Direct Output

The first strategy is the easiest to understand (though also likely the least flexible). But even if you don't intend to use this strategy, read on, as it does help to establish the context that template files operate in. When a template file is used as direct output, the only difference between a template file and an HTML file is that you can use some PHP in there when you want to. Here is an example of a template file using direct output:


    <title>Hello World</title>
    <h1>Hello World</h1>
    <p>How do you like my HTML document?</p>

There literally isn't any difference between that and a regular old HTML document. Lets go a little further and throw in some PHP so that the output of the <title> tag, <h1> tag and body copy are dynamic, coming from the $page being viewed:


    <title><?php echo $page->title; ?></title>
    <h1><?php echo $page->title; ?></h1>
    <?php echo $page->body; ?>

Simply by adding <?php echo $page->title; ?> where we want to output the page's title, and <?php echo $page->body; ?> where we want to output the page's body, are all that is necessary to have a template file that we could use for dynamic output of any page in our site. Note that you may also shorten that to just <?=$page->title?> and <?=$page->body?> if you prefer (and the same goes for the rest of this tutorial), but we will stick to the longer syntax since there are still a few (rare) web servers out there that may not support these PHP short open/close tags.

Getting back to the real world, it's not likely our site will only need one template (and template file). And chances are our document markup will consist of a lot more than what this simple example shows. That leads us nicely into our next template file strategy…

Next: Direct Output with Includes »

  1. Introduction
  2. Direct Output
  3. Direct Output with Includes
  4. Delayed Output
  5. More Strategies


  • Kristoffer

    Kristoffer 3 years ago 42

    If you are having trouble loading the $config->prependTemplateFile and $config->appendTemplateFile variables, make sure that your FTP user has write permissions to the ProcessWire Configuration File. When config.php is write protected ("chmod 444 config.php", or similar) on the FTP server, you may not notice that changes to config.php are not uploaded to the server.

  • Bernhard

    Bernhard 3 years ago 64

    really great tutorial! thank you ryan!

  • pwired

    pwired 3 years ago 52

    Thanks to the forum I arrived here after the release
    of pw-2.5.0. Pages 3, 4 and 5 explain very nice how
    header and have been evolved in pw-2.5.0

  • adrian

    adrian 2 years ago 32

    With the example shown on the above documentation, the output website page layout is fixed in $config->appendTemplateFile in config.php. If I have a page with a different layout, how to deal with it ?

    • ryan

      ryan 2 years ago 22

      There are any number of ways you could do it, but simplest would be just to go to your template settings (Setup > Templates > your-template > Files [tab]), and specify a different append/prepend file for that template.

  • James

    James 2 years ago 42

    Hi Ryan

    I am new to PW, having come from building many sites previously with Concrete5. With the Delayed Output approach, and the use of, does this not leave you with one file solely responsible for the structure of every page on the site? For example, what if I have a home page that is full width. I might also have some pages with sub nav, and hence the need for a sidebar. Maybe on my blog page I might want a three column approach with nav on one side and categories on the other.

    Is responsible for having to structure each of these pages? Or, would you approach this differently by having different versions of ie there might be a,, etc



    • ryan

      ryan 2 years ago 43

      James, the can be swapped out with whatever you want on a template-by-template basis (see my reply to Adrian below). However, the reality is that there's often going to be as much similar as there is different, regardless of layout. And you want to avoid repeating yourself. So you might choose to make your include different layout (.inc) files, or simply have something like if($sidebar) then output a sidebar column, etc. The default site profile has an example of this. Another way is to define a $layout variable (or whatever you want to call it) in your that indicates a default layout file. Then any of the template files can choose to change that. Then the file can take that $layout into account to render or include accordingly.

  • Alex

    Alex 2 months ago 10

    Suppose hat I have to create a set of new pages which uses a template(say template_2)different than the rest of the website. In my site/config, I have
    $config->prependTemplateFile = '_init.php';
    $config->appendTemplateFile = '_main.php';

    However, I do not want the sidebar and navigation I had defined in the main.php for the template_2. I want to have different footer,header and sidebar. Any suggestions how I can add an exception such that when I load template_2, I should not include the original _init.php and _main.php and should load from some _init2.php and _main2.php?

    • Pavel

      Pavel 4 weeks ago 00

      Hello Alex, look at this post.

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