Sitecore 8.1 Language Fallback Feature

August 2, 2016 Mohamed Gamal

GPI has extensive experience interfacing with a variety of Web Content Management System (WCMS) products in order to help clients author and publish multilingual content destined for an array of target formats.

WCMS provide a platform used by both individuals and organizations to power their online web identities. WCMS allow website authors to store, edit, share and publish content in multiple formats (e.g. document types/formats, languages, etc.).

Sitecore is a global leader in experience management software with their WCMS. The Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) 8.1 has introduced significant contextual intelligence enhancements which allow marketers to turn every customer interaction into an extraordinary experience. The enhancement platform offers customers relevant content in the appropriate context at the right time across multiple channels.


New Language Fallback Features

The Language Fallback feature of Sitecore XP 8.1 allows developers to define a predictable model for handling languages when website visitors view a page that does not have a relevant language version.

To get started, you must configure the appropriate Fallback Language for each of your enabled languages. This is done, using the new "Fallback Language" field in the language definition under /system/languages.

The example, below shows German as the currently selected language and its Fallback Language is set to English (United Kingdom).

gpi-sitecore language fallback-1


This field allows languages to fall back multiple times based on the associated languages versions. For example, consider a website which supports the following languages:

  1. French - Belgium
  2. French - Canada
  3. French - Luxembourg
  4. French - France
  5. Arabic - U.A.E
  6. English - United Kingdom

A possible fallback language configuration, could be setup as follows:

French - Belgium (fr-BE)

French - Canada (fr-CA)

French - Luxembourg (fr-LU)

French - France (fr-FR)


English - United Kingdom (en-GB)



Arabic - U.A.E (ar-AE)


Here fr-FR and ar-AE fall back to en-GB, while fr-BE, fr-CA and fr-LU fallback to fr-FR.

Based on your specific language needs, you can configure your language fallbacks to fall back to a third option, and to a fourth, and so on. This is called Chained Language Fallback.


How to Enable Language Fallback Features

The new Sitecore 8.1 Granular Language Fallbacks settings are disabled by default. To begin using them, you must enable it on each relevant website via Sitecore configuration, on each individual item or on the template field definition items.

Your changes can be implemented within the /App_Config/Include/Sitecore.LanguageFallback.config file or your custom configuration include file. Using a custom configuration include file is highly recommended as it avoids being overwritten in future Sitecore upgrades.


<site name="shell">

<patch:attribute name="enableItemLanguageFallback">true</patch:attribute>

<patch:attribute name="enableFieldLanguageFallback">true</patch:attribute>


<site name="website">

<patch:attribute name="enableItemLanguageFallback">true</patch:attribute>

<patch:attribute name="enableFieldLanguageFallback">true</patch:attribute>

<patch:attribute name="enforceVersionPresence">true</patch:attribute>



If you are running a single website installation, you can simply modify the 'shell' and 'website' sites. In the event you are using a multisite environment and you only want to enable language fallback on a subset of websites, then you must create a specific 'shell' site for each website where you want the language fallback feature enabled.


Further GPI Resources on Connectors and Website Development

GPI offers custom  CMS Translation Connectors to a variety of web content management systems in order to streamline localization workflows and access to translation project information across your enterprise. Connectors and Plug-In's include:

You may also find some of the following articles and links useful:

Globalization Partners International (GPI) frequently assists customers with multilingual website design, development and deployment, and has developed a suite of globalization tools to help you achieve your multilingual website localization project goals. You can explore them under the  Translation tools and Portals section of our website.

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs. You may request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

About the Author

Mohamed Gamal

Mohamed is a native Arabic speaker from Giza, Egypt. He has over 5 years’ experience in software and website development projects. His experience includes working with multiple web frameworks and approaches to web development using a range of tools and technologies including C#, ASP.Net MVC, LINQ, PHP, Django, HTML5/CSS3, JS, NodeJS, AngularJS, JQuery, MqSql PostgreSQL, SQL Server & VoIP with O.S.: Linux, Windows, OSX. He has experience in GIS and data collection projects working as a GEO-Spatial Application Developer. Mohamed has worked with various companies including CartoLogic and Tawasol.

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