13.2 Templating Systems

A templating system provides a way of separating the code in a web page from the layout of that page. In larger projects, templates can be used to allow designers to deal exclusively with designing web pages and programmers to deal (more or less) exclusively with programming. The basic idea of a templating system is that the web page itself contains special markers that are replaced with dynamic content. A web designer can create the HTML for a page and simply worry about the layout, using the appropriate markers for different kinds of dynamic content that are needed. The programmer, on the other hand, is responsible for creating the code that generates the dynamic content for the markers.

To make this more concrete, let's look at a simple example. Consider the following web page, which asks the user to supply a name and, if a name is provided, thanks the user:

<html>   <head>     <title>User Information</title>   </head>      <body>     <?php if (!empty($_GET['name'])) {       // do something with the supplied values     ?>        <p><font face="helvetica,arial">Thank you for filling out the form,         <?php echo $_GET['name'] ?>.</font></p> <?php } else { ?>       <p><font face="helvetica,arial">Please enter the       following information:</font></p>          <form action="<?php echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF'] ?>">         <table>           <tr>             <td>Name:</td>             <td><input type="text" name="name" /></td>           </tr>         </table>       </form>     <?php } ?>   </body> </html>

The placement of the different PHP elements within various layout tags, such as the font and table elements, are better left to a designer, especially as the page gets more complex. Using a templating system, we can split this page into separate files, some containing PHP code and some containing the layout. The HTML pages will then contain special markers where dynamic content should be placed. Example 13-1 shows the new HTML template page for our simple form, which is stored in the file user.template. It uses the {DESTINATION} marker to indicate the script that should process the form.

Example 13-1. HTML template for user input form
<html>   <head>     <title>User Information</title>   </head>      <body>     <p><font face="helvetica,arial">Please enter the following      information:</font></p>        <form action="{DESTINATION}">       <table>         <tr>           <td>Name:</td>           <td><input type="text" name="name" /></td>         </tr>       </table>     </form>   </body> </html>

Example 13-2 shows the template for the thank you page, called thankyou.template, that is displayed after the user has filled out the form. This page uses the {NAME} marker to include the value of the user's name.

Example 13-2. HTML template for thank you page
<html>   <head>     <title>Thank You</title>   </head>      <body>     <p><font face="helvetica,arial">Thank you for filling out the form,        {NAME}.</font></p>   </body> </html>

Now we need a script that can process these template pages, filling in the appropriate information for the various markers. Example 13-3 shows the PHP script that uses these templates (one for before the user has given us information and one for after). The PHP code uses the FillTemplate( ) function to join our values and the template files.

Example 13-3. Template script
$bindings['DESTINATION'] = $PHP_SELF;    $name = $_GET['name'];    if (!empty($name)) {   // do something with the supplied values   $template = "thankyou.template";   $bindings['NAME'] = $name; } else {   $template = "user.template"; }    echo FillTemplate($template, $bindings);

Example 13-4 shows the FillTemplate( ) function used by the script in Example 13-3. The function takes a template filename (to be located in the document root in a directory called templates), an array of values, and an optional instruction denoting what to do if a marker is found for which no value is given. The possible values are: "delete", which deletes the marker; "comment", which replaces the marker with a comment noting that the value is missing; or anything else, which just leaves the marker alone.

Example 13-4. The FillTemplate( ) function
function FillTemplate($inName, $inValues = array(  ),                       $inUnhandled = "delete") {   $theTemplateFile = $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT'] . '/templates/' . $inName;   if ($theFile = fopen($theTemplateFile, 'r')) {     $theTemplate = fread($theFile, filesize($theTemplateFile));     fclose($theFile);   }      $theKeys = array_keys($inValues);   foreach ($theKeys as $theKey) {     // look for and replace the key everywhere it occurs in the template     $theTemplate = str_replace("\{$theKey}", $inValues[$theKey],                                $theTemplate);   }      if ('delete' == $inUnhandled ) {     // remove remaining keys     $theTemplate = eregi_replace('{[^ }]*}', '', $theTemplate);   } elseif ('comment' == $inUnhandled ) {     // comment remaining keys     $theTemplate = eregi_replace('{([^ }]*)}', '<!-- \\1 undefined -->',                                  $theTemplate);   }      return $theTemplate; }

Clearly, this example of a templating system is somewhat contrived. But if you think of a large PHP application that displays hundreds of news articles, you can imagine how a templating system that used markers such as {HEADLINE}, {BYLINE}, and {ARTICLE} might be useful, as it would allow designers to create the layout for article pages without needing to worry about the actual content.

While templates may reduce the amount of PHP code that designers have to see, there is a performance trade-off, as every request incurs the cost of building a page from the template. Performing pattern matches on every outgoing page can really slow down a popular site. Andrei Zmievski's Smarty is an efficient templating system that neatly side-steps this performance problem. Smarty turns the template into straight PHP code and caches it. Instead of doing the template replacement on every request, it does it only whenever the template file is changed. See http://www.phpinsider.com/php/code/Smarty/ for more information.

Programming PHP
Programming PHP
ISBN: 1565926102
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2007
Pages: 168

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