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Tips on using SharePoint in a multilingual environment

SharePoint 2019 Machine Translation Service is broken

It's been a busy week at PointFire, with three version releases.  Version 2.2.3 of PointFire 365 came out, with several improvements, the much anticipated version 1.1.0 of PointFire Power Translator, and the final beta of PointFire 2019.  PointFire 2019 v1.0 was scheduled to be released this week, but instead it still remains in beta.  The reason: SharePoint 2019's Machine Translation Service is broken.

The list of deprecated features for SharePoint 2019 was clear; it said "The Machine Translation Service will remain supported but deprecated for the SharePoint Server 2019 release."  But version after version, farm after farm, we could never get the service to work on SharePoint 2019 farms.  Finally a week ago our support ticket with Microsoft reached a conclusion:  the Machine Translation Service does not work.  At all, under any configuration they tried.  The product group is aware.

PointFire 2019 has the option of using the Machine Translation Service for certain translations.  The other option (besides, you know, humans) is to use PointFire Power Translator with its better speed, accuracy, scriptability and flexibility.  The benefit of the Machine Translation Service is that it is free.  But we can't release something with a feature that we never fully tested.  Microsoft might, but not us.  So PointFire 2019 is still officially in beta, and we will see in a few weeks whether we remove the option or whether SharePoint 2019 gets fixed.

Localization of SPFx webparts in Microsoft Teams tabs

This post was prompted by a conversation with Bob German, a Partner Technology Architect for Microsoft.

In his talk at the Collaboration Summit in Branson MO, he touted the localization features of developing custom tabs for Teams using SPFx.

We chatted a bit after that, and discussed the fact that Microsoft Teams has a language setting that is independent of the language settings in the Office 365 user profile, which SharePoint uses.  I was of the opinion that even within a Teams tab, the SPFx webpart would follow the SharePoint language setting.  So let's try it out.

There is some very useful very complete guidance for localizing SharePoint SPFx webparts here

It is simple to create a small example webpart and localize the manifest, the property pane, and the content using the SharePoint guidance.  In this case, it was localized in English and Dutch.  Turning that webpart into a Microsoft Teams tab is just a matter of adding an extra manifest file and zipping it.

Add the webpart's sppkg file to your site catalog and ensure that the “Make this solution available to all sites in the organization” option is checked, so that the web part can be used from Microsoft Teams, then Deploy.


Then in Teams, select "Manage team" then the Apps tab, then "More apps" and "Upload a custom app".  Upload the "manifest.zip" file created earlier, which refers to the app in your app catalog.  Then click on the app name and click on Install, then setup and Save.  Let's have a look.

Here, both my Teams language setting and my SharePoint language setting are English. 

Let's change the Teams language setting.  You can do that by clicking on your picture then on Settings and selecting a new language.


I picked Dutch and re-started the Teams app.  So now the Teams interface, near the top of the screenshot, is mostly in Dutch, while the webpart is still in English.


If we do it the other way around, with the Teams setting in English and SharePoint in Dutch, we have the opposite effect, the Teams interface is in English and the webpart/tab is in Dutch.  So the SharePoint language setting determines the language of the localization of the custom tab.


We will go further still. Go to the SharePoint site that was created when the team was created.  Go to the site settings and remove Dutch as an alternate language of that site without removing it as your personal language preference.


Go back to Teams and now the webpart is back to English.  This is because the language of the tab is not just determined by your Office 365 profile language setting, it is determined by the ability of the associated SharePoint site to render its interface in that language, as though the tab was a webpart on that site.

Many thanks to my colleague Srikanta Barik for his help.
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