{$hello} or <?=$hello?>

Tagscript-style syntax vs. PHP syntax

Previous versions of ProcessWire, as well as the CMSs that preceded it (like Dictator CMS) used a tagging syntax where you could reference a value in your template using a tag like {$title}. Everywhere that appeared, it would be replaced by the page's title field. It went a lot further than that, but this is a simple example.

As time has gone on, I've come to question the value of this, as {$title} is equivalent to <?=$title?> in PHP syntax. In that case, the tagged version is slightly shorter, but at what cost? When you start to realize the redundancy and inefficiency of the tagged version, it starts to look a lot less attractive. Despite writing such template engines in the past, I always reverted back to PHP syntax for the direct simplicity, and efficiency of it. I didn't want to start down the road of creating a new syntax for people to learn. Especially when I knew I wouldn't use it myself. You don't need to know PHP in order to use its syntax in a template, and much of the PHP syntax you learn is universal and non-proprietary. Tagged syntax seems to be based largely upon a myth.

This becomes more significant as you start working with loops and branches, where the tagged syntax can become significantly more verbose. And then even more significant when you need to manipulate values before output, or work with more complex data types. What you end up with is something like the Smarty template engine... A new language to learn that is more complex than the language it was to replace (PHP).

In ProcessWire, I wanted to be sure that there was a high level of consistency, and lack of ambiguity in the API syntax. I didn't want to end up with a situation where sometimes you would use {$tags} and other times you would use PHP syntax. In my mind, that adds complexity and confusion. Add to that the overhead of another template engine, and I'm convinced that PHP itself is the best possible template engine. ProcessWire is designed with this in mind. That's not to say that we won't add some kind of tag-script for simple shortcuts in the future, but the template engine will always be PHP based.

Twitter updates

  • Quick weekly update covering this week's commits for the upcoming 3.0.167 ProcessWire core version— More
    18 September 2020
  • This week ProcessWire version 3.0.166 is released on the dev branch. In this post we’ll cover all that’s new relative to the previous version, 3.0.165. Plus we’ll check out the latest new versions of ProCache and FormBuilder— More
    11 September 2020
  • Weekly update – 28 August 2020 – New secure files option defined per-template: More
    28 August 2020

Latest news

  • ProcessWire Weekly #333
    In the 333rd issue of ProcessWire Weekly we'll check out what's new in the latest dev version of ProcessWire, 3.0.167, and more. Read on!
    Weekly.pw / 26 September 2020
  • ProcessWire 3.0.166 core updates and more
    This week ProcessWire version 3.0.166 is released on the dev branch. In this post we’ll cover all that’s new relative to the previous version, 3.0.165. Plus we’ll check out the latest new versions of ProCache and FormBuilder.
    Blog / 11 September 2020
  • Subscribe to weekly ProcessWire news

“…building with ProcessWire was a breeze, I really love all the flexibility the system provides. I can’t imagine using any other CMS in the future.” —Thomas Aull