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Switching from other Template Engines

If you have used a different template engine in the past and want to swtich to Jinja2 here is a small guide that shows the basic syntatic and semantic changes between some common, similar text template engines for Python.


Jinja2 is mostly compatible with Jinja1 in terms of API usage and template syntax. The differences between Jinja1 and 2 are explained in the following list.


Jinja2 uses a different loader API. Because the internal representation of templates changed there is no longer support for external caching systems such as memcached. The memory consumed by templates is comparable with regular Python modules now and external caching doesn't give any advantage. If you have used a custom loader in the past have a look at the new :ref:`loader API <loaders>`.
Loading templates from strings
In the past it was possible to generate templates from a string with the default environment configuration by using jinja.from_string. Jinja2 provides a :class:`Template` class that can be used to do the same, but with optional additional configuration.
Automatic unicode conversion
Jinja1 performed automatic conversion of bytestrings in a given encoding into unicode objects. This conversion is no longer implemented as it was inconsistent as most libraries are using the regular Python ASCII bytestring to Unicode conversion. An application powered by Jinja2 has to use unicode internally everywhere or make sure that Jinja2 only gets unicode strings passed.
Jinja1 used custom translators for internationalization. i18n is now available as Jinja2 extension and uses a simpler, more gettext friendly interface and has support for babel. For more details see :ref:`i18n-extension`.
Internal methods
Jinja1 exposed a few internal methods on the environment object such as call_function, get_attribute and others. While they were marked as being an internal method it was possible to override them. Jinja2 doesn't have equivalent methods.
Jinja1 was running sandbox mode by default. Few applications actually used that feature so it became optional in Jinja2. For more details about the sandboxed execution see :class:`SandboxedEnvironment`.
Jinja1 had a stacked context as storage for variables passed to the environment. In Jinja2 a similar object exists but it doesn't allow modifications nor is it a singleton. As inheritance is dynamic now multiple context objects may exist during template evaluation.
Filters and Tests
Filters and tests are regular functions now. It's no longer necessary and allowed to use factory functions.


Jinja2 has mostly the same syntax as Jinja1. What's different is that macros require parentheses around the argument list now.

Additionally Jinja2 allows dynamic inheritance now and dynamic includes. The old helper function rendertemplate is gone now, include can be used instead. Includes no longer import macros and variable assignments, for that the new import tag is used. This concept is explained in the :ref:`import` documentation.

Another small change happened in the for-tag. The special loop variable doesn't have a parent attribute, instead you have to alias the loop yourself. See :ref:`accessing-the-parent-loop` for more details.


If you have previously worked with Django templates, you should find Jinja2 very familiar. In fact, most of the syntax elements look and work the same.

However, Jinja2 provides some more syntax elements covered in the documentation and some work a bit different.

This section covers the template changes. As the API is fundamentally different we won't cover it here.

Method Calls

In Django method calls work implicitly. With Jinja2 you have to specify that you want to call an object. Thus this Django code:

{% for page in user.get_created_pages %}
{% endfor %}

will look like this in Jinja:

{% for page in user.get_created_pages() %}
{% endfor %}

This allows you to pass variables to the function which is also used for macros which is not possible in Django.


In Django you can use the following constructs to check for equality:

{% ifequal foo "bar" %}
{% else %}
{% endifequal %}

In Jinja2 you can use the normal if statement in combination with operators:

{% if foo == 'bar' %}
{% else %}
{% endif %}

You can also have multiple elif branches in your template:

{% if something %}
{% elif otherthing %}
{% elif foothing %}
{% else %}
{% endif %}

Filter Arguments

Jinja2 provides more than one argument for filters. Also the syntax for argument passing is different. A template that looks like this in Django:

{{ items|join:", " }}

looks like this in Jinja2:

{{ items|join(', ') }}

In fact it's a bit more verbose but it allows different types of arguments - including variables - and more than one of them.


In addition to filters there also are tests you can perform using the is operator. Here are some examples:

{% if user.user_id is odd %}
    {{ user.username|e }} is odd
{% else %}
    hmm. {{ user.username|e }} looks pretty normal
{% endif %}


For loops work very similar to Django, the only incompatibility is that in Jinja2 the special variable for the loop context is called loop and not forloop like in Django.


The {% cycle %} tag does not exist in Jinja because of it's implicit nature. However you can achieve mostly the same by using the cycle method on a loop object.

The following Django template:

{% for user in users %}
    <li class="{% cycle 'odd' 'even' %}">{{ user }}</li>
{% endfor %}

Would look like this in Jinja:

{% for user in users %}
    <li class="{{ loop.cycle('odd', 'even') }}">{{ user }}</li>
{% endfor %}

There is no equivalent of {% cycle ... as variable %}.


If you have used Mako so far and want to switch to Jinja2 you can configure Jinja2 to look more like Mako:

env = Environment('<%', '%>', '${', '}', '%')

Once the environment is configure like that Jinja2 should be able to interpret a small subset of Mako templates. Jinja2 does not support embedded Python code so you would have to move that out of the template. The syntax for defs (in Jinja2 defs are called macros) and template inheritance is different too. The following Mako template:

<%inherit file="layout.html" />
<%def name="title()">Page Title</%def>
% for item in list:
% endfor

Looks like this in Jinja2 with the above configuration:

<% extends "layout.html" %>
<% block title %>Page Title<% endblock %>
<% block body %>
% for item in list:
% endfor
<% endblock %>
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