Easy, easy, easy...
We all know the advantages of Wordpress! It's ridiculously easy to use, does not require PHP nor HTML knowledge and all you need to start is to choose a plugin or a template and click on it to install, which makes it a great choice for beginners.
The good news is plugins like WPML or Qtranslate can be a major relief in handling the translation process of a website that is powered by our beloved Wordpress. What is what, you say? Let me explain in the easiest possible way: WPML is an user interface of Translation Management System.
It practically allows you to run a multilingual website with a single WordPress installation, giving you an User Interface to handle all of your content’s translation in one place - like WPML and other UI description, screenshots and more.
The XLIFF format (Localization Interchange File Format) to be exact, is an XML-based format created to facilitate interoperability between different localization and translation tools. Cool, no? It is basically an ideal format for assisted translation tools.
Now the important part- what's IN there? So, the XLIFF files contain the entire content marked for translation, which also includes the title, body and even any custom field that are enabled for translation.
To use the XLIFF translation interface, you need to have WPML's Translation Management module activated. With the XLIFF module, you will be able to send XLIFF files as email attachments from the Translation Dashboard and when translations are complete, you can easily upload them.
Just look at this to imagine the process:
How Wordpress handles the translation process natively?
There are two ways the translation of Wordpress based website is performed:
1) From the WordPress dashboard.
To be honest, any experienced translator can perform translation from the dashboard in the text editor, working on posts, pages and slugs. The only problem with this method is that the translator could not use assisted translation tools enabling you to see texts in parallel, the use of glossaries and translation memories. Also, you wouldn't be aware of the variety of different HTML tags.
2) Through assisted translation tools.
It would be necessary to previously export the content using a format that is friendly for assisted translation tools: CSV or XLIFF that we've been talking about. Translation of text strings can be performed by using POT (Portable Object Template) and PO (Portable Object) files that developers put at users’ disposal.
PhpMyAdmin: export and import CSV files
WordPress content can be translated from the admin panel but also through computer-assisted translation tools (CAT tools), as either CSV or XLIFF files (pages, posts and categories) or through PO files (text strings contained in themes or plugins).
CSV files comma-separated values are, on the other hand, a type of document that allows you to represent data in tabular form. Assisted translation tools 'understand' these files perfectly even if they contain HTML code.
WordPress uses PHP language as well as a database to store and retrieve information contained in a series of tables, each of which has a different mission.
For the management of MySQL databases, there is an excellent tool called phpMyAdmin that allows you to export and import the content in different formats: CSV, PDF, XML, Word, YAML, SQL and more.
For any normal WordPress user it's not really necessary to know the structure of the WordPress database, however exporting and importing content through phpMyAdmin is pretty much essential to understand the functioning and structure of the tables in the WordPress database.
After successful translation, the CSV Excel file must be imported to the appropriate tables of the WordPress database using phpMyAdmin.
Another option which also allows you to export and import content in CSV format is simply using a plugin. There are free plugins (for example, WP CSV) and freemium plugins (WP Ultimate CSV Importer Plugin which also has a free version), which allow export and import of CSV files.
Although it may not sound like a piece of cake - it pretty much is!
The Wordpress experience is exactly the place where plugins come in and make the translation of your website continuous, manageable and what's perhaps the most important - much easier. And you have much more control and insight of all your (un)translated content.