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CTML is a C++ HTML document constructor, that was designed to be simple to use and implement. Has no dependencies on any other projects, only the C++ standard library.


For use in a project, you may copy the ctml.hpp file into your project and include that way. Alternatively, if you use CMake, you could add CTML as a dependency to your project.


Tests are included with the library and are written using the Catch2 header-only test library. These tests are located in the tests/tests.cpp file.



Every class and enum in CTML is enclosed in the CTML namespace. For instance, the Node class would be under CTML::Node.


Most methods for operating on CTML::Node instances are chainable, meaning that you may run these operations multiple times on the same expression.


The basis of CTML is the CTML::Node class, which allows you to create simple HTML nodes and convert them to a std::string value.

The most simple valid HTML node that can be represented is, for instance, an empty paragraph tag, which can be created with the following code.

CTML::Node node("p");

Which would output in string form as:


To get this string output, you would use the CTML::Node::ToString(CTML::ToStringOptions) method. This method outputs a string representation of the Node and its children using the options supplied.

This ToStringOptions structure allows the user to change whether the string outputs elements using multiple lines or one line, if nodes should have a trailing new line at the end, the indentation level of the node if outputting to multiple lines, and whether text content of an element should be escaped.

You can add simple text content to this Node by changing that line to the following:

CTML::Node node("p", "Hello world!");

Which would output as the following:

<p>Hello world!</p>

You can quickly add classes and IDs to a Node (possibly attributes in the future) with a syntax in the name field that mimics Emmet Abbriviations. This is shown in the following definition:

CTML::Node node("p.text#para", "Hello world!");

Which would output the following HTML:

<p class="text" id="para">Hello world!</p>

You can then append children to these Node instances by using the CTML::Node::AppendChild(CTML::Node) method, like below:

CTML::Node node("div");

node.AppendChild(CTML::Node("p", "Hello world!"));

Which would give this output:

<div><p>Hello world!</p></div>

You can also append more text to the parent node with the CTML::Node::AppendText(std::string) method, which simply adds a Node with the type of TEXT to the children. This is shown below:

CTML::Node node("div");

node.AppendChild(CTML::Node("p", "Hello world!"))
    .AppendText("Hello again!");

Which would output as:

<div><p>Hello world!</p> Hello again!</div>

You can also set attributes on a Node, modifying the below example to do so looks like:

CTML::Node node("div");

node.SetAttribute("title", "Hello title!")
    .AppendChild(CTML::Node("p", "Hello world!"))
    .AppendText("Hello again!");

Which would output as:

<div title="Hello title!"><p>Hello world!</p> Hello again!</div>

If you wish to make a self-closing element, such as an <img> element, you will want to use the CTML::Node::UseClosingTag(bool) method. This method allows you to toggle the use of the closing tag. Keep in mind that toggling this also doesn't append any of the child nodes to the output. An example of the method is below:

CTML::Node image("img");

image.SetAttribute("src", "/animage.png")

This has the following output:

<img src="/animage.png">


To create an HTML document that contains these nodes, you can use the CTML::Document class. This class includes doctype, head, and body nodes for adding nodes to.

A simple HTML document would be created with:

CTML::Document document;

You can then output this as a string with the CTML::Document::ToString(CTML::ToStringOptions) method. This method uses the same structure that the node class uses.

By using the default empty Document::ToString method you would get an output of:

<!DOCTYPE html><html><head></head><body></body></html>

You can then append nodes to it using the CTML::Document::AppendNodeToHead(CTML::Node) or CTML::Document::AppendNodeToBody(CTML::Node) methods.

Searching Nodes

There are two ways to search through the document tree for nodes. The first of these ways is to use the CTML::Node::GetChildByName(const std::string&) method. This will only search the node's immediate children without recursion, and only operates based on the name of the node, such as div or section. In addition for legacy reasons, it will only return a single node, even if there are multiple matches.

If you need more fine-grained searching for nodes, you can use the CTML::Node::QuerySelector(const std::string&) method, which also has an alias of CTML::Document::QuerySelector(const std::string&) for searching the entire document for matches. This method operates similarly to querySelectorAll in JavaScript, in that it will recursively search the a node's children for matches to the selector, and return only that node match.

For example, if you have the following document:

<div class="one"><div class="two"><div class="three"></div></div><div>

And you use the following code:

std::vector<Node*> matches = CTML::Document::QuerySelector(".one .two .three")

The matches vector will only have one child, a pointer to the node for div.three. This method supports searching by any combination of element name, attribute name and value (including using different attribute comparators, as can be found here), class, and ID.


CTML is licensed under the MIT License, the terms of which can be seen here.