Oscar Franco

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How does react-i18next trans component work

April 2021

Recently I had to use the react-i18next trans component, here is the first line of the documentation:

While the Trans component gives you a lot of power by letting you interpolate or translate complex react elements - the truth is - in most cases you won’t need it.

And then it goes on and on about other minutia, but it never explains how it actually works and all the other info I could find is terrible. Nobody actually explains how it works.

The 30 second pitch

Here is a simple example (ignore the Trans tag for now), I basically have a small text, where I need to bold the email of the user.

<Trans i18nKey="webOnboarding.signInInstruction3" >
  Enter your email address <span className="font-bold">{{ email  }}</span> and password
</Trans>

So how does Trans work? it will start with an internal counter at 0. It will walk until it finds a sub-component (in our case the span tag), then increase the counter, when the span closes it will increase the counter again.

So basically the string passed to it, ends up something like this:

<0>Enter your email address </0><1>{{ email }}</1><2> and password</2>

My translated string looks like this:

"signInInstruction3": "Enter your email address <1>{{email}}</1> and password",

So it will do more or less the same algorithm as it did on the JSX code but you have given it a hand to see what needs to go in the 1 tag. Afterwards it can just replace the content and your translation is correctly inserted in your code.