I have long ago found that the static site generator [Pelican] (https://blog.getpelican.com/) needs to be replaced. Two problems pushed me to do so:

  1. RSS/Atom feeds are truncated, forcing the reader to visit my site.
  2. Support for internationalization is a sham instead of a full functionality.

Moreover, it is mainly for this second reason that I was not interested in [Jekyll] (https://gohugo.io/commands/hugo_import_jekyll/#readout).


Generating a site with Hugo is trivial. The project documentation does its job and writing an article consists in creating a text file with some tags.

Where it becomes more complex, it is to find a theme that simultaneously meets its need in terms of structuring information, updated with the latest changes made by Hugo and supporting internationalization.

My recommendation is to focus on the first two points. The last one is finally quite easy to solve.

Overall, the links in the themes are often problematic, it is necessary to pay attention to some points described in this page of the[documentation of internationalization with Hugo] (https://gohugo.io/content-management/multilingual/)

Really, read the documentation.

Hyde theme activation

First of all, here is the version of Hugo I use:

Hugo Static Site Generator v0.49 linux/amd64 BuildDate: 2018-09-24T10:03:17Z
  1. Let’s create the new site: hugo new site i18n-hyde
  2. This will create a i18n-hyde folder with the default structure.
  3. Download the hyde theme
  4. Move it to the themes folder on your site, to a folder called hyde.
  5. Modify the configuration file (by default config.toml), enter the theme used theme = "hyde".
  6. Create a new article: `hugo new posts/demo.md``
  7. Modify it by adding the content of your choice and remove the draft status.
  8. Start the site generation via: hugo server -D

Enable internationalization in Hugo

Well, now let’s add a little internationalization, modify the configuration file:

  1. Change the default language:
    • languageCode = "fr"
    • Description of the documentation: a string representing the language as defined. This is mostly used to populate the RSS feeds with the right language code.
  2. Tell Hugo that any content without language is in French by default:
    • DefaultContentLanguage = "fr"
    • Description of the documentation: Content without language indicator will default to this language.
  3. Tell Hugo that your articles are now in a sub-folder of the language name:
    • defaultContentLanguageInSubdir = true
    • Description of the documentation: Render the default content language in subdir, e.g. content/en/. The site root / will then redirect to /en/.
  4. In the folder of your site, create a folder fr in content.
  5. Move the folder posts to this folder fr.

You have probably already guessed it, the other languages will be in the same folder. Our little article from earlier is now available at the following address: http://localhost:1313/fr/posts/demo/


Let’s translate our article into several languages

Go to the content folder, copy your folder fr in ar for Arabic, oc for Occitan, en for English and ro for Romanian.

Easy, in the content folder, use this formula: bash for i in ar oc en ro; do cp -R fr $i ; done

To better test it, take a minute to put real content, both the title and the body of the article, by using a translation service (or by finding content in these languages, for example on Wikipedia).

Generate the site again: hugo server -D

Try it a moment:

It works without any problems. That’s a good start.

Now let’s look at the rest of the site:

  • The [home] (http://localhost:1313/) lists all articles regardless of language
  • The French homepage only lists the good article (same for other languages) but the formatting is bad.

In fact, that’s where we see the trap, we think it works but no. Hugo sees folders with articles, and simply generates the pages next to them.

You can see this, because when generating the site, when you enter hugo server -D, you only have one column for the pages corresponding to the language FR.

Progress report

So we have an internationalization substitute, it corresponds to what we could have with any static site generator, such as [Pelican] (https://blog.getpelican.com/), [Jekyll] (https://jekyllrb.com) or [Antora] (https://antora.org).

What we would like to have in addition, are all the small details that allow native support for local URLs, internal links, sitemaps, HTML LANG tags, etc.

Add internationalization to the theme

Start by notifying Hugo

Hugo needs to know which languages are to be activated. Here I do a rough configuration giving a translated title and the place where the content of each language is stored.

    title = "Mon démonstrateur d’internationalisation"
    contentDir = "content/fr"
    title = "مُستعرِضي للتدويل"
    contentDir = "content/ar"
    title = "Lo meu demostrator d’internacionalizacion"
    contentDir = "content/oc"
    title = "My internationalization demonstrator"
    contentDir = "content/en"
    title = "Demonstratorul meu de internaționalizare"
    contentDir = "content/ro"

Now restart hugo server -D, you only have one column for the pages corresponding to the language FR.

We can see one column per language, which is a good sign:

Catégorie AR OC EN RO FR
Pages 10 10 10 10 10
Paginator pages 0 0 0 0 0
Non-page files 0 0 0 0 0
Static files 6 6 6 6 6
Processed images 0 0 0 0 0
Aliases 1 1 1 1 1
Sitemaps 2 1 1 1 1
Cleaned 0 0 0 0 0

Accessing the local site by replacing fr with ar, oc, en or ro shows the content in the local language. That’s good!

List of fixes to be made

There are still a lot of small details to do:

  1. the main title of the site (the one on the left) does not include the language
  2. a button should be added to read the content in another language
  3. use URLs in the language of the articles
  4. Are all internal links consistent with the current language?
  5. the HTML LANG tag is not defined

Obviously, Hugo themes often use the variable .Site.BaseURL. This is the fixed address defined in the first line of our configuration file.

A simple command indicates where this variable is used: grep -R Site.BaseURL *

  • themes/hyde/layouts/partials/sidebar.html
    • This is our left menu → to fix
  • themes/hyde/layouts/partials/head.html
    • It is for our static files → to keep as is
  • themes/hyde/layouts/404.html
    • This is for the return button in case of page 404 → to keep as is

The fix is simple, just replace {{{.Site.BaseURL }} with {{{.Site.BaseURL | relLangURL }}.

We are beginning to understand what it means to “internationalization support”.

Correction 2 : list languages

A simple list will allow us to list the translated articles:

{{ if .IsTranslated }}
<ul class="nav-list">
    {{ range .Translations }}
        <a href="{{ .Permalink }}">{{ .Language.LanguageName }}</a>
    {{ end}}
{{ end }}

This will be added at the end of the following models:

  • in the article: themes/hyde/layouts/_default/single.html
  • in the sidebar : themes/hyde/layouts/partials/sidebar.html

We notice that we use the code {{{.Language.LanguageName }}. For some reason I don’t know, we have to add to our configuration file the variable languageName for each of our languages.

    title = "Mon démonstrateur d’internationalisation"
    contentDir = "content/fr"
    languageName = "Français"
    title = "بلدي تدويل المتظاهر"
    contentDir = "content/ar"
    languageName = "العربية"
    title = "El meu manifestant d’internacionalització"
    contentDir = "content/oc"
    languageName = "occitan"
    title = "My internationalization demonstrator"
    contentDir = "content/en"
    languageName = "English"
    title = "Demonstratorul meu de internaționalizare"
    contentDir = "content/ro"
    languageName = "Română"

By updating, we can see that it is working well. That’s good!

Fix 3: use the local language in the URL

Just add two lines to the configuration:

   posts = "/:year/:month/:title/"

Et voilà ! Our demo page has the following addresses:

  • French: http://localhost:1313/fr/2018/10/demo/
  • Romanian : http://localhost:1313/ro/2018/10/demonstra%C8%9Bie/
  • Arabic: http://localhost:1313/ar/2018/10/%D9%85%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B1%D8%A9/
  • Occitan: http://localhost:1313/oc/2018/10/demostraci%C3%B3/
  • English: http://localhost:1313/en/2018/10/demo/

In the same way as with the baseURL used for the side menu, check that the links pointing to the categories or tags of your content are consistent.

Correction 5: the HTML LANG tag

To get started, here isthe W3C recommendation and the explanation onwhy use this lang tag.

A simple command indicates where the html database is declared: grep -R "html" *

There is only one template page: themes/hyde/layouts/partials/head.html.

We will simply add lang="{{{.Site.Language.Lang }}" xml:lang="{{{.Site.Language.Lang }}" to our HTML tag.

Bonus: clean up the theme

Remember to remove all things harmful to the web.

In this theme we find a reference to Google Analytics and Disqus, but above all a systematic call to Google Fonts.

The files to be modified are as follows, it takes two minutes and the web will only get better:

  • themes/hyde/layouts/_default/baseof.html
  • themes/hyde/layouts/_default/single.html
  • themes/hyde/layouts/partials/head.html
  • themes/hyde/layouts/partials/head_fonts.htm


We now have a static and multilingual website:)

Thank you Hugo.