Generic interface to multiple Ruby template engines
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NOTE The following file documents the current release of Tilt (2.0). See for documentation for Tilt 1.4.

Tilt is a thin interface over a bunch of different Ruby template engines in an attempt to make their usage as generic as possible. This is useful for web frameworks, static site generators, and other systems that support multiple template engines but don't want to code for each of them individually.

The following features are supported for all template engines (assuming the feature is relevant to the engine):

  • Custom template evaluation scopes / bindings
  • Ability to pass locals to template evaluation
  • Support for passing a block to template evaluation for "yield"
  • Backtraces with correct filenames and line numbers
  • Template file caching and reloading
  • Fast, method-based template source compilation

The primary goal is to get all of the things listed above right for all template engines included in the distribution.

Support for these template engines is included with the package:

Engine File Extensions Required Libraries Maintainer
Asciidoctor .ad, .adoc, .asciidoc asciidoctor (>= 0.1.0) Community
ERB .erb, .rhtml none (included ruby stdlib) Tilt team
InterpolatedString .str none (included ruby core) Tilt team
Erubis .erb, .rhtml, .erubis erubis Tilt team
Haml .haml haml Tilt team
Sass .sass haml (< 3.1) or sass (>= 3.1) Tilt team
Scss .scss haml (< 3.1) or sass (>= 3.1) Tilt team
Less CSS .less less Tilt team
Builder .builder builder Tilt team
Liquid .liquid liquid Community
RDiscount .markdown, .mkd, .md rdiscount Community
Redcarpet .markdown, .mkd, .md redcarpet Community
BlueCloth .markdown, .mkd, .md bluecloth Community
Kramdown .markdown, .mkd, .md kramdown Community
Pandoc .markdown, .mkd, .md pandoc Community
reStructuredText .rst pandoc Community
Maruku .markdown, .mkd, .md maruku Community
CommonMarker .markdown, .mkd, .md commonmarker Community
RedCloth .textile redcloth Community
RDoc .rdoc rdoc Tilt team
Radius .radius radius Community
Markaby .mab markaby Tilt team
Nokogiri .nokogiri nokogiri Community
CoffeeScript .coffee coffee-script (+ javascript) Tilt team
CoffeeScript (literate) .litcoffee coffee-script (>= 1.5.0) (+ javascript) Tilt team
LiveScript .ls livescript (+ javascript) Tilt team
TypeScript .ts typescript (+ javascript) Tilt team
Creole (Wiki markup) .wiki, .creole creole Community
WikiCloth (Wiki markup) .wiki, .mediawiki, .mw wikicloth Community
Yajl .yajl yajl-ruby Community
CSV .rcsv none (Ruby >= 1.9), fastercsv (Ruby < 1.9) Tilt team
Prawn .prawn prawn (>= 2.0.0) Community
Babel .es6, .babel, .jsx babel-transpiler Tilt team
Opal .rb opal Community

Every supported template engine has a maintainer. Note that this is the maintainer of the Tilt integration, not the maintainer of the template engine itself. The maintainer is responsible for providing an adequate integration and keeping backwards compatibility across Tilt version. Some integrations are maintained by the community, which is handled in the following way:

  • The Tilt team will liberally accept pull requests against the template integration. It's up to the community as a whole to make sure the integration stays consistent and backwards compatible over time.
  • Test failures in community-maintained integrations will not be prioritized by the Tilt team and a new version of Tilt might be released even though these tests are failing.
  • Anyone can become a maintainer for a template engine integration they care about. Just open an issue and we'll figure it out.

These template engines ship with their own Tilt integration:

Engine File Extensions Required Libraries
Slim .slim slim (>= 0.7)
Embedded JavaScript sprockets
Embedded CoffeeScript sprockets
JST sprockets
Org-mode .org org-ruby (>= 0.6.2)
Handlebars .hbs, handlebars tilt-handlebars
Jbuilder .jbuilder tilt-jbuilder

See for detailed information on template engine options and supported features.

Basic Usage

Instant gratification:

require 'erb'
require 'tilt'
template ='templates/foo.erb')
=> #<Tilt::ERBTemplate @file="templates/foo.erb" ...>
output = template.render
=> "Hello world!"

It's recommended that calling programs explicitly require template engine libraries (like 'erb' above) at load time. Tilt attempts to lazy require the template engine library the first time a template is created but this is prone to error in threaded environments.

The {Tilt} module contains generic implementation classes for all supported template engines. Each template class adheres to the same interface for creation and rendering. In the instant gratification example, we let Tilt determine the template implementation class based on the filename, but {Tilt::Template} implementations can also be used directly:

require 'tilt/haml'
template ='templates/foo.haml')
output = template.render

The render method takes an optional evaluation scope and locals hash arguments. Here, the template is evaluated within the context of the Person object with locals x and y:

require 'tilt/erb'
template ='templates/foo.erb')
joe = Person.find('joe')
output = template.render(joe, :x => 35, :y => 42)

If no scope is provided, the template is evaluated within the context of an object created with

A single Template instance's render method may be called multiple times with different scope and locals arguments. Continuing the previous example, we render the same compiled template but this time in jane's scope:

jane = Person.find('jane')
output = template.render(jane, :x => 22, :y => nil)

Blocks can be passed to render for templates that support running arbitrary ruby code (usually with some form of yield). For instance, assuming the following in foo.erb:

Hey <%= yield %>!

The block passed to render is called on yield:

template ='foo.erb')
template.render { 'Joe' }
# => "Hey Joe!"

Template Mappings

The {Tilt::Mapping} class includes methods for associating template implementation classes with filename patterns and for locating/instantiating template classes based on those associations.

The {Tilt} module has a global instance of Mapping that is populated with the table of template engines above.

The {Tilt.register} method associates a filename pattern with a specific template implementation. To use ERB for files ending in a .bar extension:

 >> Tilt.register Tilt::ERBTemplate, 'bar'
 => #<Tilt::ERBTemplate @file="views/" ...>

Retrieving the template class for a file or file extension:

 >> Tilt['']
 => Tilt::ERBTemplate
 >> Tilt['haml']
 => Tilt::HamlTemplate

Retrieving a list of template classes for a file:

>> Tilt.templates_for('')
=> [Tilt::ERBTemplate]
>> Tilt.templates_for('')
=> [Tilt::ERBTemplate, Tilt::HamlTemplate]

The template class is determined by searching for a series of decreasingly specific name patterns. When creating a new template with'views/foo.html.erb'), we check for the following template mappings:

  1. views/foo.html.erb
  2. foo.html.erb
  3. html.erb
  4. erb


Tilt needs to know the encoding of the template in order to work properly:

Tilt will use Encoding.default_external as the encoding when reading external files. If you're mostly working with one encoding (e.g. UTF-8) we highly recommend setting this option. When providing a custom reader block ( { custom_string }) you'll have ensure the string is properly encoded yourself.

Most of the template engines in Tilt also allows you to override the encoding using the :default_encoding-option:

tmpl ='hello.erb', :default_encoding => 'Big5')

Ultimately it's up to the template engine how to handle the encoding: It might respect :default_encoding, it might always assume it's UTF-8 (like CoffeeScript), or it can do its own encoding detection.

Template Compilation

Tilt compiles generated Ruby source code produced by template engines and reuses it on subsequent template invocations. Benchmarks show this yields a 5x-10x performance increase over evaluating the Ruby source on each invocation.

Template compilation is currently supported for these template engines: StringTemplate, ERB, Erubis, Haml, Nokogiri, Builder and Yajl.


Tilt is Copyright (c) 2010 Ryan Tomayko and distributed under the MIT license. See the COPYING file for more info.