Working in multilingual systems

Collections system can be multilingual, with fields configured to accept data in two or more languages. Note that not all fields in a multilingual system necessarily need to be multilingual and therefore translatable. As we see in the Field properties box in this example, the Notes field (dating.notes (DO)) is configured to be multilingual (Multi lingual = True):


Editing records

There are two approaches to editing your multilingual data, one macro, the other micro. The macro approach is to change the Data language so that all your multilingual data is viewed and edited in the selected language. The micro approach is to edit the multilingual data in a single field at a time without needing to change the Data language.

Changing the Data language

Data in each available language can be viewed and edited by selecting a language from the Data language drop list in the Main menu (or the top Toolbar in earlier versions of Collections). Changing the Data language changes the language in which all your multilingual data is displayed and edited: any values you add to multilingual fields are associated with the selected language.

To assist with keeping track of which data language is currently active (and minimizing the risk of entering data in the wrong language), the active data language is indicated beside the data source name in the Title bar1:

Note that it is possible to change the language used for labels in the User Interface independently of the language used for data.

One field at a time: the Edit multilingual texts option

Changing the Data language changes the language in which all your multilingual data is displayed and edited. However, it is possible to edit multilingual values in a single field without changing the Data language. In versions of Collections prior to version 1.11, the Edit multilingual texts icon appears in the Record details View toolbar:

The icon is disabled until the cursor is in a (non-linked) multilingual fieldClosed the value that displays in a Linked field is pulled from the linked record; in this case we translate the value in the linked record, not in the current multilingual field itself (more details here).

With the release of Collections 1.11 the Edit multilingual texts icon has been removed from the Record details View toolbar and displays in multilingual fields themselves to make it easier in Edit modeClosed A record is either in Display mode (we view its details) or Edit mode (we add or edit its details). A record enters Edit mode as soon as we create a new record, copy a record in Record details View or edit an existing record. to identify whether a field is multilingual:

Depending on your version of Collections:

  • Click the Edit multilingual texts icon in the Record details View toolbar (or use the keyboard shortcut, CTRL+M) when the cursor is in a multilingual field.


  •  Right-click a multilingual field and select Edit multilingual texts from the context menu.


  • Click the Edit multilingual texts flag in a field (Collections version 1.11 onwards).

The Multilingual Data box will open enabling you to view and edit data in all available languages for the current field and (optionally) specify that one of the translations is an invariantClosed In a multilingual environment an invariant value is one that displays in any available language until a translation is provided: if an invariant value is English and it has not been translated into French, the English value will display when the Data language is French until a French translation of the value is provided.:

Editing Linked fields in a multilingual system

If a multilingual field is also a Linked fieldClosed A type of field used to link one record to another. A Linked field is a drop list of values (records that the field can link to). When a link is made, the field stores a reference to the linked record (a linkref)., it is not possible to translate the value by selecting the Edit multilingual texts option: values in Linked fields are pulled from the linked record and must be translated in the linked record.

In Display mode a value in a Linked field displays as a hyperlink:

The simplest way to display the linked record and translate it is to click the hyperlinked value.

More details

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