In a well-designed Model-View-Controller web application, most of the code and the development time will be in the model layer (which contains the business logic). The other two layers are meant to be as re-usable as possible. Earlier this year I discussed how to build a reusable controller for Mojolicious and how to build an inheritable controller to increase code re-use. Now, I'd like to talk about how the Mojolicious web framework provides ways to reuse, combine, and compose the view code: the stash, includes, layout templates, and named content blocks.

This week, I'll talk about how to make reusable, configurable, composable templates.

Configuration with the Stash

The stash is generally used to provide data for the templates to render, but it can also be used to configure templates. If I have to render a bunch of arrays of hashes in tables, I can make one template to do it. This template could have additional configuration for which keys to display in which order and whether or not to show column headers, like so:

@@ table.html.ep
%# By default, show all the keys in the hash (by getting the keys of the
%# first item)
% my $properties = stash()->{properties} || [ sort keys %{ $items->[0] } ];
%# Show the table heading by default, but allow disabling
% my $thead = exists stash()->{thead} ? stash()->{thead} : 1;
%# Allow adding classes to the table
% my $class = stash('class') ? sprintf q{ class="%s"}, stash('class') : '';
<table<%= $class %>>
    % if ( $thead ) {
            % for my $key ( @$properties ) {
                <th><%= $key %></th>
            % }
    % }
        % for my $item ( @$items ) {
                <% for my $key ( @$properties ) { %>
                    <td><%= $item->{ $key } %></td>
                % }
        % }

Then I can configure my template from my route:

get '/events' => 'yancy#list',
    schema => 'event',
    template => 'table',
    properties => [qw( title start_date end_date )];

get '/articles' => 'yancy#list',
    schema => 'article',
    template => 'table',
    thead => 0;

When my template is rendered, it gets the current value of the thead stash. I could even override that stash value in my route handler, so I can enable/disable parts of the template based on the user's preferences:

get '/articles' => sub {
    my ( $c ) = @_;
    # Send ?show_header=1 to show the table header
    if ( $c->param( 'show_header' ) ) {
        $c->stash( thead => 1 );
    return $c->render( 'table' );


Any template can import another template. Like the calling template, the imported template has access to the entire request stash. But, I can also pass in additional stash values that are only seen by the imported template.

So, I could create a page that shows my most recent article as a big banner, and the rest of my articles as a table (using my table template from above):

@@ articles.html.ep
% my $latest = $items->[0];
<h1>Latest article: <%= $latest->{title} %></h1>
<p><%== $latest->{html} %></p>

<h1>Past Articles</h1>
%= include 'table' => items => [ @{$items}[ 1..$#$items ] ]

Then, when I use my articles template in my route, I can configure the table template's columns and header using the properties stash key (just like above).

get '/articles' => 'yancy#list',
    schema => 'article',
    template => 'table',
    properties => [qw( title published_date )],
    thead => 0;

With these techniques I can create one template that satisfies multiple uses! If I add CSS classes to my template configuration, I can even make each table look completely different using a little bit of CSS. The cost here is extra complexity in the templates: The templates become more like a subroutine in a program and less like annotated HTML, so you'll have to find the right balance for your application and your team.

Next week, I'll discuss named content blocks, layout templates, and template inheritance. Until then!

Image by Doug Bell. Brick background by Homero Chapa (, used under StockVault Non-Commercial license.

Tagged in : templates, rendering

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Doug Bell

Doug (preaction) is a long time Perl user. He is the current maintainer of CPAN Testers and the author of many CPAN modules including the Statocles blog engine that powers this site.