Tutorial: Internationalization



Internationalization allows Handsontable to easily change the text of the UI for the purpose of translating it to specific languages. We provide the developer with predefined languages (which can be applied by loading the language set and changing just one setting) and an ability to use their own language sets, created using templates of existing language files.

We are looking for contributors who would like to help us in adding new translations to Handsontable. Learn more.

Loading the prepared language files

To properly use the internationalization feature, you'll need to load the language sets. It's important, that they're included after the Handsontable files. You can do it by getting the necessary files (they were created using UMD standard):

  1. from /dist/languages folder inside your HTML file

    <script type="text/javascript" src="dist/handsontable.full.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="dist/languages/all.js"></script>

    Note: Please keep in mind, that you can also use the minified versions of the files from the /dist/languages folder.

  2. from the /languages folder located in the root of the project, to be used by module systems; the example below shows how to use it with ECMAScript 6 (you will need a bundler or TypeScript).

    Usage for Handsontable Pro Edition:

    import Handsontable from 'handsontable-pro';
    import 'handsontable-pro/languages/pl-PL';

    Usage for Handsontable Community Edition:

    import Handsontable from 'handsontable';
    import 'handsontable/languages/pl-PL';

Languages included this way are ready to use immediately after loading the file. More about other language-specific files and language registration for Handsontable can be found in this section.


Please right click on a cell to see the translated context menu. Language files were loaded after loading Handsontable.

Internationalization for features

Below you'll find a list of features which can be translated with the internationalization feature.

  • Dropdown menu
  • Filtering
  • Hiding columns
  • Hiding rows
  • Nesting rows
  • Comments
  • Context menu
  • Custom borders
  • Freezing
  • Merge cells
  • Read-only

List of available languages

By default, Handsontable uses the English - United States language-country set (en-US code) for creating the text of UI elements. However, it can be used like every extra, "non-standard" language file, thus the en-US.js file can be found in /dist/languages, /languages and /src/languages folders. Currently, we also distribute extra language-country files:

  • de-DE.js for German - Germany (de-DE code).
  • de-CH.js for German - Switzerland (de-CH code).
  • es-MX.js for Spanish - Mexico (es-MX code).
  • fr-FR.js for French - France (fr-FR code).
  • it-IT.js for Italian - Italy (it-IT code).
  • ja-JP.js for Japanese - Japan (ja-JP code).
  • nb-NO.js for Norwegian (Bokmål) - Norway (nb-NO code).
  • nl-NL.js for Dutch - Netherlands (nl-NL code).
  • pl-PL.js for Polish - Poland (pl-PL code).
  • pt-BR.js for Portuguese - Brazil (pt-BR code).
  • ru-RU.js for Russian - Russia (ru-RU code).
  • zh-CN.js for Chinese - China (zh-CN code).
  • zh-TW.js for Chinese - Taiwan (zh-TW code).

Hierarchy of all the main files connected with internationalization

Information within this paragraph may be useful mainly for people who would like to add new or edit already existing language. The simple way of using the prepared languages is described here. All the changes we're mentioning below should be made to Handsontable CE.

In Handsontable CE, we currently have 3 folders with files that can be treated as languages files:

  • /dist/languages*
  • /languages*
  • /src/i18n/languages

Files from the two first folders are built as UMD modules by webpack (can be prepared by using the following npm scripts: build:languages and build:languages.min). The last, /src directory contains modules created using the ES2015 standard.

To use the language dictionaries, you'll have to register the language sets. Registration is a process of loading the dictionaries globally for Handsontable using the Handsontable.languages.registerLanguageDictionary method.

The general purpose of these directories is summarized in the table below:

Name Files in /dist/languages and /languages folders Files in /src/i18n/languages folder
Usage Included as separate file Used inside Handsontable as a part of library (default language)
File source Created by webpack during the build process, transpiled by Babel Created manually, can be transpiled by Babel
Language registration Applied in the process of building with webpack Not registered automatically
Modifications Should not be edited, as they're created automatically Created and edited manually

Please keep in mind that the files inside the /dist/languages folder are a copy of files located inside /languages, with two differences. The first folder contains additional, minified versions of the files. Also, it doesn't contain the index.js file (/languages folder contains it for the purpose of easier loading of all the languages).

Both of these folders contain the all.js file, containing all of the language dictionaries.

Creating custom languages

You can create custom language sets for your implementations, or share them, as they're easily appliable to any Handsontable implementation.

Language file

It's really important for us, that the community is a important part of the growth of our library. We encourage you to create and share your translations!

Additional languages files should be placed in the src/i18n/languages folder of the Handsontable CE repository with name corresponding to the chosen language code (described below, for example: es-VE.js). You can incorporate your translations to the Handsontable library by sending us a pull request. It's important, that your changes are not made to the /languages and /dist/languages directories! Our release master will generate files which will be placed there in the building process. After that, you will be able to use the languages in Handsontable Pro

You can see a full template of a sample language at the bottom of this paragraph. We're basing it on our default language pack. Parts of the file creation process are described below.

  1. The file should start with a comment containing the translation authors (separated by commas, for example: Authors: Chris Wick, John Kyle), "last updated" date (in format: mmm dd, yyyy, for example: Last updated: Jan 01, 2017) and a description.

    * @preserve
    * Authors: Chris Wick, John Kyle
    * Last updated: Nov 15, 2017
    * Description: Definition file for Spanish - Venezuela language-country.
  2. After that, you'll need to import the dictionary keys to be used in the translation.

    import * as C from '../constants';
  3. The language dictionary object should contain a languageCode key (in format: two lowercase letters, hyphen, two uppercase letters, for example: languageCode: 'es-PY') which will determine the language code to be used in the language property in the Handsontable settings and dictionaries keys with their corresponding translations.

    const dictionary = {
      languageCode: 'es-VE',
      [C.CONTEXTMENU_ITEMS_ROW_ABOVE]: 'Insertar fila arriba',
  4. Lastly, place a default export of the created dictionary.

    export default dictionary;
  5. A simple, sample language dictionary can look like the snippet below. The /languages and /dist/languages folders will be generated by the build process. Files from those localizations can be included as shown in this section. After loading them, you will be able to use the language. You can do it by changing the language setting of Handsontable to es-VE.

    * @preserve
    * Authors: Chris Wick, John Kyle
    * Last updated: Nov 15, 2017
    * Description: Definition file for Spanish - Venezuela language-country.
    import * as C from '../constants';
    const dictionary = {
      languageCode: 'es-VE',
      [C.CONTEXTMENU_ITEMS_ROW_ABOVE]: 'Insertar fila arriba',
    export default dictionary;
  6. Import already created file inside the src/i18n/languages/index.js file and export it like it's shown in the snippet below (keys in a alphabetical order).

     import deCH from './de-CH';
     import deDE from './de-DE';
     import enUS from './en-US';
    +import esVE from './es-VE';
     import plPL from './pl-PL';
     export {
    +  esVE,
  7. Voilà! You've created a language which can be used just by you or shared with others. We wait for at least 5 positive feedback from users to accept a created pull request.

Local language

You can register a language dictionary which is not a part of the Handsontable package. To do so, use the static Handsontable.languages.registerLanguageDictionary method and the static constant Handsontable.languages.dictionaryKeys which are described briefly in the next section.

const C = Handsontable.languages.dictionaryKeys;

  languageCode: 'morse',
  // Your translation in the Morse code
  [C.FILTERS_BUTTONS_OK]: '--- -•-'

Using custom keys in the translation

You can register a language dictionary containing custom keys. These entries can be used like any other keys, so you're not limited to using our pre-defined constants (the ones that are present within src/i18n/constants.js file and may be accessed by Handsontable.languages.dictionaryKeys alias).

const enUSDictionary = Handsontable.languages.getLanguageDictionary('en-US');

enUSDictionary.customKey = 'Hello world';

Handsontable.languages.registerLanguageDictionary(enUSDictionary); // re-registration
Handsontable.languages.getTranslatedPhrase('en-US', 'customKey'); // 'Hello world'

Static Handsontable methods and properties

Handsontable has a few static methods and properties connected with languages. They are stored in the languages key of the global Handsontable variable. All of them are described below.

Handsontable.languages.getLanguageDictionary(languageCode: String)

Get language dictionary for specific language code.

Returns: Object


Get the registered language dictionaries.

Returns: Array

Handsontable.languages.getTranslatedPhrase(languageCode: String, dictionaryKey: String, extraArguments: Mixed)

Get the phrase for specified dictionary key.

Returns: Object

Handsontable.languages.registerLanguageDictionary(languageCodeOrDictionary: Mixed, dictionary: Object)

Register a language dictionary for a specific language code. After that, it will be possible to use it.

Returns: Object


Dictionary constants.

Contains: Object

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