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A Scala implementation of Handlebars, an extension to and superset of the Mustache templating language.

This project began as an attempt to learn Scala and to experiment with Scala's Parser Combinators in an attempt to get handlebars.js templates working in Scala.

Given a template:

val template = """
  <p>Hello, my name is {{name}}. I am from {{hometown}}. I have {{kids.length}} kids:</p>
    {{#kids}}<li>{{name}} is {{age}}</li>{{/kids}}

And an arbitrary Scala object:

object Guy {
  val name = "Alan"
  val hometown = "Somewhere, TX"
  val kids = Seq(Map(
    "name" -> "Jimmy",
    "age -> "12"
  ), Map(
    "name" -> "Sally",
    "age" -> "4"

Pass those into Handlebars like so:

scala> val t = Handlebars(template)
t: com.gilt.handlebars.Handlebars = com.gilt.handlebars.Handlebars@496d864e

scala> t(Guy)
res0: String =
      <p>Hello, my name is Alan. I am from Somewhere, TX. I have 2 kids:</p>
        <li>Jimmy is 12</li><li>Sally is 4</li>

Handlebars.scala will work just fine for Mustache templates, but includes features such as Paths and Helpers.

The example above demonstrates the apply method of a Handlebars instance, which should be familiar to Scala-fans. apply takes an optional second argument: a Map of helper functions. The signature for apply looks like this:

def apply[T](context: T, helpers: Map[String,Helper[T]] = Map.empty[String,Helper[T]])

Handlebars.Helper[T] translates to: (Seq[Any], HandlebarsVisitor[T], Option[T]) => Any

Helper functions generally look like this:

"name" -> ((context, options, parent) => something)

where context is the list of arguments sent to the helper and parent is the surrounding context of the block. The main method of options you should concern yourself with is fn, which acts similar to Handlebars.js in that it will pass the given object into the block for evaluation. Here's an example of my go-to head helper:

"head" -> ((context, option, parent) => context.head match {
  case list:Seq[_] => list.head
  case _ => context.head


Two things to note when using Handlebars.scala:

There is no else. Handlebars.js handles if/else type statements, but because of the nature of else, I did not include it here. I could not figure out a slick way to include it and stick to the functional style that Scala developers go gaga over. My Scala skills are not yet to the level where I can understand a clear path forward.

Implicit conversions will not work in a template. Because Handlebars.scala makes heavy use of reflection. Bummer, I know. This leads me too...

Handlebars.scala makes heavy use of reflection. This means that there could be unexpected behavior. Method overloading will behave in bizarre ways. There is likely a performance penalty. I'm not sophisticated enough in the arts of the JVM to know the implications of this.


Special thanks to the fine folks working on Scalate whose Mustache parser was my primary source of inspiration. Tom Dale and Yehuda Katz who inceptioned the idea of writing a Handlebars implementation for the JVM. The UI team at Gilt who insisted on using Handlebars and not Mustache for client-side templating. And finally, the denizens of the Scala 2.9.1 chat room at Gilt for answering my questions with enthusiastic aplomb.


The project uses sbt. Assuming you have sbt you can clone the repo, and run:

sbt test

Build Status


A Scala implementation of the Handlebars templating language (a superset of Mustache).



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