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In our Magento 2.2.9 shop when updating a products url_key it has been transliterated automatically to remove spaces, umlauts, etc.. We now updated to 2.3.3 and this behavior stopped working.

I checked with vanilla 2.2.9 and 2.3.3 instances and when updating a url_key for a product it is not transliterated. So it seems this has never been a feature of Magento but we do not recall implementing such a feature.

I do know Magento transliterates the url_key when generating it based on the product name but has it ever been (or is) a feature of Magento that the url_key is always transliterated e.g. when updating or saving it manually?

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Until Magento versions 2.2.9 and 2.3.3 Magento did always transliterate the url keys of products, whenever the event catalog_product_save_before was called. The responsible code can be found here (observer) and here (here the transliteration is called).

In this commit it has been changed and it only transliterates the url key if it's not null. If you save a product with a url key, e.g. when you want to update it, it will not be transliterated.

In my opinion this is a bug so I opened an issue on github.

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