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Last update: January 23, 2020
Source code in Git: ASP.NET Localization Example

Localization of a MVC WebApplication and an Api

See also: Globalization and localization in ASP.NET Core

The example is based on an ASP.NET Core 3 WebApplication (MVC) project.

Create a resource library project

I like to put my resources in a separate resource library project to be able to use them in multiple projects. I use a netstandard project type. This way, the resources can also be used in Xamarin, Wpf and maybe in the future Blazor projects.

  1. Select the solution in Visual Studio, right click and choose Add > New Project…
  2. Choose the Class Library (.NET Standard) template and choose Next.
  3. Enter your project name, e.g. Example.ResourceLibrary and choose Create.
  4. You can set the TargetFramework of the project to netstandard2.1.
  5. Remove Class1.cs.
  6. Create a Resources folder (not required, you can also put your resources in the root).
  7. I use only one set of shared resources, but if you like you can also add view and controller resources as described in Resource file naming.
  8. Add resource files for the languages you support like SharedResource.en.resx and Right-click on the Resources folder, choose Add > New item… and select the Resources File template.
  9. In the project root add an empty marker class SharedResource like this:
     namespace Example.ResourceLibrary
         /// <summary>
         /// REMARK: Class cannot be static, because it is used as a marker class to load the resources in a IStringLocalizer
         /// </summary>
         public class SharedResource
  10. Add your translated texts in the resource files (e.g. Name=Welcome, Value=Welkom in nl-NL).
  11. Add a reference to the Example.ResourceLibrary in your Web and/or Api projects.

Startup.cs configuration in your Web and/or Api projects

using System.Globalization;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Localization;
using Example.ResourceLibrary;

Add in ConfigureServices():

// REMARK: You can leave out the options if you put the resources in the root instead of the Resources folder.
services.AddLocalization(options => options.ResourcesPath = "Resources");

// This line is only needed to be able to lookup your localization options in a controller, view or service:

// Change existing line (SKIP THIS in Api project):
services.AddControllersWithViews() // or AddControllers(), AddMvc(), etc.
    // Add this line if you want to use your shared resources in the data annotations:
    .AddDataAnnotationsLocalization(options => { options.DataAnnotationLocalizerProvider = (type, factory) => factory.Create(typeof(SharedResource)); })
    // Add this line to be able to use the IHtmlLocalizer in your views:

Add in Configure() Before app.UseRouting (or UseMvc):

// Or if you like this better:

Add a private static method CreateRequestLocalizationOptions:

private static RequestLocalizationOptions CreateRequestLocalizationOptions()
    var supportedLanguages = new[] { new CultureInfo("nl-NL"), new CultureInfo("en") };
    var supportedFormattingCultures = new[] { new CultureInfo("nl-NL"), new CultureInfo("en-US") };
    var result = new RequestLocalizationOptions
        DefaultRequestCulture = new RequestCulture("nl-NL", "nl-NL"),
        SupportedCultures = supportedFormattingCultures,
        SupportedUICultures = supportedLanguages

    // Now if your default browser language is English, your WebApplication will startup in English,
    // even though you set the DefaultRequestCulture to Dutch (Netherlands).
    // In most situations this is correct, but if you DO want to start in the language specified in DefaultRequestCulture
    // you can add these lines:
    var acceptLanguageProvider = result.RequestCultureProviders.FirstOrDefault(p => p is AcceptLanguageHeaderRequestCultureProvider);
    if (acceptLanguageProvider != null)

    return result;

Use dependency injection to get the resource values in your view, controller or service

In the HomeController:

using Microsoft.Extensions.Localization;
using Example.ResourceLibrary;
public HomeController(IStringLocalizer<SharedResource> localizer)

Or in Index.cshtml:

@using Example.ResourceLibrary
@using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Mvc.Localization
@inject IHtmlLocalizer<SharedResource> SharedLocalizer
<h1 class="display-4">SharedLocalizer[Welcome]</h1>

Let the user change the language

In the Views/Shared folder of the WebApplication add a partial view _SelectLanguagePartial.cshtml:

@using Example.ResourceLibrary
@using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Builder
@using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Localization
@using Microsoft.Extensions.Localization
@inject RequestLocalizationOptions RequestLocalizationOptions
@inject IStringLocalizer<SharedResource> SharedLocalizer

    var uiCulture = Context.Features.Get<IRequestCultureFeature>().RequestCulture.UICulture;
    var language = uiCulture.Name;
    var languageNativeName = uiCulture.NativeName;
    var cultureItems = RequestLocalizationOptions.SupportedUICultures
        .Select(c => new SelectListItem { Value = c.Name, Text = c.NativeName })

    // TODO: Add Context.Request.QueryString if necessary
    var returnUrl = string.IsNullOrEmpty(Context.Request.Path) ? "~/" : $"~{Context.Request.Path.Value}";

<div title="@SharedLocalizer["Select Language"] (@languageNativeName)">
    <form asp-controller="Home" asp-action="SetLanguage" asp-route-returnUrl="@returnUrl" method="post" role="form">
        <select class="form-control" name="language" onchange="this.form.submit();" asp-for="@language" asp-items="cultureItems">

In Views/Shared/_Layout.cshtml add this code:

<!-- Existing code: -->
<div class="navbar-collapse collapse d-sm-inline-flex flex-sm-row-reverse">
    <!-- Code to add: -->
    <ul class="navbar-nav">
        <li class="nav-item">
            <partial name="_SelectLanguagePartial" />

Now for Dutch the dropdown list shows Nederlands (Nederland). If you want it to show only Nederlands there are two possible solutions:

  1. Change the name of the resource file to and use new CultureInfo("nl") for the supported language.

  2. Or use a helper method like this:

    public static string GetNativeName(this CultureInfo cultureInfo)
     => cultureInfo.IsNeutralCulture ? cultureInfo.NativeName : cultureInfo.Parent.NativeName;

In the HomeController inject the RequestLocalizationOptions which you added as a singleton in Startup:

using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Builder;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Http;
using Microsoft.AspNetCore.Localization;

private readonly RequestLocalizationOptions _localizationOptions;
public HomeController(RequestLocalizationOptions localizationOptions)
    _localizationOptions = localizationOptions;

Add the SetLanguage action to which _SelectLanguagePartial posts. This will create a culture cookie which will store the selected language:

public IActionResult SetLanguage(string language, string returnUrl)
    var defaultFormattingCulture = _localizationOptions.DefaultRequestCulture.Culture.Name;
    var formattingCulture = defaultFormattingCulture;
    if (HttpContext.Request.Cookies.TryGetValue(CookieRequestCultureProvider.DefaultCookieName, out var value))
        formattingCulture = CookieRequestCultureProvider.ParseCookieValue(value).Cultures.FirstOrDefault().Value;
        if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(formattingCulture))
            formattingCulture = defaultFormattingCulture;

    value = CookieRequestCultureProvider.MakeCookieValue(new RequestCulture(formattingCulture, language));
    var expiration = new CookieOptions { Expires = DateTime.UtcNow.AddYears(4) };
    HttpContext.Response.Cookies.Append(CookieRequestCultureProvider.DefaultCookieName, value, expiration);
    return LocalRedirect(returnUrl);

Copyright © 2020 Marcel Wolterbeek, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Source code and documentation licensed by a MIT license.