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Yet another CoffeScript template (without with, coffescript, options and templates)


without was started as proof of concept - a way to implement CoffeeScript templating with lexical scope, without using with. It appeared to be possible, simple (just a couple of lines of code - see build() in source) and (with some small extra ideas) even useful.

Some (very sound) reasons to use CoffeeScript as template engine are listed in CoffeeKup, without is just another implementation.

Main feature of without is that template function is not altered in any way. The only thing to change is context it is executed in. It makes possible to pass it arbitrary arguments - any number and names. One can also use @ as one of datasets, passed to template.

CoffeeScript itself was intentially excluded from without dependencies. Feed compile() with already compiled function. Main reason for this design is ability to run without on JavaScript-only client, where .coffee->.js compilation is performed on server side. Or just include both without.js and coffee-script.js on your client and use them together.


t = withOut ->
  div id: 'Main', =>
    span @msg

$ '#output'
.html t msg: "Hello"

Recompiling JST

# app/assets/javascripts/t/
return ->
  div id: 'main', =>
    span @msg

# app/assets/javascripts/t/
return ->
  div id: 'second', =>
    $var @msg
// Later in JavaScript...
t = withOut.JSTs('t/t1', 't/t2')
$('#output').html(t({msg: 'Hello'}))

One can pass paths to .JSTs() as plain parameters (see above), or in array .JSTs(['t/t1', 't/t2']), or even values of some hash .JSTs({one: 't/t1', two: 't/t2'}], or mix all these ways (to any depth).

It's possible to directly pass a function as any JSTs argument.

t = withOut.JSTs 't/t1', -> do hr

Passing data

Generating the same HTML all the time is not very interesting. Templates usually need some data to insert into output.

There are several ways to pass some info into withOut templates:

Via argument(s)

As mentioned above, withOut template can have as many arguments as needed - from zero to infinity.

t = withOut (id, icon, href, text)->
    id: id
    href: href
    -> i class: "fa fa-#{icon}"

One can pass parameters individually or combine them into objects.

Via @

JavaScript's functions get their data to process both via arguments and this (aka @ in CoffeeScript).

So do withOut templates.

t = withOut.compile (a, b, c)->
  dl ->
    dt 'this'
    dd @, br
    dt 'A'
    dd a, br
    dt 'B'
    dd b, br
    # ... self(), a(), b(), c()

But using .call is a bit annoying. To make @ even more handy withOut template by default passes it's first argument as @ either:

t = withOut (a)->
  # Here @==a
  div #... == t(data)

# withOut.compile don't mix @ and arguments[0]
t2 = withOut.compile (a)->
  div @name
  div # != @name, data2)

If you need explicitly pass this into template - use withOut.compile and

In most cases one prefers plain withOut and plain t(data):

t = withOut ->
    id: @id
    class: @class
    href: @href
    => i class: "fa fa-#{@icon}"

html = t id: 'link', class: 'btn btn-default', #...

In first versions so did special function named withOut.$compile(). Later (since v1.1.1) this was delegated to withOut itself.

withOut.JSTs does the same.

withOut.compile is preserved to retain full control over this and arguments.

Via global variables

withOut templates are recompiled before first rendering.

Because of that they cannot access local variables available in the scope they are declared in.

myVar = 1;

t = withOut ->
  span id: myVar # ReferenceError: myVar is not defined!

But global variables are still accesible inside templates. You can use Math.max or (when in Node.js).

If Underscore/Lodash or jQuery are imported as global variables (_/$) you can use them inside withOut templates too.

Via local variables

Finally, some emulation for local variables was added to withOut using .$ member (of individual templates or withOut itself).

withOut.$ ||= {}
withOut.$.myVar = 2016 # "Common" local var

t = withOut ->
  span id: myVar # Ok

alert t()

t2 = withOut ->
  span id: anotherVar # See below

t2.$ = anotherVar: 2016  # Local var

alert t2()

Locals are copied inside template when the latter is recompiled, ie on its first evaluation.

If .$ is a function, it is called at that moment and its result is used instead.

Using special values for locals one can create non-standard HTML tags to use inside template(s).

withOut.$ ||= {}
withOut.$.google = '<>'  # "Global" tag <google>...</google>
withOut.$.fb = '</>'     # "Global" tag <fb/>

t = withOut ->
  google ""
  fb href: ""
  ms ""
  apple src: ""

t.$ = ->   # Get locals on demand
  ms: "<>"      # Tag <ms>...</ms>
  apple: "</>"  # Tag <apple/>

This can be considered as alternative to BYOT described below.

Fat arrow

With @ passing style template engine does it best to correctly set this in all nested functions. It suits most templates but can fail in some complex scenarios.

Fortunately, coffeescript itself can handle it! Just use fat arrow => inside template function. The arrow outside must remain slim -> (see examples above). If you don't use @ in template or in some function in it, you can also use -> in that scope.

If in doubt, use =>.

Aliasing tags

Engine uses some eval magic to inject all tag names (div, span, a...) into template function. It only fails with <var>...</var>, because it's reserved word in JavaScript. So function for <var> tag is named $var.

You can also use same tag names (especialy i) inside your function as regular variables. But then you cannot use those tags.

To fix - create some aliases:

func = ->
  $i = i
  $a = a
  div id: 'Main', =>
    for i in [1..@N]
      li -> $i '#' + i

or even

func = ->
  tag =
    i: i
    a: a
    var: $var
  div id: 'Main', =>
    for i in [1..@N]
      li -> tag.i '#' + i

If aliasing existing tag functions is not your dream - try:

BYOT (Build Your Own Tag)

Inside template function you can create another function for any tag

func = ->
  myTag = tag 'www'
  div ->
    myTag ''
# <div><www></www></div>

For standard tag names it will detect tag emptiness, so (tag 'br') id: 1 will produce <br id="1">, not <br id="1"></br>. You can explicitly set type of created tag: do tag 'br', false gives <br></br>, whereas do tag 'div', true just <div>.

HTML5 doctype is intentionally omitted from withOut. If needed, it can be generated as follow:

(tag "!DOCTYPE", true) html: true
html ->
  head ->
     # ...

To add other doctypes, one should use raw pseudo-tag.


Inside template function some other methods are injected:


Just outputs its arguments

div =>
  text "That's ", @user
  a href: '#', 'Read more'

is equivalent to:

div "That's ", @user, ->
  a href: '#', 'Read more'

print is alias for text.


Like text, but doesn't escape HTML

script =>
  raw '<!--\n', @js, '\n//-->'


text that can contain not only text, but any tags either. Think of notag as tag without name, who doesn't wrap its contents into <>...</>. Like regular tags, it can take attributes from the first argument, but it silently ignores them (nowhere to put arguments into).

It may seem pointless, but think about:

td =>
  (if @id then a else notag) href: "/user/#{@id}", @name


Add HTML-comment <!-- ... -->

div id: @id, =>
  comment =>
    span @msg
  a href: '#'...

Nested comment allowed.


Silently drops its contents and attributes. May be used to quickly cut HTML subtree (or include it back)

td ->
  blackhole ->
    a href: '#', "See more"
    print '...'

Just add/remove # to beginning of blackhole line et voila!


Insert <script>...</script> with its argument compiled to JavaScript.

coffeescript ->
  alert "Alerts suck!"

HTML attributes

Normal tags (not pseudo-tags) support HTML attributes. Must be first (hash) argument to a tag.

Shorcuts .class and #id not supported - use general form.

  id: "link_#{@i}"
  class: "btn btn-primary"
  href: "#/item/#{@i}"

Also HTML5 data-* attributes (including nested hashes) supported:

  type: 'text'
  class: 'input-mini'
  name: 'month'
  placeholder: 'Month'
  required: true
    placement: 'right'  # Bootstrap's .tooltip()
    trigger: 'manual'
    title: 'Select month'
    date:               # Bootstrap's .datepicker()
      format: 'mm/yyyy'
      min: view: mode: 'months'

Nested templates

You can render template inside template

# app/assets/javascripts/t/
return ->
  div id: 'contents', =>
    raw withOut.JSTs('t/t2') @


  • npm test - test in node.js, using mocha
  • npm test --www[=nnnn] - start Web-server to test in browser
  • npm test --win[=msie] - test in Windows Script Host (cscript, Microsoft's JScript)


Debugging coffee-script templates is always tricky task. Since v1.1 withOut make some steps toward developer.

But if source function (fed to .compile) is minified, these debugging facilities are disabled.

Fake source file names

After creating template (but before first rendering) you can set its id. Simply

t = withOut.compile ->
  ... = 'view/main/footer'

$('#footer').html t()

This name will be used to name source file, where recompiled template sits. Modern browsers (except Firefox?) show these "fake" files next to regular scripts found on webpage.

Templates without id set on first rendering get automatic names (simply 1, 2, 3...)

Fresh generated templates (just after .$?compile or .JSTs) have id=null.

Breakpoint inside template

t = withOut ->

t.bp = 1

If you set bp property on template, every its rendering will be paused on debugger statement (which is situated inside without.js). Hit Step Into (or F11) twice and you'll get inside recompiled source code of template. Step it, set breakpoints, incpect stack frames, anything.

You can globally disable such breakpointing by setting withOut.bp = false. If you set withOut.bp = true any template will pause (regardless of its own .bp).

For .JSTs() templates t.bp=1 means break on first component (since JSTs may hold series of sub-templates), t.bp=2 breaks on second sub-template and so on. t.bp = true breaks on all sub-templates of JSTs-template.


withOut is ready to be used in most environments:

Plain script in browser

<script src="without.js"></script>`


require(['without'], function(withOut){ var t = withOut(...) })

Node.js (including Browserify and Webpack)

Use npm module without, eg

npm install -S without`


withOut = require 'without'


bower install without


Use without plugin.

docpad install without

Ruby on Rails assets pipeline

Use gem without-rails:

gem install without-rails


Inspired by ck and Teacup.