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Smarty library for Lithium
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Smarty PHP plugin for Lithium PHP

Adds Smarty Templating Engine support to Lithium PHP Framework.


There are several ways to grab and use this project:

Clone directly

  1. Clone/Download the plugin into your app's libraries directory.

  2. This is great for development but will require you go to this directory and manually pull any future changes

Create a Submodule

In your app's libraries directory enter the following

git submodule add li3_smarty

You could add this in your app path as well, just make sure you tell it to place the submodule in libraries/li3_smarty rather than just li3_smarty.

This is a great way to manage several plugins. If you add all of your libraries this way then you can stay up to date with all of them by running this command from your libraries directory (or wherever you created the submodule):

git submodule update

This goes out and pulls all of the repos you have loaded into submodules. Handy!


This is new and Lithium doesn't yet have a packagist package (soon, hopefully)

That doesn't have to keep us from using it! It just means that we may have to take an extra step or two in order to get Composer running with Lithium. See this highly instructive article by @daschl and lets do our best to make Lithium as easy to use as possible!

Modify your projects composer.json file

    "repositories": {
        "protecinnovations": {
            "type": "package",
            "package": {
                "name": "li3_smarty",
                "version": "master",
                "source": {
                    "url": "git://",
                    "type": "git",
                    "reference": "master"
    "require": {
        "li3_smarty": "master"

Add it to Libraries

Tell your app to load the plugin by adding the following to your app's config/bootstrap/libraries.php:


This has similar benefits to submodules however with composer you don't need to know much about the plugin, just it's vendor name (joseym) and it's library name (li3_smarty) and what branch you want (master). Packagist handles the rest!


Everything should be preconfigured to just work. However: should you feel the need to add additional template paths, or dump your compiled templates elsewhere, you can! Just pass an array of options to your Libraries::add call:

        Libraries:add('li3_smarty', array(
            'compile_dir' => PATH_TO_COMPILE_DIRECTORY,
            'cache_dir' => PATH_TO_CACHE_DIRECTORY,
            'template_dir' => array(
            'plugin_dir' => array(

Note that the compile and cache directories need to be writable by your Apache (or whatever web server you use)


The plugin was written to mimic core Li3 variable assignment - therefore you can pass variables to your views like normal

Some Example code


    class PagesController extends \lithium\action\Controller {

        public function home(){
            $var = "test variable!";

Then in your view:


I want to display my {$var}

which will render "I want to display my test variable!"

You may have noticed that the view ended in .tpl, this is required for the plugin to parse the template as a smarty template.


Arguably one of the single most useful things smarty offers is its template inheritance.

This plugin treats views as layouts, so your view will need to extend the proper layout in order for it to render properly.

Think of this as $this->content() in reverse, you tell your view which layout to use rather than the layout where to include your view.


notice: layouts are also .tpl files

        {block name="content"}{/block}


{extends file="default.html.tpl"}
{block name="content"}
    <p>This is the view content that needs to be passed to <code>default.html.tpl</code></p>
    <p>Also ... I want to display my {$var}</p>

Now http://localhost/home would render as

        <p>This is the view content that needs to be passed to <code>default.html.tpl</code></p>
        <p>Also ... I want to display my `test variable!`</p>

Extending Smarty

If you want to add extraordinarily nifty functionality to smarty then you would do so by writing a smarty plugin.

If you choose to write some of these you can place them in one of the following locations and they will be automatically included for you and ready for use in your layouts/views:

  1. extensions/plugins - from within your lithium app
  2. li3_smarty/plugins - this is where I'm adding plugins I feel should be distributed with this lithium plugin.

I wont get into how or why you'd write these so check out the smarty plugin docs if you'd like to learn more about his feature (they're like helpers written for smarty).

Lithium Helpers

This ... was tricky.

Smarty disables your ability to use PHP in your views and no longer supports the "escape" block function that would allow you to add raw PHP. Therefore extra effort was required to expose Lithium PHP view functionality to smarty.

To lose lithium php helpers is the same as losing both feet and 4 fingers, including both thumbs ... I HAD to come up with a way to expose helpers to smarty templates.

I've written a smarty plugin, called helper which exposes all lithium helper methods to the smarty template.

Helper Usage

Lithium Link Helper

<?= $this->html->link('My Github', '', array('class' => 'external')); ?>

Smarty Link Helper

        {helper init="html:link" title="My Github" href="" options=['class' => 'external']}

Both of the above would return <a href="" class="external">My Github</a>

Helper Requirements

I'm going to break the smarty helper method down for you

  1. helper : required This calls the helper smarty plugin
  2. init : required This is the class:method you want to use; in my example I'm using the html class with the link helper - html:link
  3. title : optional This, and any other params are optional and depend on the lithium helper you're using
  4. href : optional same as title, it's optional for the smarty helper method but a requirement for the lithium html link helper.

Note: Helper params can be called anything, we could have just as easily called title and href name and url. The only key names that are required to be as show above are init and options

  1. options : optional An Associative array of optional parameters as used by lithium

If you are passing in an array of options the key must be called options for it to be used correctly by the smarty plugin

That should do it, I've tested with a few different core helpers and it works as expected, please log an issue if a helper fails to work properly with this method and I'll attempt to add support as soon as possible.

Use Elements

Again, since Smarty makes it impossible to use PHP in templates this means that in order to call Lithium elements for use in a view powered by Smarty the element rendering methods needed to be exposed to smarty. Again, we do this by extending smarty thru a plugin function.

Element Usage

Lets say you have a menu element, and you need to pass it user data. For the sake of this example we'll call the element file menu.html.tpl as it's an HTML/Smarty file.

Lithium Element

I assume you already know about elements, they're enormously handy.

<?= $this->view()->render(array('element' => 'menu'), array('user' => $currentUser)); ?>

Smarty Element

        {element file="menu" data=['user' => $currentUser]}

Some Notes about Smarty elements

  1. The file parameter is the name of the element, the file extension .html.tpl is automatically appended.

  2. The data array is where you'd pass variables from your view to your element. It is optional.

Consider this: Elements + Smarty template inheritance. You define a default element in the primary layout and wrap it in smarty {block}'s, then, later down the template chain you add a different element, or update the params on the current element. Powerful!


As always, I welcome your collaboration to make things "even more betterer", so fork and contribute if you feel the need.


Original plugin developed by Alex Denvir, inspired by the li3_twig. Massive improvements made by Josey Morton

New to Smarty?

Documentation available at

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