut<!–:–><!–:ru–>Привет!<!–:–>” if you will choise French you see only “Salut” because it was in “French tag”. Absolutely same way with titles, categories etc.

And now in short about working mechanism of WPML.
Content is stored in different pages in the other words it just like “usual”… For each post different places etc. But pages, messages etc “connected” with each other by WPML. So if you see a post in English but you need to read this message in French then you press on a button “French language” and WPML swiches to other post where there is translated text (in French). It looks like if you press to a link “Here same text but translated into French”.
All other information about these plugins you can read on their official sites (links below this text).

Interestingly… I’ve found in the internet much more positive comments for qTranslate. Frankly speaking I didn’t found any significant articles for WPML (may be only on their official site). And there was another big advantage – qTranslate is absolutely free but WPML is not. Then I installed the qTranslate for test. It is true that working with qTranslate is very easy. My old site on “simple html” was transferred to the new site on WordPress platform very fast. At glance all worked OK.

But in couple days I found first problems. After press on “Home” button site always reset to default language and same situation was after press to submit for a comment. I started search how to resolve these problems and found that I am not alone with this. On official support forum there were many solutions but for other themes. I used “TwentyTen” theme and even could not find same code (according the forum) for replacing. After week of unsuccessful searching I sent the questions in many forums and blogs and received one answer with code for my theme1. Yes, I resolved these two problems but received other one. Searching (widget) worked only with default language.

After short time I found that comments are not separated by language. And I tried to find – how could comments in differ language at least be hidden  – unfortunately without any success. Imagine, you are reading an article in your favorite language and suddenly see a comment in absolutely other language which you cannot understand. Will this fact encourage you to leave your comment?  I sure you know the answer.
I use Subscribe 2 plugin – subscription of announces for new posts. With the qTranslate Subscribe plugin sent mix text in one post. Subscribe plugin took absolutely all language pieces of text in a pile even without spaces. And I received some “big-eyed” notes from my relatives like “Hey I received very strange mail from you – maybe you has virus…”. Well, I switched off the Subscribe 2.

I have been tried to find a solution for problems which disturbed me: how to separate comments and how to make searching function able in all languages. In that time my hosting provider was attacked by hackers! You can ask – why you talking about hackers? OK I will explain. By this attack files like index.php and some others have been replaced by hackers’ files. So instead my site I saw a dark page with inscription “Server was hacked by…”. I download WordPress distributive and started manually replace all suspicious files by “normal” files. Do you remember that I told that before I changed the code in some files for normal working of qTranslate? After this I thought if the WordPress or theme will update I receive such problem again… If I will decide to change my theme it takes long time for searching solutions for normal work of qTranslate again.

Actually I didn’t receive answers/solutions for “comments problem”, “searching problem” up to now. Are these problem could be resolved? I think yes… But developer should work with it. I found this message in official qTranslate forum, “Qian Qin’s last update on this topic was on February 25th, more than 5 months ago. On his blog, his last post was almost 1 year ago. The only updates we get are those for version 2.5 of the plugin along with WordPress updates and recently with a serious delay. Is qTranslate project dead? If yes, we have to know!”1

There is excellent expression: “Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé3  … May be Mr. Qian Qin need to read this famous novel?  In my opinion only two ways should exist: help users or just say “sorry I cannot more support this project…”.  May be he has no enough time for this project (and we know this project is free) but the situation must be clear to users.

I bought and installed the WPML plugin and by this way I solved all described problems include separating comments according language etc. In contrast of some articles working with WPML is easy too as well as with qTranslate.  All pages, posts, comments are separated so you can use most of plugins with minimal risk of conflicts. Also you can change a theme, update WordPress much more easy with WPML than if you used qTranslate.

Conclusions
If you think that I try to say here “WPML, the WPML only, nothing but the WPML” – you are wrong. But do not fully relay information (reviews, opinions, download counting) in the internet there is may be incorrect or old information. The veracity of each information could be affected by different factors.

My personal suggestion: the best way to test these plugins by yourself. If you have installed one of them (or absolutely other language plugin), then you can install temporary (second) WordPress on subdomain like test.yourdomain.com then installed other plugin there. For this case you have 1 month for WPML (they can reimburse your money if you will not like it). And you can start to compare them – give to plugins “same task”. I mean create what you want in different languages and see how it work with different plugins, add comments, work with widgets, install other plugin see is there conflicts, change theme etc etc. Do not hurry – test several plugins and choose one of them. May be you not believe me – this your discover can takes only one or couple days! This is very easy if you can quickly install couple WP for example your hosting provider has cPanel + automatic installation of WordPress. After you have done your experiments – just kill your second WordPress. May be it seems complicated in compared with reading reviews of other people or look at downloading count ;) But by this method you can save your nerves!

—————————————————————————————-
1 – Example one of my message
2 –  You can find this message here
3- Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) is a novel by Antoine de Saint Exupéry in 1943.
qTranslate official site: here
WPML official site: here

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29 Responses to qTranslate vs WPML

  1. gabi says:

    is the best article I have ever read .. it helped me very much thank you.

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks. It is really hard to choise because I don’t know what’s plugin is better for google!

  3. Anke says:

    Alexander, this is a great article – I feel the same about qTranslate. At first it looks nice and is easy to handle, but if you’re providing rss feeds or want to have taxonomies translated, WPML is the better choice. I’m still trying various ways of displaying my language switcher (I have German and English content).

  4. Nathan says:

    Sad that qTranslate appears dead. WPML it is…

    • Alexander says:

      I very hope qTranslate is not dead… I hope this good project temporary lost attention from his author… I’d say qTranslate not dead but in a coma :)
      In spite I using now WPML… anyway good competitor must be. You know what about I talking.

      • Aldi says:

        qTranslate is not dead. Qian is just really busy with his priorities, which does not include qTranslate unfortunately. I think he mentioned it somewhere in his site. So it’s either take it or leave it, I guess.

  5. Aubrey says:

    I see at least one important difference between WPML and qTranslate: WPML treat each language entry as a separate blog entry while qTranslate treats all language versions of the same content as ONE entry.

    If anyone want to display the same content in different languages like I do on my webiste at http://theologos.net/b5 , then qTranslate does have the needed feature that WPML lacks. When someone clicks the language selection links, aTranslate instantly switches to the right language version for the same content. And this change is instantly reflected on the URL. See what I mean:

    I use English as the default language for my webiste http://theologos.net/b5 when someone select Chinese, the URL becomes http://theologos.net/b5/zh (zh is a language code for Chinese). And it does that for every page and every post. This is needed for SEO purpose. This way I do not have to install two WordPress blogs for two langugages. I just install one and literally can maintain the blog for how many languages I want for the same content. Each language version has its own unique code in the URL.

    • Alexander says:

      May be the WPML lacks something, but for example on your site comments in ALL languages together. If I see a comment in other language (in your case I saw in Chineese) this fact will not courage me to leave my comment. As you see on my site – If an article in Eng you will find comments in Eng only… in Rus – comments in Rus etc.

  6. Gianfranco says:

    I think that i have to move my website to WPML…

  7. Amir Helzer says:

    We’ve been getting a lot of requests recently to make it easier to migrate sites from qTranslate to WPML.

    We really appreciate the efforts that Qian is doing in maintaining his free plugin and we know (from past experience) how hard it is to provide good work with no compensation. We don’t want to make it more difficult to Qian.

    However, since people are asking, we’ll be creating an import tool from qTranslate.

    I’ll be interested to know who would like to test it.

    • I currently have my main website setup using qTranslate for German / English and am happy with it except for restrictions on which other plugins I can use (most won’t work with qTranslate without modifications).

      But now I have to setup a large customer site in German and English and as they have a shopping-cart I think WPML will be better choice. If all goes well then I’ll want to port my website from qTranslate to WPML in a few months.

  8. Ardiant says:

    Thanks for your litle comparison about those awesome plugins. My school site need to become multiligual site, at least 2 languages (Indonesian, English) and like as you say, I’d tried one-by-one wordpress plugins for translation, first I try qTranslate v2.5.28 and got no errors anywhere (I don’t know about subcribsion problem, I doesn’t use it).

    At couple time I try to looking for automated translation (like using google translator or bing translator) I found Transposh it’s easy to manage, although the translation maybe wrong and hard to customize the styling it help me for now.

    But, I’ll considering about using the WPML, looks cool. haha
    BTW, thanks for share your experiences about WordPress Translation Plugins.

    • Alexander says:

      Hi Ardiant,
      I receiving more and more experience with my multilingual site… :) May be about one ear ago I could say, “oh! how could you use google translator, it is not cool”… But I can’t say it right now. It depends yours goal. If your main language is English and all conversations, mailing in this language, probably you not need exactly and professional translations. So you can use Google translator. As I discovered mostly users don’t use direct switching to an article from one language to another. I mean if someone found an article in French so he/she continue read it in French. And if user used French for searching, logically French is his/her primary language. So for this French speaker no need go to Russian translation isn’t it? I concluded it after I had some problem with WPML (lost connection between translations). Technical support provided me solution. But that time I thought, “Is this function really needed for my family site?”
      Another things: not all plugins like multilingual sites… unfortunately it is true. So there is another way – just create sub-domains and install some WP engines for each language and make widget with switching to different domains. Now I thinking about it.
      Who has comments, notes etc?

      • Mbrsolution says:

        Hello Alexander I agree with the sub domain and install another WordPress. I have written a tutorial which uses this method. Click on the following link to view http://mbrsolution.com/blog/blogging/how-to-translate-a-wordpress-blog-into-another-language.php.

        You will notice that it is very simple to translate a WordPress website in another language using two or more installations of WrodPress and following my tutorial ;). Yes I know what many will say that to manage more than one WordPress installation is not simple. However you will never have a problem with a plugin crashing or not been up to date with the next release of WordPress because you are NOT using any :). Also if one website goes down you can still use the other even though is in another language unless the whole site “server” crashes. There are many pros and cons with both options. I guess you can try both and choose the method that makes you happy. I have used both plugins and I like both. I am still testing qtranslate and I keep an eye on it’s development because the developer and or the community keep tweaking and fixing the small issues that arise. I can’t test WPML anymore because it is commercial and yes I know that you can download an run it for a month and then ask for your money back if you are not satisfied.

        However I will not speak against either plugin because both are good in their own way. At the moment like I mentioned above I am using my method of 2 WordPress installations :)

        If anyone has a view about my method please share it with me. Kind regards :)

        • Alexander says:

          Hi “Mbrsolution”,
          I tested translator which you suggested… I have been laughing long time after it. I translated back a piece of my comment, just read, “I receiving more and more experience with my multilanguage place of living :) About one year ago I could say oh how can you used translator from Google – it is not cold” Funny isn’t it? The system has translated Google translator as a person from Google company I hired… :D But I agree with your solution for multilingual site – by using several installation of WP. At present time most of webhosters offer unlimited of SQL Databases. I have lot of photo albums and I wasn’t sure how can I resolve this problem with multiple installations but I found plugins like Shashin which can “take” photo albums from Picasa site.

          • Mbrsolution says:

            Thank you Alexander and as you can see there is always a way to fix an issue that you might encounter on the Internet :) and in this instance it is with WordPress translations.

            As I mentioned with my translation method above because I am fluent in English and Spanish I can always recheck the machine translation and improve it even more. The machine translation helps you by translating the little text and some words then you use your language skills if you are fluent in more than one language and improve on the translation i.e sentence, grammar verbs etc etc

            Kind regards

  9. Raj says:

    Hi,

    I am building a site for my client, it is a membership based site which needs t be built in English and french.

    I understood how all things will work but for one part I am still not sure, and that is Search part.

    There will be three types of search.
    1. Publication search (Post search/data search)
    2. User search on the basis of Location
    3. User search on the basis of expertise, experience etc.

    Will WPML be able to handle these issues using a single installation?

    Thanks
    R

    • Alexander says:

      Hi Raj,
      I not sure what you mean about “…User search on the basis of expertise…” But I’ll comment about publications search. I use on my site Relevanssi plugin for searching goals according WPML staff. It is means that Relevanssi works perfect with WPML in the other words Relevanssi’s author provided fully compatibility with the WPML. Actually on my site much more information than you can see (some info could be see by family members etc). I use free Relevanssi (basic) “inside” there are lot of settings which I don’t use. It can search on all languages. And there is Premium version of the Relevanssi which more extended and I sure there are other special “searching plugins”… As I said in my article you can test the WPML for 30 days with different searching plugins and show results to your client. If he/she will not like it WPML back your money.

  10. Gordon says:

    Hello Alexander.

    Nice blog which you have here ;) I came trough Google on your page, during the search for qtranslate. I’ve also decided now to make my blog in 2 languages. The best solution I found was qTranslate. But I got a lot of errors. Now, after I know the source of the failure, is it logical.

    I’ve started my blog in 2008 and only in German. Now there are pages of keywords, categories and articles already… of course. Now I’ve installed the plugin and to avoid duplicated content, I’ve marked the setting “hide content which is not in the selected language”. The problem is, the plugin gives an 404 error for all content which is not translated… categories, tags, article, posts and even archives with no (translated) articles. The 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools are rising to the sky at the moment.
    So, my work for the next year is to translate all articles into English :(

    If someone wants to have a multilingual webpage… he/she really should consider it from the beginning.

    Take care and go on writing… in 2 languages… respect! :)

  11. lemonthirst says:

    I’ve used a few plugins for translating content, but nothing compares tot wpml.
    I agree that qtranslate is free, it’s a good solution if don’t want to invest money.
    Anyway it has some nice features but it misses the multilingual meta tags…. in my case i really need them
    There is a workaround this issue, but neah to many plugins tend to mess up things sometimes.
    Thanks for the post!

  12. digg says:

    Hi, this article was very helpful for me.
    Thanks!

  13. Hakan says:

    Thanks for this very helpful article.

  14. Dan Z says:

    Thank you for this very helpful article!

    I went ahead and tried to switch from qTranslate to WPML, and it was a frustrating and fruitless experience.

    The developers promised me this would work smoothly, but I spent nearly a month with their support team (who are quite slow to respond), and it still didn’t convert my qTranslate database.

    In the end, they manually converted the database for me (by which time it was no longer up to date, so I had to manually transfer over several days worth of entries.)

    And, worst of all, when we finally got my site up and running with WPML, it was about TWICE AS SLOW as qTranslate!

    You can see the results of my testing here: http://wpml.org/forums/topic/slower-than-qtranslate/

    And the thread for trying to get the importer to work and the issues I had here:
    http://wpml.org/forums/topic/help-stuck-on-qtranslate-import/

    Best of luck. At this point I recommend qTranslate.

  15. Alexander says:

    Hi Dan Z,
    Thank you for interesting information.
    I visited your site (I took link from discussion on wpml site which you’ve provided).

    It spent about 2 or even 3 years but qTranslate still have problem with split comments according their language… So you can see that in some your articles in English there are comments in Hebrew (sorry can’t recognize language from Israel). It scare away for me to leave my comment because I have not idea what about you discussed before. As consequence I just leave your site if it works faster with qTranslate (if it even truth).

    It kind of there is company of 3 friends and you one of them… have meeting in a cafe. You all can speak English but suddenly your friends start speak in Chineese and they continue speak in their language in your presence. Do you like it?
    I sure visitors of my site will not like if I put here on this page big discussion in Russian or French because they expect all information in English including discussion/sharing about problems in comments.

    Unfortunately this fact leads to qTranslate still doesn’t ready for serious projects…

  16. Jolly_Wabba says:

    Sorry for the noob question but…
    Is it possible to activate both plugins (qTranslate and WPML) and use them on different pages?

    Is there any conflict?

  17. Rehan says:

    Hi Alexander,
    Thank you for this very beautiful article!

    I am using woocommerce and qTranslation plugin for mainting my site in english and arabic but my problem is that everything is translating in both language but custom fields are not translating in arabic.

    Can you suggest me better way to resolve this issue.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Alexander says:

      Hi Rehan,
      Considering your site is commercial I think you have to switch to WPML commercial or Multisite as soon as possible. Actually if you even will find the solution “today” for qTranslation plugin, there is no guarantee that translations will work “tomorrow”. In the other words WPML Commercial and Multisite are much more reliable than qTranslate.

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