0.8.0 • Public • Published


Generate static html files from Handlebars files with YAML front matter.

Intended as a pandoc-like tool for building a simple page, or even for generating basic static websites, Taft is lightning fast, has a great command-line tool, and works for building many files or just one.


Taft works great installed either locally or globally.

npm install [-g] taft

(If you install locally, use node_modules/.bin/taft as the command instead of taft in the examples.)

command line


Say you have this file. It's handlebars with yaml front matter.

cauldronStatus: bubbling
workplace: cavern
script: magic-spells.js
<p>The cauldron in my {{workplace}} is {{cauldronStatus}}.</p>
<script src="{{script}}"></script>

Run this command:

taft source/page1.hbs 
taft building source/page1.hbs
<p>The cauldron in my cavern is bubbling.</p>
<script src="magic-spells.js"></script>

By default, output goes to stdout and status messages output to stderr, so one can safely pipe the result.

Specify a single output file with --output or -o:

taft source/page1.hbs -o build/page1.html

To generate more than one file, pass a destination directory.

taft source/page1.hbs source/page2.hbs 'other/*.hbs' --dest-dir build/
taft building source/page1.hbs
taft building source/page2.hbs
taft building other/more.hbs

Read from stdin by giving '-' as the file name.

cat source/page1.hbs | taft - > build/page1.html

Magic keys in your YAML front matter

Taft pays special attention to some keys in a page's YAML front matter: ext, layout and published. If published: false, then the page won't be built. Read on for details on the other two keys!

Command line options

    -H, --helper <file>          js file that exports an object containing handlebars helpers
    -p, --partial <file>         Handlebars partial
    -d, --data <data>            JSON, YAML or INI file or data (stdin with '-' or 'key:-')
    -t, --layout <file>          Handlebars template file
    -y, --default-layout <name>  use this layout as default
    -o, --output <path>          output path
    -D, --dest-dir <path>        output directory (mandatory if more than one file given)
    -C, --cwd <path>             save files relative this directory
    -e, --ext <string>           output file extension (default: html)
    -v, --verbose                output some debugging information
    -s, --silent                 don't output anything

A quick run-down:

  • --default-layout: The basename of the layout to use for pages with no layout given. By default, there is no default layout.
  • --ext: By default when using --dest-dir, files are saved as '.html'. This option specifies another extension. This will be overridden if the file has an ext key in its YAML front matter.
  • --cwd: When used in combination with --dest-dir, files will be saved relative to --cwd. For example, --cwd=src/pages --dest-dir build will save src/pages/page.html to build/page.html.

The following sections give details about the main options: --data, --helper, --layout and --partial. You'll find that a complex Taft command can get very long. That's OK! Use a Makefile to tract and reproduce commands.


Use a layout (aka template) to wrap a file with content. The layout should use the {{> body}} helper to refer to the content.

You can register as many layouts as you like with Taft. However, they should not share basenames (e.g. spooky/example.handlebars' and scary/example.handlebars`).

The YFM data from the content page will be available in the layout. If there's a conflict, use the 'page' object.

workplace: haunted wood
script: main.js
<p>Notes from the {{page.workplace}} and the {{workplace}}.</p>
{{> body}}
<script src="{{page.script}}"></script>
<script src="{{script}}"></script>
taft --layout layouts/template.hbs source/page1.hbs > build/page1.html
<p>Notes from the cavern and the haunted wood.</p>
<p>The cauldron in my cavern is bubbling.</p>
<script src="magic-spells.js"></script>
<script src="main.js"></script>
# source/page1.hbs
# The layout for this page will be 'layouts/default.hbs'.
title: My Favorite Encantations
# source/page2.hbs
# The layout for this page will be 'layouts/potions.hbs'.
# Note that Taft allows you to just specify the base name of the file.
# Don't expect things to work correctly if you have two layouts with the same basename
title: Special Potions
layout: potions
# source/page3.hbs
# This page will be built without a layout.
layout: none
title: Super-Special Page
Special Stuff...

Default layouts

One can take advantage of a default layout one of three ways: Specify it explicity with the --default-layout option, Have a layout file named default.*, or only register one layout.

If you have a default layout but want to turn it off for a page, put layout: false in the YAML front matter.

taft --layout layouts/default.hbs --layout layouts/potions.hbs 
    source/page1.hbs source/page2.hbs source/page3.hbs -C _source -D build


Taft will register partials from one or more files. Unlike with layouts, all of the partials must be parsed before pages can be built, so registering many partials may slow down your build.

# Register the partial {{> fun}}
taft --partial partials/fun.hbs source/page1.hbs > build/page1.html
taft building source/page1.hbs

# Register the all the partials in partials/
taft --partial 'partials/*.hbs' source/page1.hbs > build/page1.html
taft building source/page1.hbs


Taft will register helpers for you. You pass it a file that exports a helper, or the name of a NPM helper module, Taft will register it to Handlebars.

taft --helper helpers/magic.js source/page1.hbs > build/page1.hbs

The helpers project has many useful helpers, the related repo template-helpers collects many of them.

npm install --save-dev template-helpers
taft --helper template-helpers source/page1.hbs > build/page1.hbs

If you're using a custom file, you can either export a function or an object containing several functions. In the former format, the function will be called with two arguments: Handlebars and Taft.options. In the latter format, the key of each function is the name of the helper.

// This will be available in Handlebars as '{{magic}}'

module.exports = function(Handlebars, options) {
    Handlebars.registerHelper('magic', function(){
        /* do stuff */
// {{whiteMagic}} and {{blackMagic}}

// Use your favorite node module
var spells = require('spells');

module.exports = {
    whiteMagic: function() { /* do stuff */ },

    blackMagic function() { /* do bad stuff */ }

Note that helpers must be installed in the same scope that you're running Taft. If you're using a global copy of taft, you'll need to install the helper globally. If you don't want to pollute the global space, or want to track everything, use a local copy of taft (node_modules/.bin/taft).


Use the --data flag to specify sources of data for Taft to read in. Use INI, YAML, JSON, or YAML front matter files. Taft will read data from files, or from stdin input in those formats. Use '-' as the file name to read from stdin.

taft --data data/spooky.yaml source/page1.hbs > build/page1.hbs
echo '{"workplace": "haunted forest"}' | taft --data - source/page2.hbs > build/page2.hbs

In the first example above, data in the file data/spooky.yaml can be accessed via the object {{spooky}}.

Use globs to read in multiple data files at once. If the data directory contains spooky.yaml and scary.yaml:

taft --data data/*.yaml source/page.hbs > build/page.hbs
scary variable 'ghost': {{ spooky.ghost }}
scary variable 'monster': {{ scary.monster }}

You can even specify an INI/JSON/YAML string as the option to the --data flag. This isn't terribly useful, but it's a free side-effect of reading from stdin.

taft --data 'cool=true' source/page.hbs
taft --data '{"cool": true}' source/page.hbs

Data prefixes

Prefixes can be used to place data read from file globs or stdin in a named object. For example:

In this example, {{laughs}} will be a list containing "guffaw" and "cackle":

echo '["guffaw", "cackle"]' | taft --data laughs:- source/page.hbs > build/page.hbs
    // do stuff

Here, all of the files that match the pattern data/cheer/*.yaml will be placed in the list {{cheer}}:

taft --data 'cheer:data/cheer/*.yaml' source/index.hbs > build/page.hbs

If might be used like this:

{{#each cheer}}
    <li>{{title}}: {{description}}</li>

Note that you cannot provide a prefix for a single file, or a JSON or YAML string passed to --data.

Environment variables and globals

The taft command line tool adds your environment variables to a variable called ENV.

The path is: {{ENV.PATH}}
# Will print PATH
DEVELOPMENT=1 taft source/page.hbs
# Won't print the PATH
DEVELOPMENT= taft source/page.hbs

The command line tool also adds some useful values to a TAFT global. The first four are the same for every page per run, the last is per-page:

TAFT = {
    version: '0.4.11'       // current Taft version
    cwd: 'tests',           // --cwd value
    destDir: 'output',      // --dest-dir value 
    ext: 'html',            // --ext value
    output: 'output.html',  // --output value, or destination file if using --dest-dir and --cwd
    file: 'pages/test.html' // output file path (not including destDir)

About specifying files

If you pass a glob (a path with a wildcard) to --partial, --data, --layout or --helper, make sure to enclose it in single quotes, or else your shell will expand it, and Taft will interpret the files after the first one as pages.

taft --partial 'partials/*' source/page1.hbs
taft --data 'data/*.{yaml,json}' source/page1.hbs

The --partial, --data, --layout, and --helper options are repeatable:

taft --partial fun.hbs --partial cool.hbs source/page1.hbs
taft --data newt.ini --data 'frog-*.yaml' source/page1.hbs


Taft is designed to use on the command line, but it has a simple API. Layouts, partials, helpers can be passed a list of files or globs, or a single filename as a string. Javascript objects are also acceptable for the data option.

var Taft = require('taft');

var options = {
    layouts: ['layout.hbs']
    partials: 'layout.partial'
    data: [{"key": "foo"}, 'data.json'],
    helpers: 'helper.js',
    defaultLayout: 'layout.hbs'
var taft = new Taft(options);

// returns a Content object, which is just a String
// that possibly has two additional properties:
// ext - the extension the file wants to have
// source - the path to the source file 

var result = taft.build('source/page1.hbs');

Taft also comes with chainable methods for adding layouts, helpers, data or partials. These can take the same arguments as the options. The above and below blocks of code are equivalent.

var taft = new Taft()
    .data([{"key": "foo"}, 'data.json'])

var result = taft.build('source/page1.hbs');


For a super-quick build of a single file, use the Taft.taft method:

var Taft = require('taft');

var options = {
    layouts: ['layout.hbs']

// returns a string containing the result
var result = Taft.taft('source/page1.handlebars', options);


Taft is available under the GNU General Public License. It comes with absolutely no warranty. See LICENSE for more.

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