The London Perl and Raku Workshop takes place on 26th Oct 2024. If your company depends on Perl, please consider sponsoring and/or attending.


 Text::ScriptTemplate - Standalone ASP/JSP/PHP-style template processor


 use Text::ScriptTemplate;

 $text = <<'EOF';            # PHP/JSP/ASP-style template
 <% for (1..3) { %>          # - any Perl expression is supported
 Message is: <%= $TEXT %>.   # - also supports variable expansion
 <% } %>

 $tmpl = new Text::ScriptTemplate;    # create processor object
 $tmpl->setq(TEXT => "hello, world"); # export data to template

 # load, fill, and print expanded result in single action
 print $tmpl->pack($text)->fill;


This is a successor of Text::SimpleTemplate, a module for template- based text generation.

Template-based text generation is a way to separate program code and data, so non-programmer can control final result (like HTML) as desired without tweaking the program code itself. By doing so, jobs like website maintenance is much easier because you can leave program code unchanged even if page redesign was needed.

The idea of this module is simple. Whenever a block of text surrounded by '<%' and '%>' (or any pair of delimiters you specify) is found, it will be taken as Perl expression, and will be handled specially by template processing engine. With this module, Perl script and text can be intermixed closely.

Major goal of this library is to provide support of powerful PHP-style template with smaller resource. This is useful when PHP, Java/JSP, or Apache::ASP is overkill, but their template style is still desired.


No other module is needed to use this module. All you need is perl itself.

For installation, standard procedure of

    perl Makefile.PL
    make test
    make install

should work just fine.


Any block surrounded by '<%=' and '%>' will be replaced with its evaluated result. So,

  <%= $message %>

will expand to "hello" if $message variable contains "hello" at the time of evaluation (when "fill" method is called).

For block surrounded by '<%' and '%>, it will be taken as a part of control structure. After all parts are merged into one big script, it get evaluated and its result will become expanded result. This means,

  <% for my $i (1..3) { %>
  i = <%= %i %>
  <% } %>

will generate

  i = 1
  i = 2
  i = 3

as a resulting output.

Now, let's continue with more practical example. Suppose you have a following template named "sample.tmpl":

    === Module Information ===
    <% if ($HAS->{Text::ScriptTemplate}) { %>
    Name: <%= $INFO->{Name}; %>
    Description: <%= $INFO->{Description}; %>
    Author: <%= $INFO->{Author}; %> <<%= $INFO->{Email}; %>>
    <% } else { %>
    Text::ScriptTemplate is not installed.
    <% } %>

With the following script...


    use Safe;
    use Text::ScriptTemplate;

    $tmpl = new Text::ScriptTemplate;
    $tmpl->setq(INFO => {
        Name        => "Text::ScriptTemplate",
        Description => "Lightweight processor for full-featured template",
        Author      => "Taisuke Yamada",
        Email       => "tyamadajp\",
    $tmpl->setq(HAS => { Text::ScriptTemplate => 1 }); # installed

    print $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => new Safe); will get following result:

    === Module Information ===

    Name: Text::ScriptTemplate
    Description: Lightweight processor for full-featured template
    Author: Taisuke Yamada <>

If you change

    $tmpl->setq(HAS => { Text::ScriptTemplate => 1 }); # installed


    $tmpl->setq(HAS => { Text::ScriptTemplate => 0 }); # not installed

, then you will get

    === Module Information ===

    Text::ScriptTemplate is not installed.

You can embed any control structure as long as intermixed text block is surround by set of braces. This means

    hello world<% if ($firsttime); %>

must be written as

    <% do { %>hello world<% } if ($firsttime); %>

to ensure surrounding block. If you want to know more on this internal, please read TEMPLATE INTERNAL section for the detail.

Also, as you might have noticed, any scalar data can be exported to template namespace, even hash reference or code reference.

Finally, although I had used "Safe" module in example above, this is not a requirement. Either of

    print $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => new Safe);
    print $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => new MyPackage);
    print $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => 'MyOtherPackage');
    print $tmpl->fill; # uses calling context as package namespace

will work. However, if you want to limit priviledge of program logic embedded in template, using Safe module as sandbox is recommended.


Currently, only reserved name pattern is the one starting with "_" (underscore).

Since template can be evaluated in separate namespace using PACKAGE option (see "fill" method), this module does not have much restriction on variable or function name you define in theory. However, if you choose existing module namespace as evaluating namespace, there could be some other predefined names that may interfere with the symbols you have exported.

Also, if you don't specify PACKAGE option, namespace of calling context is used as default namespace. This means all defined functions and variables in calling script are visible from template, even if they weren't exported by "setq" method.


Following methods are currently available.

$tmpl = new Text::ScriptTemplate;

Constructor. Returns newly created object.

If this method was called through existing object, cloned object will be returned. This cloned instance inherits all properties except for internal buffer which holds template data. Cloning is useful for chained template processing.

$tmpl->setq($name => $data, $name => $data, ...);

Exports scalar data ($data) to template namespace, with $name as a scalar variable name to be used in template. You can repeat the pair to export multiple sets in one operation.

Returns object reference to itself.

$tmpl->load($file, %opts);

Loads template file ($file) for later evaluation. File can be specified in either form of pathname or fileglob.

This method accepts DELIM option, used to specify delimiter for parsing template. It is speficied by passing reference to array containing delimiter pair, just like below:

    $tmpl->load($file, DELIM => [qw(<? ?>)]);

Returns object reference to itself.

$tmpl->pack($data, %opts);

Loads in-memory data ($data) for later evaluation. Except for this difference, works just like $tmpl->load.

$text = $tmpl->fill(%opts);

Returns evaluated result of template, which was preloaded by either $tmpl->pack or $tmpl->load method.

This method accepts two options: PACKAGE and OHANDLE.

PACKAGE option specifies the namespace where template evaluation takes place. You can either pass the name of the package, or the package object itself. So either of

    $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => new Safe);
    $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => new Some::Module);
    $tmpl->fill(PACKAGE => 'Some::Package');
    $tmpl->fill; # uses calling context as evaluating namespace

works. In case Safe module (or its subclass) was passed, its "reval" method will be used instead of built-in eval.

OHANDLE option is for output selection. By default, this method returns the result of evaluation, but with OHANDLE option set, you can instead make it print to given handle. Either style of

    $tmpl->fill(OHANDLE => \*STDOUT);
    $tmpl->fill(OHANDLE => new FileHandle(...));

is supported.

$text = $tmpl->include($file, \%vars, @args);

This is a shortcut of doing

  $text = $tmpl->new->load($file)->setq(%vars)->fill(@args);

Why a shortcut? Because this will allow you to write

  <%= $tmpl->include("subtemplate.tmpl") %>

which is much (visually) cleaner way to include other template fragment in current template.

Note: you need to export instance as $tmpl beforehand in above example.


Internally, template processor converts template into one big perl script, and then simply executes it. Conversion rule is fairly simple - If you have following template,

    <% if ($bool) { %>
    hello, <%= $name; %>
    <% } %>

it will be converted into

    if ($bool) {
    hello, });
        $_handle->(do{ $name; });

Note line breaks are preserved. After all conversion is done, it will be executed. And depending on existance of OHANDLE option, $_handle (this is a code reference to predefined function) will either print or buffer its argument.


Nested template delimiter will cause this module to fail. In another word, don't do something like

  <%= "<%=" %>

as it'll fail template parsing engine.


Safe and Text::SimpleTemplate


Please send any bug reports/comments to <>.

NOTE: You need to replace "spam" to "list" in above email address before sending.


 - Taisuke Yamada <>


Copyright 2001-2004. All rights reserved.

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.