I'm working on a multilingual Sitecore site. We currently have everything set up in English (/en); but are adding other cultures and languages (en-CA, es-MX, fr-CA, etc.).

I've setup the languages to fallback to /en when an item or field doesn't have a version in the specified language. I've enabled both item and field language fallback.

The layout and presentation details are defined on the final layout of the /en version of the site. What I would like is if a version doesn't exist in the language; for the layout and presentation details to fallback to the /en site settings; and the components use the data source items which DO have versions translated in their language to be used.

We don't want this for all translations of the site of course, just want this to be default behavior when a new site is added.

I believe the way to do this would be to copy over the layout settings from /en to the shared layout so that layout is set up by default; and set the final layout details on each language version we want to deviate the layout/components for. Will that work, or do I have the wrong idea?

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You have the correct idea. You should use the shared layout as the basis, and deviate the final layout where needed for your particular language/version. If you do fallback to the /en site, it'll use the combined shared/final layout there of course, but the advantage to the shared layout is that when you make your first version of the next language, it'll start with that shared layout as a basis. There's a good answer for a PowerShell script to copy final layouts to shared here: Copy final layout to shared layout

One thing to keep in mind is if you add a rendering later to your shared layout, it'll appear in all languages automatically, until/unless you remove it specifically. This is important mostly if you use multiple versions and workflows...even if you're working on version 2 of your page, for example, adding the rendering to the shared layout will show up on version 1 as well, and if the page is published it'll pop up on version 1, perhaps before you're ready.

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