Maksim Ivanov
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How To Localize React Application Using `react-intl`

February 28, 2019

In this tutorial we’ll localize React application from start to finish using react-intl made by Yahoo.

We’ll use create-react-app to generate a new application and then we’ll go through the whole set of steps needed to localize it using react-intl.

In this tutorial I assume that you have modern node version installed.

1. Create New Application

First let’s generate our boilerplate, run create-react-app:

npx create-react-app react-intl-example

I’m using npx here, but you can just run create-react-app if you have it installed globally.

2. Install react-intl

After create-react-app finishes installation - cd to your app folder and install react-intl.

cd react-intl-example
yarn add react-intl

3. Wrap App Into IntlProvider

Go to index.js, import IntlProvider from react-intl, and wrap <App/> element.

import React from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";
import "./index.css";
import App from "./App";
import * as serviceWorker from "./serviceWorker";
import { IntlProvider } from "react-intl";

    <App />


4. Wrap Texts Into FormatMessage Components

Open App.js, import FormattedMessage and wrap each text into FormattedMessage component. You need to provide id and defaultMessage for each element:

import React, { Component } from "react";
import { FormattedMessage} from 'react-intl'
import logo from "./logo.svg";
import "./App.css";

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <div className="App">
        <header className="App-header">
          <img src={logo} className="App-logo" alt="logo" />
              defaultMessage="Edit {code} and save to reload."
                  code: <code>src/App.js</code>
            rel="noopener noreferrer"
            <FormattedMessage id="app.learn" defaultMessage="Learn React" />

export default App;

Note that we used values field to pass the named placeholder code, that contained some markup (the <code> tags).

5. Extract Messages

Sometimes this step is performed manually, just by adding id’s and with text values to the translation files.

It can, and I think it should, be automated. We’ll use react-intl-cra. It is a package that is pre-configured to work with create-react-app generated applications. Install this script:

yarn add react-intl-cra

Add it to scripts section in package.json:

"extract:messages": "react-intl-cra 'src/**/*.{js,jsx}' -o 'src/i18n/messages/messages.json'",

Run the script:

yarn extract:messages

It will generate a new file src/i18n/messages/messages.json. This file will contain all the found texts from your source code.

6. Generate The Locales

Now we’ll need another package react-intl-translations-manager to generate the locale files from the messages file.

Install the package:

yarn add react-intl-translations-manager

This package only has programmatic interface so you’ll need to create the script file. Create translationRunner.js file with the following contents:

// translationRunner.js
const manageTranslations = require('react-intl-translations-manager').default;

  messagesDirectory: 'src/i18n/messages/',
  translationsDirectory: 'src/i18n/locales/',
  languages: ['en','sv', 'es'] // any language you need

And add the command to run this script to your package.json:

  "scripts": {
    "manage:translations": "node ./translationRunner.js"

Run the script:

yarn manage:translations

It will generate locales ready to be used in the src/translations/locales folder.

7. Translate The Locales

Now you can translate your locales manually, or use one of the translation services to do that. Here are a few examples of Translation Management Systems:

You have to upload your translations there, translate the messages and then download translated locales.

8. Load Translation Through Intl Provider

Create index.js in src/translations/locales and export all the translations from it:

import en from "./en.json";
import es from "./es.json";
import sv from "./sv.json";

export default { en, es, sv }

Add locale data to react-intl:

import React from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";
import "./index.css";
import App from "./App";
import * as serviceWorker from "./serviceWorker";
import { IntlProvider, addLocaleData} from "react-intl";
import esLocaleData from "react-intl/locale-data/es";
import svLocaleData from "react-intl/locale-data/sv";
import translations from './i18n/locales'


const locale ="?locale=","") || "en"
const messages = translations[locale];

  <IntlProvider locale={locale} messages={messages}>
    <App />


9. Run Your Application

Now you can run your app, try adding different locale codes to your url.

Here is the code for the app in this tutorial.

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