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A framework for allowing customizing templates

Project description



This package contains an infrastructure and API for the customization of templates. The only template languages supported by this system are “pure-push” languages which do not call into arbitrary Python code while executing. Examples of such languages are json-template (supported out of the box) and XSLT. The advantage of such languages is that they are reasonably secure to expose through-the-web customization without an elaborate security infrastructure.

Let’s go through the use cases that this system must support:

  • templates exist on the filesystem, and those are used by default.

  • templates can be customized.

  • this customization can be stored in another database (ZODB, filesystem, a relational database, etc); this is up to the person integrating hurry.custom.

  • update template automatically if it is changed in the database.

  • it is possible to retrieve the template source (for display in a UI or for later use within for instance a web-browser for client-side rendering).

  • support server-side rendering of templates (producing HTML or an email message or whatever). Input is particular to template language (but should be considered immutable).

  • provide (static) input samples (such as JSON or XML files) to make it easier to edit and test templates. These input samples can be added both to the filesystem as well as to the database.

  • round-trip support. The customized templates and samples can be retrieved from the database and exported back to the filesystem. This is useful when templates need to be taken back under version control after a period of customization by end users.

The package is agnostic about (these things are pluggable):

  • the database used for storing customizations of templates or their samples.

  • the particular push-only template language used.

What this package does not do is provide a user interface. It only provides the API that lets you construct such user interfaces.

Registering a template language

In order to register a new push-only template we need to provide a factory that takes the template text (which could be compiled down further). Instantiating the factory should result in a callable that takes the input data (in whatever format is native to the template language). The ITemplate interface defines such an object:

>>> from hurry.custom.interfaces import ITemplate

For the purposes of demonstrating the functionality in this package, we supply a very simplistic push-only templating language, based on template strings as provided by the Python string module:

>>> import string
>>> from zope.interface import implements
>>> class StringTemplate(object):
...    implements(ITemplate)
...    def __init__(self, text):
...        self.source = text
...        self.template = string.Template(text)
...    def __call__(self, input):
...        return self.template.substitute(input)

Let’s demonstrate it. To render the template, simply call it with the data as an argument:

>>> template = StringTemplate('Hello $thing')
>>> template({'thing': 'world'})
'Hello world'

The template class defines a template language. Let’s register the template language so the system is aware of it and treats .st files on the filesystem as a string template:

>>> from hurry import custom
>>> custom.register_language(StringTemplate, extension='.st')

Loading a template from the filesystem

hurry.custom assumes that any templates that can be customized reside on the filesystem primarily and are shipped along with an application’s source code. They form collections. A collection is simply a directory (with possible sub-directories) that contains templates.

Let’s create a collection of templates on the filesystem:

>>> import tempfile, os
>>> templates_path = tempfile.mkdtemp(prefix='hurry.custom')

We create a single template, for now:

>>> test1_path = os.path.join(templates_path, '')
>>> f = open(test1_path, 'w')
>>> f.write('Hello $thing')
>>> f.close()

In order for the system to work, we need to register this collection of templates on the filesystem. We need to supply a globally unique collection id, the templates path, and (optionally) a title:

>>> custom.register_collection(id='templates', path=templates_path)

We can now look up the template in this collection:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', '')

We got our proper template:

>>> template.source
u'Hello $thing'

As we can see the source text of the template was interpreted as a UTF-8 string. The template source should always be in unicode format (or in plain ASCII).

>>> template({'thing': 'world'})
u'Hello world'

The underlying template will not be reloaded unless it is changed on the filesystem:

>>> orig = template.template

When we trigger a potential reload nothing happens - the template did not change on the filesystem:

>>> template.source
u'Hello $thing'
>>> template.template is orig

It will however automatically reload the template when it has changed on the filesystem. We will demonstrate that by modifying the file:

>>> f = open(test1_path, 'w')
>>> f.write('Bye $thing')
>>> f.close()

Unfortunately this won’t work in the tests as the modification time of files has a second-granularity on some platforms, way too long to delay the tests for. We will therefore manually update the last updated time as a hack:

>>> template._last_updated -= 1

Now the template will have changed:

>>> template.source
u'Bye $thing'

>>> template({'thing': 'world'})
u'Bye world'

Customization database

So far all our work was done in the root (filesystem) database. We can get it now:

>>> from zope import component
>>> from hurry.custom.interfaces import ITemplateDatabase
>>> root_db = component.getUtility(ITemplateDatabase, name='templates')

Let’s now register a customization database for our collection, in a particular site. This means in such a site, the new customized template database will be used (with a fallback on the original one if no customization can be found).

Let’s create a site first:

>>> site1 = DummySite(id=1)

We register a customization database for our collection named templates. For the purposes of testing we will use an in-memory database:

>>> mem_db = custom.InMemoryTemplateDatabase('templates', 'Templates')
>>> sm1 = site1.getSiteManager()
>>> sm1.registerUtility(mem_db, provided=ITemplateDatabase,
...   name='templates')

We go into this site:

>>> setSite(site1)

We haven’t placed any customization in the customization database yet, so we’ll see the same thing as before when we look up the template:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', '')
>>> template({'thing': "universe"})
u'Bye universe'

Customization of a template

Now that we have a locally set up customization database, we can customize the template.

In this customization we change ‘Bye’ to ‘Goodbye’:

>>> source = template.source
>>> source = source.replace('Bye', 'Goodbye')

We now need to update the database so that it has this customized version of the template. We do this by calling the update method on the database with the template id and the new source.

This update operation is not supported on the default filesystem database:

>>> root_db.update('', source)
Traceback (most recent call last):
NotSupported: Cannot update templates in FilesystemTemplateDatabase.

It is supported on the site-local in-memory database we’ve just installed though:

>>> mem_db.update('', source)

All you need to do to hook in your own database is to implement the ITemplateDatabase interface and register it (either globally or locally in a site).

Let’s see whether we get the customized template now:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', '')
>>> template({'thing': 'planet'})
u'Goodbye planet'

It is sometimes useful to be able to retrieve the original version of the template, before customization:

>>> template.original_source
u'Bye $thing'

This could be used to implement a “revert” functionality in a customization UI, for instance.

Checking which template languages are recognized

We can check which template languages are recognized:

>>> languages = custom.recognized_languages()
>>> sorted(languages)
[(u'.st', <class 'StringTemplate'>)]

When we register another language:

>>> class StringTemplate2(StringTemplate):
...   pass
>>> custom.register_language(StringTemplate2, extension='.st2')

It will show up too:

>>> languages = custom.recognized_languages()
>>> sorted(languages)
[(u'.st', <class 'StringTemplate'>), (u'.st2', <class 'StringTemplate2'>)]

Retrieving which templates can be customized

For the filesystem-level templates it is possible to get a data structure that indicates which templates can be customized. This is useful when constructing a UI. This data structure is designed to be easily useful as JSON so that a client-side UI can be constructed.

Let’s retrieve the customization database for our collection:

>>> l = custom.structure('templates')
>>> from pprint import pprint
>>> pprint(l)
[{'extension': '.st',
  'name': 'test1',
  'path': '',
  'template': ''}]


In a customization user interface it is useful to be able to test the template. Sometimes this can be done with live data coming from the software, but in other cases it is more convenient to try it on some representative sample data. This sample data needs to be in the format as expected as the argument when calling the template.

Just like a template language is stored as plain text on the filesystem, sample data can also be stored as plain text on the file system. The format of this plain text is its data language. Examples of data languages are JSON and XML.

For the purposes of demonstration, we’ll define a simle data language that can turn into a dictionary a data file with key value pairs like this:

>>> data = """\
... a: b
... c: d
... e: f
... """

Now we define a function that can parse this data into a dictionary:

>>> def parse_dict_data(data):
...    result = {}
...    for line in data.splitlines():
...        key, value = line.split(':')
...        key = key.strip()
...        value = value.strip()
...        result[key] = value
...    return result
>>> d = parse_dict_data(data)
>>> sorted(d.items())
[('a', 'b'), ('c', 'd'), ('e', 'f')]

The idea is that we can ask a particular template for those sample inputs that are available for it. Let’s for instance check for sample inputs available for

>>> template.samples()

There’s nothing yet.

In order to get samples to work, we first need to register the data language:

>>> custom.register_data_language(parse_dict_data, '.d')

Files with the extension .d can now be recognized as containing sample data.

We still need to tell the system that StringTemplate templates in particular can be expected to find sample data with this extension. In order to express this, we need to register the StringTemplate language again with an extra argument that indicates this (sample_extension):

>>> custom.register_language(StringTemplate,
...    extension='.st', sample_extension='.d')

Now we can actually look for samples. Of course there still aren’t any as we haven’t created any .d files yet:

>>> template.samples()

We need a pattern to associate a sample data file with a template file. The convention used is that a sample data file is in the same directory as the template file, and starts with the name of the template followed by a dash (-). Following the dash should be the name of the sample itself. Finally, the extension should be the sample extension. Here we create a sample file for the template:

>>> test1_path = os.path.join(templates_path, 'test1-sample1.d')
>>> f = open(test1_path, 'w')
>>> f.write('thing: galaxy')
>>> f.close()

Now when we ask for the samples available for our test1 template, we should see sample1:

>>> r = template.samples()
>>> r
{'sample1': {'thing': 'galaxy'}}

By definition, we can use the sample data for a template and pass it to the template itself:

>>> template(r['sample1'])
u'Goodbye galaxy'

Error handling

Let’s try to look up a template in a collection that doesn’t exist. We get a message that the template database could not be found:

>>> custom.lookup('nonexistent', '')
Traceback (most recent call last):
ComponentLookupError: (<InterfaceClass hurry.custom.interfaces.ITemplateDatabase>, 'nonexistent')

Let’s look up a non-existent template in an existing database. We get the lookup error of the deepest database, which is assumed to be the filesystem:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', '')
Traceback (most recent call last):
IOError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '.../'

Let’s look up a template with an unrecognized extension:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', 'dummy.unrecognized')
Traceback (most recent call last):
IOError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '.../dummy.unrecognized'

This of course happens because dummy.unrecognized doesn’t exist. Let’s make it exist:

>>> unrecognized = os.path.join(templates_path, 'dummy.unrecognized')
>>> f = open(unrecognized, 'w')
>>> f.write('Some weird template language')
>>> f.close()

Now let’s look at it again:

>>> template = custom.lookup('templates', 'dummy.unrecognized')
Traceback (most recent call last):
ComponentLookupError: (<InterfaceClass hurry.custom.interfaces.ITemplate>, '.unrecognized')


0.5 (2009-05-22)

  • Initial public release.


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