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Adding internationalization to your Nuxt.js applications

Implementing internationalization (commonly known as i18n) is often feared by a lot of Front-End developers. Setting it up, adding new languages on the fly & UX are often main concerns when it comes to it.

Thankfully, Nuxt.js makes the whole process extremely easy. In this short post, I’ll cover how to set up i18n for a Nuxt application, step by step.

The finished product can be found on Codesandbox here.

Step 1: Installing vue-i18n and setting it up

We’ll use the well known vue-i18n package to handle internationalization.

Start by installing it:

# Using npm
npm install vue-i18n

# Using yarn
yarn add vue-i18n 

Then, define it as a plugin in our configuration file:

// nuxt.config.js

export default {
  // ...

  plugins: ["~/plugins/i18n.js"],

  // ...
};

We now need to create the aforementioned i18n.js file that will configure our plugin:

// plugins/i18n.js

import Vue from "vue";
import VueI18n from "vue-i18n";

// Tell Vue to use our plugin
Vue.use(VueI18n);

export default ({ app }) => {
  // Set the i18n instance on app
  // This way we can use it globally in our components through this.$i18n
  app.i18n = new VueI18n({
    // Set the initial locale
    locale: "en",

    // Set the fallback locale in case the current locale can't be found
    fallbackLocale: "en",

    // Associate each locale to a content file    
    messages: {
      en: require("~/static/content-en.json"),
      fr: require("~/static/content-fr.json")
    }
  });
};

Don’t forget to create your json files that will contain your textual values for each language. In our case, we could have:

// static/content-en.json
{
  "title": "Hello, how are you?"
}

and

// static/content-fr.json
{
  "title": "Bonjour, comment allez-vous?"
}

We’ll be able to access each one of these values in our components like so:

// Will return the correct string based on the current locale
this.$t("title")

Step 2: Changing our locale on the fly

All we have to do is update the i18n context object’s locale attribute when we need to change the language.

Here’s a method that takes care of it:

changeLanguage(lang) {  
  // Change the i18n context object's locale
  // This makes it so the correct locale file is used
  this.$i18n.locale = lang;
}

And here’s this method used in the context of a component:

<template>
  <section>
    <h1>{{ title }}</h1>
    
    <div>
      <button @click="changeLanguage('en')">EN</button>       
      <button @click="changeLanguage('fr')">FR</button>
    </div>
  </section>
</template>

<script>
export default {
  computed: {
    title() {
      // this.$t("title") returns the value of our title attribute in our JSON file
      // The correct file is selected based on the locale value
      // If it was an object, we could access its attributes like so: this.$t("myObject").myAttribute
      return this.$t("title");
    }
  },
  methods: {
    /**
     * Called when a language button is clicked
     * Changes the i18n context variable's locale to the one selected
     */
    changeLanguage(lang) {  
      this.$i18n.locale = lang;
    }
  }
};
</script>

Step 3: Wait, there’s no step 3?

Yeah, that’s pretty much all you need to know to handle i18n in a Nuxt application.
Of course, there are many ways of customizing your user experience as can be seen in the official documentation.

I hope this has helped some of you figure our i18n in the context of your Nuxt projects.
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