Yury Dymov edited this page Jan 23, 2017 · 27 revisions

Welcome to React Intl's Wiki! This is the place to find React Intl's docs for v2 (v1 docs are here). This wiki is open; if you see a typo or bad link, just fix it. Also, feel free to contribute to the docs to make them better.

Getting Started

Intro Guides

Internationalizing web apps is an involved and complex task. If you're new to i18n in JavaScript, it's recommended that you start by reading the following guides:

I18n in JavaScript

React Intl uses and builds on the Internationalization API built-in to JavaScript.

These APIs are in all modern browsers (http://caniuse.com/#search=Intl) and Node.js since 0.12.

For older browsers and Node you might need to polyfill the Intl APIs. The Runtime Environments guide provides an overview of doing this, and here's some specific info:

  • For older browsers we recommend using the intl package on npm. Which can be used via unpkg or polyfill.io.

  • By default Node only ships with basic English locale data. You can however build a Node binary with all locale data. We recommend doing this if you control the container your Node app runs in, otherwise you'll want to polyfill Intl in Node.

  • When polyfilling Intl in a browser, you'll want to dynamically load the locale data for the current user's locale. The Intl polyfill contains this data as separate .js files from the core implementation. In Node, the polyfill loads all locale data into memory by default.

The react-intl Package

The react-intl npm package distributes the following modules (links from unpkg):

  • CommonJS: unbundled dependencies, "main" in package.json, warnings in dev.
  • ES6: unbundled dependencies, "jsnext:main" in package.json, warnings in dev.
  • UMD dev: bundled dependencies (except react), browser or Node, warnings.
  • UMD prod: minified, bundled dependencies (except react), browser or Node, no warnings.
  • UMD Locale Data: grouped by language, browser or Node, index.js contains all locales.

Note: React Intl's locale data is in a directory at the package's root. This allows the locale data to be import-ed or require-d relative to the package. For example:

import englishLocaleData from 'react-intl/locale-data/en';

Module Bundlers

We've made React Intl work well with module bundlers like: Browserify, Webpack, or Rollup which can be used to bundle React Intl for the browser:

  • The "browser" field in package.json is specified so that only basic English locale data is included when bundling. This way when using the "main" module in Node all locale data is loaded, but ignored when bundled for the browser.

  • An ES6 version of React Intl is provided as "jsnext:main" in package.json and can be used with Rollup.

  • Development-time warnings are wrapped with process.env.NODE_ENV !== 'production', this allows you to specify NODE_ENV when bundling and minifying to have these code blocks removed.

The React Intl Module

Whether you use the ES6, CommonJS, or UMD version of React Intl, they all provide the same named exports:

Note: When using the UMD version of React Intl without a module system, it will expect react to exist on the global variable: React, and put the above named exports on the global variable: ReactIntl.

Loading Locale Data

React Intl relies on locale data to support its plural and relative-time formatting features. This locale data is split out from the main library because it's 39KB gz, and instead grouped per language; e.g., en.js, fr.js, zh.js, etc.

If you are targeting browsers or Node versions which don't have the Intl APIs built-in, you'll need to polyfill the runtime using the Intl.js polyfill (See above for details.) This polyfill also has its locale data seperated into files that are organized by locale tag; e.g., en-US.js, fr.js, zh-Hant-TW.js, etc.

Because of these difference in how the locale data is organized, you'll need to put extra attention on the locale data files available for the Intl.js polyfill and React Intl when loading locale data dynamically.

Locale Data in Node.js

When using React Intl in Node.js (same for the Intl.js polyfill), all locale data will be loaded into memory. This makes it easier to write a universal/isomorphic React app with React Intl since you won't have to worry about dynamically loading locale data on the server.

Note: As mentioned above, when using Browserify/Webpack/Rollup to bundle React Intl for the browser, only basic English locale data will be included.

Locale Data in Browsers

When using React Intl in browsers, it will only contain locale data for basic English by default. This means you'll need to either bundle locale data with your app code, or dynamically load a locale data UMD module based on the current user's locale.

React Intl provides an addLocaleData API which can be passed the contents of a locale data module and will register it in its locale data registry.

If your app only supports a few languages, we recommend bundling React Intl's locale data for those languages with your app code as this approach is simpler. Here's an example of an app that supports English, French, and Spanish:

// app.js
import {addLocaleData} from 'react-intl';
import en from 'react-intl/locale-data/en';
import fr from 'react-intl/locale-data/fr';
import es from 'react-intl/locale-data/es';

addLocaleData([...en, ...fr, ...es]);
// ...

If your app supports many locales, you can also dynamically load the locale data needed for the current user's language. This would involve outputting a different HTML document per users which includes a <script> to the correct locale data file. When loading a locale data file in a runtime without a module system, it will be added to a global variable: ReactIntlLocaleData. Here's an example of loading React Intl and locale data for a French user:

<!-- Load React and ReactDOM if they're not already on the page. -->
<script src="https://unpkg.com/react@latest/dist/react.min.js"></script>
<script src="https://unpkg.com/react-dom@latest/dist/react-dom.min.js"></script>

<!-- Load ReactIntl and its locale data for French. -->
<script src="https://unpkg.com/react-intl@latest/dist/react-intl.min.js"></script>
<script src="https://unpkg.com/react-intl@latest/locale-data/fr.js"></script>

Note: Since ReactIntl and ReactIntlLocaleData are separate global variables they are decoupled and this means you could set the async attribute on the <script src=""> scripts.

Creating an I18n Context

Now with React Intl and its locale data loaded an i18n context can be created for your React app.

React Intl uses the provider pattern to scope an i18n context to a tree of components. This allows configuration like the current locale and set of translated strings/messages to be proved at the root of a component tree and made available to the <Formatted*> components. This is the same concept as what Flux frameworks like Redux use to provide access to a store within a component tree.

All apps using React Intl must use the <IntlProvider> component.

The most common usage is to wrap your root React component with <IntlProvider> and configure it with the user's current locale and the corresponding translated strings/messages:


See: The <IntlProvider> docs for more details.

Formatting Data

React Intl has two ways to format data, through React components and its API. The components provide an idiomatic-React way of integrating internationalization into a React app, and the <Formatted*> components have benefits over always using the imperative API directly. The API should be used when your React component needs to format data to a string value where a React element is not suitable; e.g., a title or aria attribute, or for side-effect in componentDidMount.

React Intl's imperative API is accessed via injectIntl, a High-Order Component (HOC) factory. It will wrap the passed-in React component with another React component which provides the imperative formatting API into the wrapped component via its props. (This is similar to the connect-to-stores pattern found in many Flux implementations.)

Here's an example using <IntlProvider>, <Formatted*> components, and the imperative API to setup an i18n context and format data:

import React, {PropTypes} from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import {
} from 'react-intl';

const PostDate = injectIntl(({date, intl}) => (
    <span title={intl.formatDate(date)}>
        <FormattedRelative value={date}/>

const App = ({post}) => (
        <p><PostDate date={post.date}/></p>

    <IntlProvider locale={navigator.language}>
                title: 'Hello, World!',
                date: new Date(1459913574887),
                body: 'Amazing content.',

Assuming navigator.language is "en-us":

    <h1>Hello, World!</h1>
    <p><span title="4/5/2016">yesterday</span></p>
        Amazing content.

See: The API docs and Component docs for more details.

Core Concepts

TODO: Add details for each of these:

  • Locale data
  • Formatters (Date, Number, Message, Relative)
  • Provider and Injector
  • API and Components
  • Message Descriptor
  • Message Syntax
  • Defining default messages for extraction
  • Custom, named formats

Example Apps

There are several runnable example apps in this Git repo. These are a great way to see React Intl's core concepts in action in simplified applications.

API Reference

There are a few API layers that React Intl provides and is built on. When using React Intl you'll interacting with Intl built-ins, React Intl's API, and its React components: