Charmed by the relatively simple (no new DB tables, no endless configuration like WPML) but still powerful plugin that qTranslate is, I am considering to start using it for a public Multi-site setup I am currently developing. It will be WP3.0 with Networking (MULTISITE) enabled, allowing many people to start a simple blog/site. The network will be dedicated to a particular region in France so it will not be a global community. Still there will be need for translations since the area heavily depends on tourism. Hence my search for a good multi-language plugin.
Now here is the thing: after testing about all the language plugins around that seemed to offer what I am looking for, only two serious candidates remain. The two big ones: qTranslate and WPML. Now WPML is still not really ready for WP3.0 except when I would set the network up so that individual blog owners can activate it themselves. They would then have to start manage the settings and there is where I fear it will go wrong. Its just a bit too complicated for simple folk that just want a little website where they can present themselves in three different languages.
qTranslate is much easier in that respect and the back end does not invite people to go and mess it all up so much. Even though they still can... (!)
So what I am going to propose is basically a package of changes to make qTranslate truly ready for the "multi site + public registration" setup that will be available in WP3.0 as it has been in WPMU up till now. These suggestions are all with new blog owners in mind that do not know WordPress let alone even heard about qTranslate. Basically, the main thought is to make it as fool proof as possible even if that means locking some options to a fixed setting to prevent total site breakage:
I. SUPER ADMIN (GLOBAL) LANGUAGE SETTINGS
In WP3 there is a new concept: Super Admin and the Super Admin menu. This only comes available after activating the MULTISITE feature. Its something from WPMU and allows those that have complete network-wide admin rights (as opposed to those individual blog owners that only have site/blog-wide admin rights) to control major network settings.
Now in its current state, qTranslate (activated either network-wide or per blog) gives full configuration rights to the individual blog owner. This brings along some major problems:
1. A new blog owner cannot be expected to immediately grasp the qTranslate concept and when confronted with default settings that make no sense (english probably, german maybe but chinese is very unlikely to be ever used on a French blog) is likely to get so frustrated he/she will just abandon the whole site and both I and qTranslate Services will lose potential customers.
2. A setting like URL Modification Mode allowing for example Pre-Domain Mode (ex. http://en.yoursite.com) on a MULTISITE setup with SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL (formerly VHOST in WPMU) set to true, will break a new blog owners site when activated. The new blog owner will not understand what hit him/her and leave. Again we loose.
3. The automatic Update Gettext Databases feature might cause a conflict when it is activated from two different blogs at the same time and updates co-inside causing a server error and .mo file corruption. Just thinking out loud here and not sure about this but potentially NOT a nice thing....
4. Things like Convert Database simply cannot be allowed to be used by individual blog owners. Stuff like that might corrupt the complete database. This, obviously, we REALLY do not want happening on our network.
So what I propose is this: make qTranslate detect MULTISITE global value (maybe not even necessary?) and if found, create a second settings page for Super Admin only. On this page, Super Admin > Languages, the network admin should be able to set new default options (that apply to each new blog created in the future) AND determine either for individual options or for groups of options (example the complete Advanced section!) whether they can or cannot be modified on a blog/site level by each new blog owner.
This way a network admin can set qTranslate to be as fool-proof or user-friendly or feature-rich as he/she wants or thinks the target blog owners are capable of handling
II. AUTO-DETECT GLOBAL LANGUAGE VALUE
For instance, on the network I am setting up I want new blogs to have French as their main language. So I put
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define ('WPLANG', 'fr_FR');
If qTranslate would auto detect the WPLANG global value and auto-enable the equivalent preconfigured language and make it default at the same time... that would be just so much more user friendly.
III. LANGUAGE CHOOSER WIDGET AUTO-ACTIVATION
Have the plugin insert the language widget in the main sidebar automatically as long as it is not done manually. Preferable controllable from the qTranslate options page during the first setup. If that is too difficult since it depends completely on the theme where the best place is for the Language switcher widget, simply activating it in the first sidebar found would be even better than nothing.
New wordpress user that are still learning about the WP settings cannot be expected to be aware of the fact they need to go and activate the Language switcher widget (if they even know what widgets are!) to get those flags flying on the front end... Unless of course qTranslate would display a admin message saying they need to go and check the language settings and activate the widget...
IV. TRANSLATE SERVICES AFFILIATE PROGRAM
One of the nicer features of the other language plugin, WPML, is the possibility to become an affiliate member of their translation service so that the network owner might get some revenue (30% in their case) from opening up a completely new and potentially large clientèle to their service.
You have to admit: its a nice teaser! If qTranslate where to have this too, I'd start with the plugin right away even if the first three suggestions have not been implemented despite the extra work having to personally configure qTranslate on each individual blog.