=head1 NAME

Piffle::Template - Perlish templating language


    use Piffle::Template;
    use Piffle::Template qw{template_to_perl expand_template};

    # OO syntax, with output stored and returned:
    print Piffle::Template->expand(source_file => 'foo/fish.xml',
                                   include_path => ['foo/inc','foo']);

    # Immediate: OO syntax: output goes directly to STDOUT:
    Piffle::Template->expand(source_file => 'foo/fish.xml',
                             output_file => \*STDOUT);

    # Procedural syntax, data from a string
    $string = <<'__END__';
      <?perl for $world (1 .. 10) { ?>
       Hello world number {$world}.
      <?perl     print random_greeting(); ?>
      <?perl } ?>
      <?include std_disclaimer.txt?>
    expand_template(source => $string,
                    output_file => \*FILE);


This is a simple Perl-embedding syntax for template code which is geared
towards allowing authors to validate their templates directly against schemas
or DTDs. The embedded language is Perl itself, which allows great flexibility
at the expense of having to be disciplined about the barrier between template
code and module code.

In operation, the source template is transformed to an in-memory Perl script
which is then run using Perl's C<eval> operator. Errors can be redirected to
files or subroutines, and the output can be either caught in a variable or
written to a file or open filehandle.

=head2 expand_template

    # Generic syntax

    # -either-
    my $result = expand_template(source_file => '...');

    # -or-
    expand_template(include_path => [qw{/tmp/foo /usr/local/lib/foo}],
                    source_file => '/usr/local/lib/foo/foo.xml',
                    output_file => \*FH,
                    errors_to => sub {},
    # -or-
    expand_template(source => $long_string);

Expands a template stored somewhere, and writes the output somewhere else. The
generated script is executed in a uniquely-named package, without any enforced
C<use strict> preceding it. This call normally stores the I<print>ed output
from the template-script in a temporary scalar variable, and returns this
scalar. You can redirect the output somewhere else though.

With versions of Perl B<prior to 5.8>, you B<must redirect output> using the
C<output_file> option. Your program will fail ungracefully if you don't. This
is because the internal store-and-return mechanism relies on the ability to
open a filehandle to a scalar ref, which was introduced with Perl 5.8.

The options are:

=over 4

=item source

A string containing the template to convert to Perl code and run. Either this
or C<source_file> must be specified.

=item source_file

A source file containing the template to execute. This can be either a string
containing the name of a file, or an open filehandle passed by reference.

=item output_file

Redirects output to a specific file. Like C<source_file>, this may be either a
filename or a filehandle.

=item errors_to

Defines how errors raised by the template code are handled. This can be either
a subroutine (which will be called with C<$@> as its single argument), or a
filehandle (to which the error message will be printed). The default is to
propagate them back via C<die>.

=item include_path

An array containing a number of directories to search when processing
the C<E<lt>?include...?E<gt>> directive.

=item reported_filename

Overrides the filename associated with error messages.


=head2 expand


Identical arguments, and return values to C<expand_template()>, but
with object-oriented syntax.

=head2 template_to_perl

    my $perl = template_to_perl($template_txt, $filename, @inc);

This is what C<expand()> and C<expand_template()> use to generate the
Perl script that gets C<eval()>ed. Useful for debugging. By the way,
C<E<lt>?include?E<gt>> is processed in this pass.

=head1 The Templating Language

There are only three constructs to worry about, the rest is just Perl, and the
language you're embedding it in.

=head2 <?perl...?>

      <?perl  print $polite_greeting;  ?>
    <!-- You'll have to do your own escaping here. -->

      <?perl for (1 .. 10) { ?>
      <?perl } ?>

The tokens C<E<lt>?perl> and the immediately following C<?E<gt>> denote a
fragment of embedded Perl. Any calls to C<print> go to the currently
C<select>ed output.  The syntax is supposed to look like an XML processing
instruction. If you use it where an XML PI could be used, your document should

=head2 <?include...?>

    <?include sidebars/easter_bunny.pl.html ?>

This is a simple textual inclusion. The named file is searched for in the
include paths passed to C<template_to_perl()>, and is opened, transformed
to a Perl script, and included into the Perl script being generated.

If the file doesn't exist, you get a warning about the problem; your template
code doesn't fail before compilation if an inclusion can't be found. This is
the right behaviour for template code; if you want to import vital constants
and subroutines, you should be using C<use> or C<require> instead, and writing
a proper Perl module.

Textual inclusions happen before compilation, i.e. when C<template_to_perl()>
is called.

=head2 {$varname} etc.



     <a title="{$title}" href="foo.cgi?t={$title,uri}&amp;p=1">

Variables with simple names (C</^[\$\@\%]\w+$/>)can be interpolated into plain
text by writing their names inside curly brackets. The resulting code contains
a C<print> statement wrapped around something which escapes the contents of the

You can optionally use a nonstandard character escaping style by appending a
comma after the variable name, followed by the name of an escaping style. the
escaping styles are:

=over 4

=item xml

    {$varname}		;; typical
    {$varname,xml}	;; canonical

This is the default, and is also what you'll get if the escaping style you use
isn't known. Characters in the set [C<&E<lt>E<gt>"'>] are turned into decimal
XML character references suitable for all XML dialects and hopefully all

=item uri


Bytes (not characters) which aren't safe for use as an unparsed token in a URI
are escaped into their hexadecimal representation. It's pretty much what
C<CGI::escape()> does.

=item raw


Interpolates a variable without doing any escaping on its value whatsoever.
Make sure you know what you're doing before trying this.


The syntax for variable interpolation is intended to look something like the
way Expressions can be interpolated into attributes in XSLT. The default escape
style was chosen because in most template CGI template work, I've tended to use
this style most often.

Character escaping styles are intended to be extensible by module users. They
just aren't yet.

=head1 Order of Execution

When your wrapper script calls:

    Piffle::Template->expand(source_file => 'foo/bar.pl.html',
                             output_file => \*STDOUT);

The file C<foo/bar.pl.html> is slurped in, and transformed to a Perl script
using C<template_to_perl()>. The resulting script is studded with C<#line>
directives, so errors will be reported from the right place. Any textual
inclusions happen at this point too.

The script is then run using Perl's eval-string operator. Despite the fact that
the data came from an external file, this operation is considered taint-safe
due to the way the template language parse works. Do not use this module if
there are doubts about whether the Perl code in your template files is

Any C<print> statement in the template code, or in library code called from it,
is sent to STDOUT.

=head1 Worked Examples, Tricks and Tips

=head2 Database Table Splats

This charming term comes from my workplace, and describes dumping the results
of a SQL query into an HTML table for display and viewing. A common approach to
doing this in a Perlish templating language is:

        while (my ($id,$name,$colour,$partnum) = each_part($manuf))
        }  #each_part

The corresponding definition of C<each_part()> follows. It has to do a little
state management so that it can behave a little like Perl's builtin C<each>

    use DBI;
    our $dbh = DBI->connect('some_dsn', 'user', 'secret') or die;
    our $each_part_sth;

    sub each_part
            my $manuf = shift;
            if (! defined $each_part_sth)
                    $each_part_sth = $dbh->prepare(q{
                            SELECT p.id,p.name,s.colour,s.partnum
                              FROM  Parts p, Styles s
                             WHERE p.id = s.part
                               AND p.manufacturer = ?
            my @ret = $each_part_sth->fetchrow_array;
            unless (@ret)
                    undef $each_part_sth;

=head2 Optional Attributes

Consider the HTML C<select> box:

    <select name="colour" multiple="multiple">
      <option value="r" selected="selected">Red</option>
      <option value="g">Green</option>
      <option value="b">Blue</option>

The C<option> elements may or may not be selected. Sometimes you want to make
template code that prints the above multiselect using information about the
selection state from a database. Unfortunately, you can't just write

    XXX Incorrect Code XXX
    <option value="{$col_s}" {$is_sel}>{$col_l}</option>
    XXX Incorrect Code XXX

because your template wouldn't validate. The fix is to use the following messy

    <select name="colour" multiple="multiple">
        my $sel_hack_on = '" selected="selected';
        while (my ($col_s, $is_sel, $col_l) = each_col())
             my $sel_hack = $is_sel ? $sel_hack_on : '';
      <option value="{$col_s}{$sel_hack}">{$col_l}</option>
        }  #each_col

It's ugly, but it works.

=head2 Messing with Execution Order

Special blocks such as C<BEGIN> and C<END> can be used to change the order in
which output is generated, which is useful for generating HTTP headers in your
code while retaining good XML syntax:

   <?xml version="1.0"?>
       # All of the above turns into prints. But we want the header to be
       # printed before that.
       use CGI;
       BEGIN {
               # ... do something with the POSTdata ...
               print CGI->header(-type => 'application/xml',
                                 -charset => 'UTF/8',
                                 -status => "201 Created");
     <bar name="Cheers" location="East West 13th St, NY, USA" />
     <pub name="Eagle &amp; Child" location="Oxford, Oxon, UK" />

You can't put a lump of Perl before an XML declaration because that would break
XML's syntax. Sticking the header print inside a C<BEGIN> block causes the HTTP
header to be emitted in a place that keeps web servers happy.  C<END> is
slightly less useful than C<BEGIN>, but could be used to clean up resources
after you've finished executing. If you try to use C<INIT> or C<CHECK>, you'll
get an error looking like:

    Too late to run INIT block at DATA line 5, <DATA> line 1.

This is because the Perl runtime has already started up, and you can't catch
the transition between the compilation phase(s) and normal execution. See
L<perlmod/BEGIN, CHECK, INIT and END> for more on this.

=head1 Similar Modules and Related Software

You may wish to consider a number of other modules which do a similar thing to
C<Piffle::Template>. They're almost certainly far better.

=over 4

=item L<Text::Template|Text::Template> - Mark-Jason Dominus

Good and simple, with more support than this thing. Perl code can be written
between curly brackets: '{' and '}'. Each pair of brackets corresponds to an
C<eval"">, and the resulting value of the block gets interpolated into the
output, raw. Loops are done inside the brackets, and if you want each pass to
generate output, you have to concatenate onto a variable. The delimiter syntax
can be varied from the default.

=item L<Embperl|Embperl> - G. Richter

Uses a rather complicated syntax for its embedding glue, and features a
pluggable framework, but does essentially the same thing as
C<Piffle::Template>. Automatically HTML-escapes its interpolations.

=item C<ePerl> - Ralf S. Engelschall

A perl-in-plaintext dialect similar to C<Embperl> and C<Piffle::Template> which
comes with its own Perl interpreter and an Apache plugin. Allows shorthand for
interpolation. Bound to be much faster than my effort, at the expense of some
extra weight and dependencies.

=item C<mmm-mode>

This is an Emacs mode for writing blocks of one language inside another
language, using delimiters to separate the two. It can be used with any of the
above, and features delimiter definitions for some of them. 


=head1 BUGS

The embedding syntax cannot be changed, and it's somewhat monopurpose in
intent: write Perl in XML, but make it validate.

You need to escape the embedding tokens to stop C<Piffle::Template> from
choking on them.

Error reports can catch some very strange code when the generated script is
syntactically invalid, mostly around interpolations with escapes. You have to
know what you're doing in order to debug this sometimes, despite the C<#line>
directives. Experiment with C<template_to_perl()> to see the kinds of
horrors that get generated.

However, if you think this wheel is rounder than others out there, please tell
me. I might make it into a more formal release. However, there are plenty of
wheels out there to choose from. I think this one has the nicest syntax,

=head1 AUTHOR

Andrew Chadwick, <andrewc-ptemplate200402@piffle.org>.

This software may be distributed under the same terms as Perl itself.