I am new to the Drupal community, but am quite excited by the potential that I see in the work that you have done. I'd like to make a case for better support for multi-lingual sites. I know that quite a lot of work has gone into making the code available in alternate languages, but there are a lot of cases where an organization may want to have more than one.
But first a bit of history. Back-End is a GPL PHP/MySQL CMS which my company, OpenConcept Consulting has been developing now for the last 3-4 years. We initially developed code to make the CMS bilingual because there was a clear need for a few of our clients to have a site which was available in both English & French. We did this by simply adding a few language dependent columns to existing tables. It soon became apparent that although bilingual was good, multi-lingual would be much better, so we began developing a data structure where all of the data could be stored in the language of choice. We have developed English/French, English/Farsi(Persian), English/French/Spanish using this CMS and will be working on an English/French/Farsi/Arabic one shortly.
We have also been developing a number of Take Action tools for this framework. OpenConcept works with a lot of national NGOs, unions & progressive politicians in Canada and the USA.
Since the adoption of Drupal by DeanSpace (now CivicSpace), we have become increasingly interested in watching the development of this code base. There is considerable crossover between the work we've been doing for our clients and the work that is being done by many of the people who are using drupal code. We've decided that it is worth the gamble to build an upgrade path so that we can migrate our existing clients over to Drupal.
This isn't going to be easy. There are some similar concepts, but we have developed a lot of custom code for our clients needs. We couldn't have even considered this before the i18n module was set up.
I have been talking to a number of Drupal advocates this spring, all of which acknowledged that Drupal still does not handle multi-lingual objects all that well, but all were convinced that it was an issue that was taken seriously by core developers and was part of the roadmap. Multi-lingual objects are particularly important here in Canada where almost any national organization needs to present information in both English & French. Many organizations in the states are starting to offer English/Spanish (and quite a lot more should be than presently do).
I've collected a list of existing Drupal sites that are presently working on being (or at least looking) multi-lingual (please feel free to contribute):
Some of these sites actually have two installs of drupal, and even two different teams of people maintaining content (one for each language). However, this isn't a very sustainable approach for most organizations and certainly would add to the cost of maintaining the code base (and ensuring parallel content)
They started this early in the year and due to their deadline (and the state of the i18n module at the time they first looked at it) they decided to write their own module to make their site bilingual. It is presently the most fully multi-linugal install of Drupal I've seen. Although because they crafted their own stand alone solution supporting this for future upgrades of Drupal will not be easy. The key developer has recently been talking to Jose and is interested in contributing back to the project.
Labour unions are starting to get interested in Drupal:
(there will be a website up soon...)
Many unions (in Canada, EU & even the USA) either require either completely bilingual content or at least some bilingual content on their site. The same is true for many levels of government and community groups who may be servicing a multi-lingual community. There is a movement within Labour groups to start using more Open Source software. Drupal is an obvious chose for many organizations (we should have our first union client using a drupal site this fall).
Multi-lingual sites will start to be more common in:
- Elections (where candidates are trying to appeal to specific communities in their riding)
- Campaigns (particularly international campaigns), where a global response is requested
- National sites, where bilingualism is a requirement (or preference).
It is also good for Drupal's business needs as serving multi-lingual objects well in a CMS is still rather new and very few OpenSource or proprietary applications deal with it very well. Jose Reyero has done an excellent job in setting up the i18n module. His module/core patches offer a very sound foundation for future work. Without substantially altering the data model patches allow for translation links to exist. See the following for a better picture:
There will still be the challenge of adding multi-lingual object support to other modules, but having these changes made to the core code is key.
Allowing people to see a site in the language of their choice is already important for many organizations. Most will not have the resources or technical skill to implement this themselves. If it were an optional module that could be installed by your average Drupal administrator then I think we'd find a lot more people setting up multi-lingual sites. If core support isn't available for multi-lingual objects then you'll find that Drupal just won't be considered for a number of projects.