Provoke 404 for inexistent language version

Most of our customers have their websites organized in multiple country sites with multiple languages. If we say we have one site which should be available in German and English, then each page should be translated in both languages. In fact, there are always pages/items which are not available in both languages, or are not yet translated for some reasons. What if the user requests an item in German which is only available English? Exactly, the user should see a 404 (page not found) error message. But this is not the way Sitecore deals with this. The Sitecore ItemResolver only looks for items, and in fact, the requested item is found in the database.

So to fulfill this requirement, we need to add some custom code. First of all we need a helper to check if an item has an existing version in the current language. This is very easy, done with this extension method on the Item class:

public static bool HasLanguageVersion(this Item item)
    if (item == null) return false;

    var itemInLanguage = ItemManager.GetItem(item.ID, Sitecore.Context.Language, Sitecore.Data.Version.Latest, item.Database);
    return itemInLanguage.Versions.GetVersions().Length > 0;

Directly after the Sitecore item resolving, we have to inject a custom pipeline processor, which additionally checks for an existing language version:

public class LanguageContextResolver : HttpRequestProcessor
    public override void Process(HttpRequestArgs args)
        if (Sitecore.Context.Item == null || Sitecore.Context.Database == null)

        if (!Sitecore.Context.Item.HasLanguageVersion())
            Sitecore.Context.Item = null;

The only thing we do is setting the Sitecore.Context.Item to null. This way we tell Sitecore that no item was found in the database and therefor, the page not found error message will be displayed. As I said before, this processor has to be enabled directly after the ItemResolver from Sitecore. This can be done with a custom config file within the App_Config/Include folder of your website folder:

<configuration xmlns:patch="">

        <processor patch:after="processor[@type='Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest.ItemResolver, Sitecore.Kernel']"
                   type="Website.Pipelines.LanguageContextResolver, Website" />


This is all the magic. If you don’t want to use the default error page from Sitecore, you could use the Sitecore Error Manager, found in the Marketplace. With this module, you can show a custom content item as your 404 page.

Kevin Brechbühl

Senior Developer & Architect | C# & ASP.NET | Sitecore Technology MVP

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