Multilingual intranets: Automating your localization process with Microsoft Flow and Translator

In this quickly globalizing world, companies often need to consider multinational aspects. This means the communication tools, along with the intranet, need to be multilingual too. How does SharePoint manage the automation process in multilingual intranets? 

This article is based on a webinar co-hosted with ClearBox Consulting 1st February 2018. You can watch the “Managing Multilingual intranets”  on YouTube.

Bad news

Let’s face it. In the SharePoint world, building a multilingual intranet isn’t easy. The “official” multilingual tool in SharePoint, the variations feature, is not reliable, based on our experiences from several customer projects.

SharePoint also has a Multilingual User Interface (MUI), but MUI doesn’t address the translation of the content itself – only the user interface elements (document library buttons, web part titles, navigation elements, etc.).

Good news

We don’t have to wait for Microsoft to come up with a new, robust multilingual solution! The tools, Microsoft Flow and Microsoft Translator,  are already there, available in the cloud version of SharePoint (only, no on-prem solution!).

The following example gives an idea of how easy it is to create time-saving helper functions with Microsoft Flow, and how easily it connects with Microsoft Translator.

Information architecture

For a multilingual SharePoint intranet, most companies divide the contents into site collections per country (or by language). Typically, you have one global content site and multiple country (or language) sites. There are also other ways to set up the information architecture, but this seems to be the industry standard. This is also how Valo Intranet works.

Valo Multilingual information architecture

Example: Alert news

Alert news is a special type of content in Valo. It’s a piece of news that is quick to publish. Content producers use it for announcing something urgent.

Publishing an alert news has to be straightforward; It doesn’t require an image or anything – just filling in a couple of basic fields and you’re done. Technically, it’s a custom list in SharePoint.

The alert news is prominent on top of the front page. And, the users get a push notification. Technically, the alert news is a custom list and a UI component to display it.

Alert news – always on top of the page

 

Alert news edit view

What does pushing an alert news have to do with multilingual intranets?

In a typical scenario, each country (i.e. each site collection) has their own alert news structure and functionality. This is because the countries probably have a need to publish their local alerts.

But what if the global content manager wants to push a global alert news to the countries?

Enter Flow & Translator to do the following:

  • Copy the alert news from the global site to a local site (Germany in this example) as a draft
  • Translate its Title & Body fields to German
  • Send an email alert to the German content producer with the original and translated copy text, and with a link to the translated draft item

The overall steps of Flow diagram

Let’s have a look at the translation steps in detail.

In fact, there is not much detail to look at, because one translation action is as simple as this (Flow has a built-in connector for Microsoft Translator):

How to translate a list column

In this example, the email notification action was set up as follows:

Creating the email notification in Flow

When an alert news is published on the Global site, this Flow kicks off, the German content producer gets the email alert, opens the draft, and sees this:

The alert news draft item on the German site

The German content producer then corrects the translation (if necessary) and publishes the item. Easy as that!

The published alert news on the German site

Final word

We could further improve this example Flow in many ways: instead of email, we could post the notification to a content producers’ channel in Microsoft Teams. Or we could add a notification to the chief content producer when the content producers in each country have fulfilled their task and published the alert.

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Valo Intranet is a Multilingual Enterprise Intranet solution, available in 20 languages and with a Multilingual framework out-of-the-box. To discuss further how Valo Intranet could help you to solve your multilingual challenges book a demo with us, we’d be happy to tell you more!

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