There are not so many business applications which need multilingual content. I exclude any kind of CMS’s, they aren’t “true” business application anyway, in my opinion. But the current project I’m working on has that kind of requirement – most of the data must be available in multiple languages and users should easily and intuitively browse and edit that data in current working language. Part of this requirement is not so easy to achieve. Especially when there is a constraint that there cannot be a default language in it’s standard term – object may be available in any language and even only in that language.

Currently we are using a single translations table where translation is identified by it’s context which is mostly some sort of object/field key or basically can be any string. All the translatable fields are stored in the entity table also as a “original value”. This solution is far from perfect and do not fit very well into domain model in general. It was meant to be a quick draft of the solution.

Usually, this kind of translation should be invisible in domain model perspective. But in my case I think it should be reflected in domain model also, because it IS one of the purpose and requirement of the business application. There are two possible viewpoints to consider – a technical perspective and a user’s point of view. I’ve explored different models that people have used before and I think that the solution that Davy Brion describes seems the best one.

It is tied to the domain object. That means there are direct relation between entity and it’s translations. It simplifies CRUD operations on it, NHibernate can take care of it itself. Searching from localized versions are also quite simple, performance overhead is minimal.
It uses a single translations table. Actually there are couple of tables, but all translations are stored and accessed from one place. This makes later maintenance simpler and don’t create so much noise in the domain model (and in data model also).
It’s quite simple to extend and it fits perfectly into NHibernate. I find that for my solution I should also apply the default language attribute on the translation, because for different object, the term default language can mean different language from what is global default languages, if such exists.

When using this model, every translatable property (a product’s name for example) is an object which holds at least one localization. We don’t have a term original like I have seen in some models, every value is a localization. This makes things simpler in users point of view.

I don’t write about any technical data, you can check that on Davy’s blog, but I will update this blog post when I do any changes to this model. And I’ll try to provide some samples then.

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