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A HTML template language built over Mako for rapid development, and clearer code
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Updated readme to include projects built with nemo

Nemoc_ : A command-line rendering tool for Nemo templates
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Introducing Nemo

Clarity on the web

This is Nemo:

% ul
        Hello world!
        Hello Universe!

Looks like Haml, eh? But this is also Nemo:

            <li> Hello world! </li>
                    Hello Universe!

And here's what they BOTH produce:

<ul >
     <li> Hello world! </li>
    <li >
         Hello Universe!

Can Haml do that? Mixed content documents, and more rope than you know what to do with. That's Nemo.

A longer example, this is Nemo:

% fieldset .'upload'
    % legend | strong || Upload Files
    % div .'controls'
        % form #'upload form' action='#'
            % ul .'settings'
                                    Settings Here
            % ul
                % li | a .'start'  href="javascript:upload()" || Start Upload
                % li | a .'clear_queue' href="javascript:clear()" || Clear Queue
                % li #'uploadify' || You have a problem with your javascript
    % div .'queue_wrapper'
        % div .'uploadifyQueue' #'uploadifyQueue'

This is what it produces

<fieldset class="upload">
        <legend><strong>Upload Files</strong></legend>
        <div class="controls">
                <form id="upload_form" action="#">
                        <ul class="settings">
                                Settings Here

                                <li><a class='start' href="javascript:upload()">Start Upload</a></li>
                                <li><a class='clear_queue' href="javascript:clear()">Clear Queue</a></li>
                                <li id="uploadify">You have a problem with your javascript</li>

        <div class='queue_wrapper'>
                <div class='uploadifyQueue' id="uploadifyQueue"></div>


This project is inspired by PyHaml. I have looked at PyHaml before, and found that:
  • It is not pythonic in nature
  • It is overly restrictive
  • It is not as pretty as it could be
  • It was not invented here. =)

As such, I set out to create an alternative. Twelve frantic hours of coding later, I had something that may possibly be called alpha.

Nemo is intended as an aid, not a shortcut, nor a crutch, nor a way to avoid learning HTML. In order to write proper Nemo, you still have to know HTML and as such it will get out of your way if you just want to write HTML.

However, if you want to write it fast, write in Nemo and let it do the heavy lifting for you.


First, place this module somewhere in your python path. Pip/Easy_install will be supported later.

Nemo is built over Mako but has to be installed separately.

pip install mako

Django Integration

  • Add '' to your Django sites package. It will automatically use the following defaults:

    MAKO_TEMPLATE_DIRS=(os.path.join(settings.SITE_ROOT, 'templates'),)
                            module_directory=os.path.join(settings.SITE_ROOT, 'cache'),

    But you can override this in your Only the preprocessor is mandatory to use Nemo and it lives in Nemo.parser

  • Now in your views

    from nemo import render_to_response, render_to_string

    Then use those as replacements for the Django driven ones. Also, if you're used to using Mako, you can use these functions to render a single Mako def (like for an Ajax view)

    def my_view(request):
            return render_to_response('templates\list.Mako', def_name='item')
  • Notes

    As of version 0.4, Nemo includes a hook for the Mako cache system.

Other projects

from nemo.parser import nemo
from mako.template import Template
t = Template(filename=filename,
print t.render()


0.9.2 - Finally on PyPi!


If you've been following Nemo, version 1.0 will likely come with a few backwards incompatible changes. This is the preview. The intent is to allow Nemo to be cleanly used without Django. In the previous release, you could use Nemo, but you'd have to catch import errors. The changes are:

  • now contains all django related materials It exposes: render_to_response, render_to_string, loader (Djmako's loader), MakoExceptionWrapper (exceptions from Djmako that django can template), and defaults (configuration)
  • nemo.shortcuts has been moved into
  • loader, MakoExceptionWrapper, and conf are no longer exposed through the top-level module (nemo) However, render_to_response and render_to_string are still exposed if needed for now, but don't rely on this behavior. Start using to import them.

Right now, no code needs to be changed on your part, but to future-proof your design please use '' in your Django app settings, instead of 'nemo' as was previously required. Also, import render_to_* from or


  • Released January 6th, 2011


Nemo uses utf-8 internally by default, and expects you will at least use unicode as the input encoding for your templates.

Nemo Tags

Any line that starts with a % sign will be interpreted as a Nemo tag

Playing well with Mako

Nemo allows for all Mako code and control structures. However, Mako control structures have to follow the same indentation rules as Nemo code.


To output HTML, Nemo is written like this:

% <element type> <attributes 0 ... 1>

Where attributes are written as <name> = <value>

In the case of the attributes class and id, Nemo provides two short forms: - # denotes an id - . denotes a class

They are used without assignment markers. For example, the following two statements are equivilent

% div .'example' #'first'
% div class='example' id='first'
  • Nemo will not check for duplicated attributes.

  • You can only use Mako syntax within strings or HTML nodes. You can't use it to write your attribute names, like this:

    % li ${name}=${value}

    It will be converted to an empty node

    <li />

To compare, this limitation is present in Haml (afaik) as well.

Indentation Rules

All grouped control tags must have the same indentation. These are:
  • if / elif / else / endif
  • for / endfor
  • while / endwhile

The scope of a Nemo block is determined by indentation. Thus all of its contents, including bare HTML must be indented to the right of it. It doesn't matter precisely how much a bare HTML block is indented, and consistency is unimportant.

HTML Escaping

Nemo intends to make it easy for you to drop down to HTML at any point. In the general case, there is no explicit escaping and any line that doesn't start with % is treated as HTML.

The exception is Mako end-tags:
  • %>

These are treated as HTML and go unprocessed even though they begin with a % sign.

For example:
  • You can write this as a valid Nemo block:

    % ul
            <li ${get_my_attributes()} > Custom </li>
  • Or write inline javascript. Or write inline CSS.

  • Or drop in other code that will be processed later by another agent (e.g. Mako code).

One fun consequence is that multi-line blocks are allowed without any extra escaping.

Remember doing this in Haml?

  %hoo= h(                       |
        "I think this might get " +  |
        "pretty long so I should " + |
        "probably make it " +        |
        "multiline so it doesn't " + |
        "look awful.")               |
  %p This is short.

Well here's how you do it in Nemo:

  % hoo
                I think this might get
                pretty long so I should
                probably make it
                multiline so it doesn't
                look awful.
  % p This is short

Chaining Nemo Expressions

Nemo tags can be chained using '|' as a separator. To output HTML at the end, place either '||' before the HTML. Anything after those markers will be output on a line of its own, at the beginning of the line and subject to further processing by Mako.


%li .'toggle top'
        % a .'open' href='#' |> Login | Register
        % a .'close' href='#' style='display: none;' || Close Panel


<li class="toggle top">
        <a class="open" href="#">Log In | Register</a>
        <a class="close" href="#"  style="display: none;">Close Panel</a>

As a result, you can use Mako for expression substitution in the same line as Nemo tags. For example:

% span || 1 + 2 = ${1 + 2}

Will become:


Closing Tags

There are three ways a Nemo tag will be closed prematurely (e.g. before the end of parsing the document): automatic, implied, and explicit.


All tags without content are automatically closed.


% li


% <li />

Implied Closure

This is triggered by a HTML block or something that's treated as such (e.g. a Mako tag) appears at a lesser indentation.


% ul
        % li
                How deep can I go?
        Not that deep, sorry.
I fear for you both.


        <li> How deep can I go? </li>
        Not that deep sorry.
I fear for you both.

Explicit Closure

To explicitly close a tag, simply place an empty Nemo tag (%) on a subsequent line at the same indentation For example:

% li
        We are happy people!
        I'm outside, so... not so happy, here.


        We are happy people
        I'm outside so not so happy here.


  • A lot of work has been put into Nemo to make it fail fast upon ambiguity, and yet generate good error messages. Anyone who's used an OCaml parser can agree when I say this is fundamental to a good parser[#]
  • Errors are tracked back to the source line that caused them If possible, Nemo will also tell you what it expected at that point.

For more basic errors, you might see this an an exception traceback.

[8|Line: 6][        % endfor]
 ^           ^                       ^
 |           |                       |
 Depth       Line #          Source content

This kind of traceback is usually produced by ambiguous indentation.

Arguments against using Nemo & Responses

"I know HTML"
Great! Knowing HTML makes it easier to write Nemo templates. Nemo gets out of your way if you don't want to use it. So you don't have to convert the entirety of your document to Nemo.
"I hate indentation"

This would be a valid argument if Nemo was for Rubyists, or C-philes, or PHPers, or programmers versed in a lingua fraca that doesn't include significant white space.

However Nemo is for Pythonistas by a Pythonista. My editor already handles white-space---including smart indentation during pasting code. Doesn't yours?

"I don't like that Disney fish and/or I'm afraid that they'll sue you for using its name"

Haven't you heard of Captain Nemo, aka Prince Dakkar? Also, when I was searching for a name I thought that 'the Disney fish' Nemo was a type of Mako shark. Apparently Chum is the Mako shark in the movie.

However, rest assured. In a parallel universe, Nemo is the Mako shark and I can say that we are remembering our roots, keeping it real, and are still Jenny on the block, et cetera and so forth. =)

"I like Haml"
This is a can of worms I'll talk about later.
"I want Seasides' canvas"
Let's get a beer together.



Currently '||' is the only way to break out of a multi-line Nemo statement and get it to nest the subsequent HTML on the rest of the line. However, it is a common case to directly print template variables.

The '| >' terminator will indicate to Nemo that the rest characters should be treated as a python one-liner that returns a string.

Finally, this will be possible:

% div .'profile'
        % div .'left column'
                % div #'date'           |> print_date
                % div #'address'        |> current_user.address
        % div .'right column'
                % div #'email'          |>
                % div #'bio'            |>

Strict Mode and Permissive Mode

Right now Nemo is running in 'Mixed' mode, in that it will always try to make sense of your document. However if you start a nemo block, it'll expect all of the contents to follow Nemo rules. That means it may improperly nest things if you mix tabs & spaces.

I have something coded up called "strict mode", that essential forces everything to have proper indentation without any laxity.

Permissive mode on the other hand disables all checks and let's you live in the dangerous land of ambiguity. In Permissive mode, the only indentation rule followed is that contents must be to the right of their open scope. Nemo will no longer check to see if all the child nodes are properly indented.

The differences are best demonstrated with an example:

        % span
            Hello World!

    % div
        Under permissive rules I'm allowed.

        Under Mixed rules I'll parse until this point.
            Well I'm nested under the document root.

        Under strict rules I'll fail because that %span tag is above me.

    % ul
        % li
            % span
            % span
                Under permissive rules I'm allowed.
                Under mixed or strict rules I fail.
                    Because I'm enclosed by a Nemo node, the %ul.

Other Implementations?

Nemo can easily be extend to support other engines.
  • Django
  • Jinja
  • Cheetah
  • Spitfire
  • Genshi
  • etc.

Nemo is a preprocessor over Mako, and isn't tied too deeply into it (except for importing FastBufferReader from Mako).



Others? Contact me.

Projects Built with Nemo

Nemoc : A command-line rendering tool for Nemo templates


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