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A Smarty-like, pluggable, view controlled template framework+language to enable MV* applications


Protolus templates are a relative of the Smarty syntax, focused on testing and modularity/reusability through template recursion and view-based rendering control to enable MVVM.

Template Recursion

The templates started as an experiment to validate recursive smarty rendering in php, and slowly extended from there incorporating multi-level controllers, wrappers, 2nd pass javascript injection and pluggable tags. The basic concept is that a unit of work is a 'panel' which is a chunk of html which adds a Smarty-like macro language to add render logic to the basic HTML, on top of this we add a number of macros which add awareness of our environment along with macros to control special features. When it moved to JS it naturally came along with a new parser/renderer.

View Based Control

The key feature is render flow is controlled by the view rather than the 'controller' logic (which only serves to populate data for a given interface). So you can stub out an entire interface without touching any controllers, and the pure JS rendering means that this can happen on the server or in the browser.



  1. page This is where we set the main data for the page macro, and should be set on the entry panel of all requests (rather than us manually setting them in the controller, and thus obfuscating it from the GUI layer).

    1. title : this is the actual title tag content
    2. heading: page heading, used as a subsection label, but can be used for most anything.
    3. meta: text for the meta tag
    4. wrapper: this is the wrapper that we will render the page inside of
  2. panel This is where a subpanel is rendered as well as a test is defined. In order to render a panel:

     {panel name="path/relative/to/panel/root"}
  3. value Any value can be be output in the form:



  4. if the if construct allows you to conditionally execute logic, for example:

     {if $bobMckenzieIsDirecting}

    it also supports else clauses:

     {if $myList.length > 0}
         <!--iterate over list-->
         <!--show 'no data' state-->
  5. foreach You can iterate across a collection using the foreach macro which supports 3 attributes

    1. from : the object or array we are iterating over
    2. item : the variable name we store the current iteration's value in
    3. key : the variable name we store the current iteration's key in

    as an example:

     {foreach from="$thing" item="item" key="key"}
  6. literal An encapsulation to prevent '{}' from attempting to parse as macros, useful for wrapping inline js or css.


A controller is just an arbitrary piece of JS which allows you to register data with the view's renderer. This is exposed as 'renderer' in the scope of the controller where you do the assignments.

    renderer.set('myValue', aVariable);

You can use the data layer, interact with an API or manually manage these resources the controllers are raw node.js, so they are agnostic to the origin of the data.


Wrappers are a special kind of template which renders upon completion of the inner content generation and serve as a container for global page structure which you want to persist across many pages. The wrapper, like a panel, also has an optional controller, and it attempts to write the rendered page into the 'content' variable.

Resources may be targeted to outputs (by default all output will be to 'HEAD' which is assumed to be at the bottom of your HEAD tag) which occur within the wrapper. Let's look at the simplest working example: sample.wrapper.tpl



First, intialize the Templates subsystem;


There are a variety of available options:

  1. scriptDirectory : The directory from which to load the controllers, defaults to 'App/Panels'
  2. templateDirectory : The directory from which to load the panels, defaults to 'App/Controllers'
  3. doTestExistence : The function to use to load a panel, defaults to a file loader
  4. doLoad : The function used to test for a panel's existence, defaults to testing file existence

Now, you're ready to render:

Templates.renderPanel('page', function(html){
    console.log('html', html);

And if you need to inject 'something' in a target 'FOO' you've put in the page, which has been rendered into myVar

myVar = Templates.insertTextAtTarget('something', 'FOO', myVar);

inserts wherever it finds the signature on the page



Tests use mocha/should to execute the tests from root


If you find any rough edges, please submit a bug!


-Abbey Hawk Sparrow