SimpleTemplate Engine

Bottle comes with a fast, powerful and easy to learn built-in template engine called SimpleTemplate or stpl for short. It is the default engine used by the view() and template() helpers but can be used as a stand-alone general purpose template engine too. This document explains the template syntax and shows examples for common use cases.

Basic API Usage:

SimpleTemplate implements the BaseTemplate API:

>>> from bottle import SimpleTemplate
>>> tpl = SimpleTemplate('Hello {{name}}!')
>>> tpl.render(name='World')
u'Hello World!'

In this document we use the template() helper in examples for the sake of simplicity:

>>> from bottle import template
>>> template('Hello {{name}}!', name='World')
u'Hello World!'

Just keep in mind that compiling and rendering templates are two different actions, even if the template() helper hides this fact. Templates are usually compiled only once and cached internally, but rendered many times with different keyword arguments.

SimpleTemplate Syntax

Python is a very powerful language but its whitespace-aware syntax makes it difficult to use as a template language. SimpleTemplate removes some of these restrictions and allows you to write clean, readable and maintainable templates while preserving full access to the features, libraries and speed of the Python language.


The SimpleTemplate syntax compiles directly to python bytecode and is executed on each SimpleTemplate.render() call. Do not render untrusted templates! They may contain and execute harmful python code.

Inline Statements

You already learned the use of the {{...}} statement from the “Hello World!” example above, but there is more: any python statement is allowed within the curly brackets as long as it returns a string or something that has a string representation:

>>> template('Hello {{name}}!', name='World')
u'Hello World!'
>>> template('Hello {{name.title() if name else "stranger"}}!', name=None)
u'Hello stranger!'
>>> template('Hello {{name.title() if name else "stranger"}}!', name='mArC')
u'Hello Marc!'

The contained python statement is executed at render-time and has access to all keyword arguments passed to the SimpleTemplate.render() method. HTML special characters are escaped automatically to prevent XSS attacks. You can start the statement with an exclamation mark to disable escaping for that statement:

>>> template('Hello {{name}}!', name='<b>World</b>')
u'Hello &lt;b&gt;World&lt;/b&gt;!'
>>> template('Hello {{!name}}!', name='<b>World</b>')
u'Hello <b>World</b>!'

Embedded python code

The % character marks a line of python code. The only difference between this and real python code is that you have to explicitly close blocks with an %end statement. In return you can align the code with the surrounding template and don’t have to worry about correct indentation of blocks. The SimpleTemplate parser handles that for you. Lines not starting with a % are rendered as text as usual:

%if name:
  Hi <b>{{name}}</b>
  <i>Hello stranger</i>

The % character is only recognised if it is the first non-whitespace character in a line. To escape a leading % you can add a second one. %% is replaced by a single % in the resulting template:

This line contains a % but no python code.
%% This text-line starts with '%'
%%% This text-line starts with '%%'

Suppressing line breaks

You can suppress the line break in front of a code-line by adding a double backslash at the end of the line:

%if True:

This template produces the following output:


The %include Statement

You can include other templates using the %include sub_template [kwargs] statement. The sub_template parameter specifies the name or path of the template to be included. The rest of the line is interpreted as a comma-separated list of key=statement pairs similar to keyword arguments in function calls. They are passed to the sub-template analogous to a SimpleTemplate.render() call. The **kwargs syntax for passing a dict is allowed too:

%include header_template title='Hello World'
<p>Hello World</p>
%include footer_template

The %rebase Statement

The %rebase base_template [kwargs] statement causes base_template to be rendered instead of the original template. The base-template then includes the original template using an empty %include statement and has access to all variables specified by kwargs. This way it is possible to wrap a template with another template or to simulate the inheritance feature found in some other template engines.

Let’s say you have a content template and want to wrap it with a common HTML layout frame. Instead of including several header and footer templates, you can use a single base-template to render the layout frame.

Base-template named layout.tpl:

  <title>{{title or 'No title'}}</title>

Main-template named content.tpl:

This is the page content: {{content}}
%rebase layout title='Content Title'

Now you can render content.tpl:

>>> print template('content', content='Hello World!')
  <title>Content Title</title>
  This is the page content: Hello World!

A more complex scenario involves chained rebases and multiple content blocks. The block_content.tpl template defines two functions and passes them to a columns.tpl base template:

%def leftblock():
  Left block content.
%def rightblock():
  Right block content.
%rebase columns leftblock=leftblock, rightblock=rightblock, title=title

The columns.tpl base-template uses the two callables to render the content of the left and right column. It then wraps itself with the layout.tpl template defined earlier:

%rebase layout title=title
<div style="width: 50%; float:left">
<div style="width: 50%; float:right">

Lets see how block_content.tpl renders:

>>> print template('block_content', title='Hello World!')
  <title>Hello World</title>
<div style="width: 50%; float:left">
  Left block content.
<div style="width: 50%; float:right">
  Right block content.

Namespace Functions

Accessing undefined variables in a template raises NameError and stops rendering immediately. This is standard python behavior and nothing new, but vanilla python lacks an easy way to check the availability of a variable. This quickly gets annoying if you want to support flexible inputs or use the same template in different situations. SimpleTemplate helps you out here: The following three functions are defined in the default namespace and accessible from anywhere within a template:


Return True if the variable is defined in the current template namespace, False otherwise.

get(name, default=None)

Return the variable, or a default value.

setdefault(name, default)

If the variable is not defined, create it with the given default value. Return the variable.

Here is an example that uses all three functions to implement optional template variables in different ways:

% setdefault('text', 'No Text')
<h1>{{get('title', 'No Title')}}</h1>
<p> {{ text }} </p>
% if defined('author'):
  <p>By {{ author }}</p>
% end

SimpleTemplate API

class SimpleTemplate(source=None, name=None, lookup=[], encoding='utf8', **settings)[source]
prepare(escape_func=<function html_escape>, noescape=False, **kwargs)[source]

Run preparations (parsing, caching, …). It should be possible to call this again to refresh a template or to update settings.

classmethod split_comment(code)[source]

Removes comments (#…) from python code.

render(*args, **kwargs)[source]

Render the template using keyword arguments as local variables.

Known bugs

Some syntax constructions allowed in python are problematic within a template. The following syntaxes won’t work with SimpleTemplate:

  • Multi-line statements must end with a backslash (\) and a comment, if present, must not contain any additional # characters.
  • Multi-line strings are not supported yet.