Javascript Template Engine
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README.md
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README.md

Patroon - a Javascript Template Engine

Patroon is a template engine written in Javascript in about 100 lines of code. It takes existing DOM nodes annotated with class names and expand a data object according to simple rules. Additionally you may use traditional string interpolation inside attribute values and text nodes.

The Data

Comments in this blog are stored as a list of JSON objects, I wrote about it here. So think about a data object like this:

var data = { 
  comment: [{
    time: "2008-09-07 12:28:33", 
    name: "David Beckham",
    website: "beckham.com",
    text: "I watched the euro finals on tv..." 
  }, { 
    time: "2008-09-07 14:28:33", 
    name: "Tuncay",
    website: "",
    text: "Me too"
  }]
};

The Template

This data will be expanded with help of following template:

    <div class="comments">  
      <div id="comments-template">
        <div class="comment">
          <div class="top">
            {website.length > 0 ? linkTo(name, website) : name} said
            <a title="{time}"></a>:
          </div>
          <div class="text">
            {text}
          </div>
        </div>   
      </div>
    </div>

Usage

The javascript to actually execute this template looks like this:

// The comments template will be removed from the DOM!
var template = new Template('comments-template');

// Expand the template into the comments section
$('.comments').expand(template, data);

If you don't want to use jQuery, please look at the end of this article.

Output

The given example renders following output:

    <div class="comments">  
      <div id="comments-template">
        <div class="comment">
          <div class="top">
            <a href="http://backham.com">David Beckham</a> said
            <a title="2008-09-07 12:28:33">2 hours ago</a>
          </div>
          <div class="text">
            I watched the euro finals on tv...
          </div>
        </div>   
        <div class="comment">
          <div class="top">
            Tuncay said
            <a title="2008-09-07 14:28:33">1 minute ago</a>
          </div>
          <div class="text">
            Me too
          </div>
        </div>   
      </div>
    </div>

Basic Rules

There are 3 basic rules regarding the evaluation:

  • Each found class name of a node will be looked up in the current data object. If found, the node will be processed in the new scope. Example: the class name comment instructs to lookup the name comment in the data object, which contains the comment array.

  • Arrays repeat the current node and process its elements recursively.

  • Code will be evaluated for text surrounded with braces (works also for attributes). The evaluation takes place in the scope of the current data object, which is in the example a comment object. So the snippet <a title="{time}"> will lookup the time in the comment object and insert into the title attribute.

Helper

Code snippets inside the template will be executed within the scope of a Helper object. If you want to extend it, just add your functions to Template.Helper. At the moment it defines only one function:

Template.Helper = {
 
    linkTo: function(text, url) {
        if (url.indexOf('http://') == -1 && url[0] != '/' && url[0] != '#') {
            url = 'http://' + url;
        }
        return '<a href="' + url +'">' + text + '</a>';
    }
 
};

Download

Download the script at my github repository.

Without jQuery

Without jQuery template expansion is a bit verbose:

// The comments template will be removed from the DOM!
var template = new Template('comments-template');

// template will result in a new DOM node
var result = template.expand(data);

// insert the resulting node into the comments container
var container = document.getElementsByClassName('comments')[0];
container.appendChild(result);