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Thymeleaf integration with Apache Tiles 2.x

README.markdown

Thymeleaf - Tiles 2 integration module


Status

This is a thymeleaf extras module, not a part of the Thymeleaf core (and as such following its own versioning schema), but fully supported by the Thymeleaf team.

Current versions:

  • Version 2.1.1.RELEASE - for Thymeleaf 2.1 (requires 2.1.2+)

License

This software is licensed under the Apache License 2.0.

Requirements

  • Thymeleaf 2.1.2+
  • Apache Tiles 2 version 2.2.1+ (2.2.2 recommended)
  • Web environment (Tiles integration cannot work offline)

Maven info

  • groupId: org.thymeleaf.extras
  • artifactId:
    • Main package: thymeleaf-extras-tiles2
    • Spring 3 integration package: thymeleaf-extras-tiles2-spring3
    • Spring 4 integration package: thymeleaf-extras-tiles2-spring4

Distribution packages

Distribution packages (binaries + sources + javadoc) can be downloaded from SourceForge.

Features

  • (Optional) Spring MVC 3 integration
  • (Optional) Spring Web Flow 2.3 integration, with AJAX fragment rendering support.
  • Use Thymeleaf in your Tiles definitions:
    • Use Thymeleaf templates.
    • Include Thymeleaf templates (or fragments of templates) as attributes.
    • Compatible with Tiles definition wildcards (Tiles 2.2.2+).
    • Thymeleaf template/attribute definitions can include selectors (similar to th:include/th:replace):
      • By fragment name: "template :: fragment"
      • By DOM selector: "template :: div#content"
      • Can include Standard Expressions: "${templateName} :: ${conf.fragName}"
  • New tiles dialect:
    • tiles:include / tiles:replace for including Tiles attributes.
    • tiles:fragment for signaling fragments to be included as attributes.
    • tiles:string for inserting String-type Tiles attributes.
  • Enable Natural templating in your Tiles markup fragments:
    • It allows you to use only specific parts of your templates as Tiles attributes.
    • You can add markup and styling surrounding those specific parts for static prototyping purposes.
  • Mix JSPs and Thymeleaf templates in the same definition, for better legacy integration / migration.
    • Thymeleaf fragment templates see variables defined in higher-level containing layout templates.
    • JSP fragments see variables defined in higher-level containing JSP/Thymeleaf templates. And viceversa.

Configuration with Spring

(Note: the following code examples use Spring 3.x package naming (.spring3.). If you are using the thymeleaf-extras-tiles2-spring4 package for integration with Spring 4 instead, you should replace .spring3. with .spring4.)

In order to use Apache Tiles 2 with Thymeleaf in your Spring MVC application, we will first need to configure our application in the usual way for Spring + Thymeleaf applications (TemplateEngine bean, template resolvers, etc.), and then create an instance of the ThymeleafTilesConfigurer (similar to the Spring Tiles configurer for JSP), like:

    <bean id="tilesConfigurer" class="org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.spring3.web.configurer.ThymeleafTilesConfigurer">
      <property name="definitions">
        <list>
          <value>/WEB-INF/tiles-defs.xml</value>
        </list>
      </property>
    </bean>

Also, we will need to configure our Thymeleaf view resolver in order to use a specialized Thymeleaf-Tiles2 view class:

    <bean id="tilesViewResolver" class="org.thymeleaf.spring3.view.ThymeleafViewResolver">
      <property name="viewClass" value="org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.spring3.web.view.ThymeleafTilesView"/>
      <property name="templateEngine" ref="templateEngine" />
    </bean>

...and finally, add the Tiles dialect to our Template Engine so that we can use the tiles:* attributes:

    <bean id="templateEngine" class="org.thymeleaf.spring3.SpringTemplateEngine">
      ...
      <property name="additionalDialects">
        <set>
          <bean class="org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.dialect.TilesDialect"/>
        </set>
      </property>
      ...
    </bean>

And that's all! Now we can make our controller methods return Tiles definition names as view names and everything should work fine.

Configuration and usage without Spring

Following the standard configuration mechanisms in Tiles 2.2, in order to use Thymeleaf + Tiles in a non-Spring application, we should:

  • Either configure an org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.web.startup.ThymeleafTilesListener at our web.xml
  • ...or configure an org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.web.startup.ThymeleafTilesServlet, also at our web.xml.

Both these artifacts declare and initialize a Thymeleaf-enabled TilesContainer instance, which we can access with:

    final TilesContainer tiles = ServletUtil.getContainer(servletContext);

...and then execute, specifying the definition to be executed and the following sequence of request items:

  1. The Thymeleaf template engine (TemplateEngine)
  2. The Thymeleaf context (IContext)
  3. The HttpServletRequest
  4. The HttpServletResponse
  5. The java.io.Writer the result should be written to (for example, response.getWriter())

Put as code:

    tiles.render("myDefinition", templateEngine, ctx, request, response, writer);

Using Thymeleaf in our definition files

Using Thymeleaf in our definition files (usually called something like tiles-defs.xml) is easy. These are the key points:

  • Thymeleaf is now the default template type, instead of JSP.
    • We can use templateType="thymeleaf" or simply omit teamplateType for our templates, and type="thymeleaf" for attributes.
    • We can use templateType="jsp" for our JSP templates (type="jsp" for our attributes).
  • Thymeleaf value syntax is equivalent to that of th:include and th:replace attributes: "TEMPLATESELECTOR (:: FRAGMENTSELECTOR)?"
    • Template Selector:
      • Understandable by the template resolvers you configured, just as with any other thymeleaf templates.
      • Can use Standard Expressions: ${...}, *{...}, literals, operands, etc. (externalized messages and links are not allowed).
    • Fragment Selector (optional):
      • Can specify fragments by name (using attribute tiles:fragment).
      • Can specify DOM Selector (div#content)
      • Can use Standard Expressions: ${...}, *{...}, literals, operands, etc. (externalized messages and links are not allowed).
  • Tiles definition wildcards (from Tiles 2.2.2) can be used.

A quick example:

    <tiles-definitions>
      ...  
      <definition name="main" template="basic_layout">
        <put-attribute name="content">
          <definition template="basic_contentlayout :: content">
            <put-attribute name="text" value="main :: text" />
          </definition>
        </put-attribute>
        <put-attribute name="side" value="${config.sideColumnTemplate}" />
      </definition>
      ...
    </tiles-definitions>

Inserting attributes

The new tiles dialect allows us to insert Tiles attributes easily, just as we'd do with th:include:

    <html xmlns:th="http://www.thymeleaf.org" xmlns:tiles="http://www.thymeleaf.org">
      ...
      <body>
        ...
        <div tiles:include="side">
           some prototyping markup over here...
        </div>
        ...
      </body>
    </html>

That tiles:include will work equivalently to the Standard Dialect's th:include, only inserting a Tiles attribute by its name (as specified in the definition file) instead of another template.

Another possibility, tiles:replace:

    <div tiles:replace="side">
       some prototyping markup over here...
    </div>

...will work almost exactly as tiles:include, but replacing the containing <div> tag with the attribute contents, instead of inserting these contents inside it.

What about inserting string attributes? Easy:

    <span tiles:string="some_string_attribute">blah blah</span>

And there's one more attribute, which allows us to (optionally) specify which part of our template we will be using as a fragment. So:

    <div tiles:fragment="text">
       lorem ipsum sic dolor amet blah blah...
    </div>

...will specify a fragment we can use in our definitions with:

    <put-attribute name="text" value="main :: text" />

Mixing Thymeleaf and JSP

For a better legacy integration and a smoother migration of applications, Thymeleaf templates and JSPs can be mixed together in Tiles definitions, so that Thymeleaf templates can include JSP attributes, and viceversa.

And these fragments in different technologies can even communicate, so that they can see the variables that the others define:

  • Thymeleaf attribute included into Thymeleaf template:
    • Attribute can see all local variables (e.g. th:with) defined in template.
  • Thymeleaf attribute included into JSP template:
    • Attribute can see all variables defined (e.g. <c:set.../>) with at least request scope in the JSP.
  • JSP attribute included into Thymeleaf template:
    • Attribute can see all local variables (e.g. th:with) defined in templates as request attributes.

Using Spring Web Flow

In order to use Thymeleaf + Tiles in our Spring Web Flow applications, we will first need to modify the definition of our View Resolver, so that it uses thymeleaf's AJAX-enabled implementation configured to create View instances that understand the SpringWebFlow-Tiles combination:

    <bean id="tilesViewResolver" class="org.thymeleaf.spring3.view.AjaxThymeleafViewResolver">
      <property name="viewClass" value="org.thymeleaf.extras.tiles2.spring3.web.view.FlowAjaxThymeleafTilesView"/>
      <property name="templateEngine" ref="templateEngine" />
    </bean>

Scenario

Let's say we have a Tiles definition like:

    ...
    <definition name="order_details" template="orderdet">
      <put-attribute name="prog_content" value="progress :: progtext" />
    </definition>
    ...

Which references a template file called orderdet, which will probably be added a prefix and a suffix by the Thymeleaf template resolver, resulting into something like /WEB-INF/templates/orderdet.html.

Also, we can see how orderdet includes a fragment (an attribute in Tiles jargon) called prog_content, which resolves to a fragment (specified with tiles:fragment) called progtext in template progress (probably /WEB-INF/templates/progress.html).

Let's see how these two template files could look like. First, the relevant parts of orderdet.html:

    <!DOCTYPE html>

    <html xmlns:th="http://www.thymeleaf.org" xmlns:tiles="http://www.thymeleaf.org">

      <head>
        ...
        <script type="text/javascript" th:src="@{/resources/dojo/dojo.js}"></script>
        <script type="text/javascript" th:src="@{/resources/spring/Spring.js}"></script>
        <script type="text/javascript" th:src="@{/resources/spring/Spring-Dojo.js}"></script>
      </head>

      <body>

        ...
        ...

        <div tiles:replace="prog_content">
          Progress of your order: GOOD!
        </div>

        <form id="progressForm" method="post">
          <input type="submit" id="progressButton" name="_eventId_checkprogress" value="Update order progress!" />
        </form>


        <script type="text/javascript">
            Spring.addDecoration(
                    new Spring.AjaxEventDecoration(
                            {
                             elementId:'progressButton',
                             event:'onclick',
                             formId:'progressForm'
                            }));
        </script>

      </body>

    </html>

There you can see how we added the required JavaScript libraries from the Spring JS project (a part of Spring Web Flow), and then linked an AJAX call for Spring Web Flow's event checkprogress to our form button.

The relevant parts of our progress.html file could look like:

    ...
    <div id="progressText" tiles:fragment="progtext">
      Progress of your order <span th:text="${order.percentComplete}">34</span>%
    </div>
    ...

Note that, in order for Spring Web Flow to be able to refresh a markup fragment via AJAX, the specific fragment must be completely enclosed in an element specifying an id attribute, like the <div id="progressText" ...> you see above. Also note that in order to preserve that id when it renders, we use tiles:replace instead of tiles:include.

Our flow can now define a transition for updating that fragment as a part of the Order Details view (view-state):

    <view-state id="orderdetailsview" view="orderdet">
        <transition on="checkprogress">
          <render fragments="prog_content"/>
        </transition>
    </view-state>

Your AJAX interactions should now work seamlessly.

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