Edgewall Software

Using the Templating Plugin

While you can easily use Genshi templating through the APIs provided directly by Genshi, in some situations you may want to use Genshi through the template engine plugin API. Note though that this considerably limits the power and flexibility of Genshi templates (for example, there's no good way to use filters such as Genshi's HTMLFormFiller when the plugin API is sitting between your code and Genshi).

1   Introduction

Some Python web frameworks support a variety of different templating engines through the Template Engine Plugin API, which was first developed by the Buffet and TurboGears projects.

Genshi supports this API out of the box, so you can use it in frameworks like TurboGears or Pylons without installing any additional packages. A small example TurboGears application is included in the examples directory of source distributions of Genshi.

2   Usage

The way you use Genshi through the plugin API depends very much on the framework you're using. In general, the approach will look something like the following:

  1. Configure Genshi as the default (or an additional) template engine
  2. Optionally specify Genshi-specific configuration options
  3. For any given view or controller (or whatever those are called in your framework of choice), specify the name of the template to use and which data should be made available to it.

For point 1, you'll have to specify the name of the template engine plugin. For Genshi, this is "genshi". However, because Genshi supports both markup and text templates, it also provides two separate plugins, namely "genshi-markup" and "genshi-text" (the "genshi" name is just an alias for "genshi-markup").

Usually, you can choose a default template engine, but also use a different engine on a per-request basis. So to use markup templates in general, but a text template in a specific controller, you'd configure "genshi" as the default template engine, and specify "genshi-text" for the controllers that should use text templates. How exactly this works depends on the framework in use.

When rendering a specific template in a controller (point 3 above), you may also be able to pass additional options to the plugin. This includes the format keyword argument, which Genshi will use to override the configured default serialization method. In combination with specifying the "genshi-text" engine name as explained above, you would use this to specify the "text" serialization method when you want to use a text template. Or you'd specify "xml" for the format when you want to produce an Atom feed or other XML content.

2.1   Template Paths

How you specify template paths depends on whether you have a search path set up or not. The search path is a list of directories that Genshi should load templates from. Now when you request a template using a relative path such as mytmpl.html or foo/mytmpl.html, Genshi will look for that file in the directories on the search path.

For mostly historical reasons, the Genshi template engine plugin uses a different approach when you haven't configured the template search path: you now load templates using dotted notation, for example mytmpl or foo.mytmpl. Note how you've lost the ability to explicitly specify the file extension: you now have to use .html for markup templates, and .txt for text templates.

Using the search path is recommended for a number of reasons: First, it's the native Genshi model and is thus more robust and better supported. Second, a search path gives you much more flexibility for organizing your application templates. And as noted above, you aren't forced to use hardcoded filename extensions for your template files.

2.2   Extra Implicit Objects

The "genshi-markup" template engine plugin adds some extra functions that are made available to all templates implicitly, namely:

Parses the given string as HTML and returns a markup stream.
Parses the given string as XML and returns a markup stream.
Adapts the given ElementTree object to a markup stream.

The framework may make additional objects available by default. Consult the documentation of your framework for more information.

3   Configuration Options

The plugin API allows plugins to be configured using a dictionary of strings. The following is a list of configuration options that Genshi supports. These may or may not be made available by your framework. TurboGears 1.0, for example, only passes a fixed set of options to all plugins.

3.1   genshi.allow_exec

Whether the Python code blocks should be permitted in templates. Specify "yes" to allow code blocks (which is the default), or "no" otherwise. Please note that disallowing code blocks in templates does not turn Genshi into a sandboxable template engine; there are sufficient ways to do harm even using plain expressions.

3.2   genshi.auto_reload

Whether the template loader should check the last modification time of template files, and automatically reload them if they have been changed. Specify "yes" to enable this reloading (which is the default), or "no" to turn it off.

You probably want to disable reloading in a production environment to improve performance of both templating loading and the processing of includes. But remember that you'll then have to manually restart the server process anytime the templates are updated.

3.3   genshi.default_doctype

The default DOCTYPE declaration to use in generated markup. Valid values are:

html-strict (or just html)
HTML 4.01 Strict
HTML 4.01 Transitional
xhtml-strict (or just xhtml)
XHTML 1.0 Strict
XHTML 1.0 Transitional
HTML5 (as proposed by the WHAT-WG)


While using the Genshi API directly allows you to specify document types not in that list, the dictionary-of-strings based configuration utilized by the plugin API unfortunately limits your choices to those listed above.

The default behavior is to not do any prepending/replacing of a DOCTYPE, but rather pass through those defined in the templates (if any). If this option is set, however, any DOCTYPE declarations in the templates are replaced by the specified document type.

Note that with (X)HTML, the presence and choice of the DOCTYPE can have a more or less dramatic impact on how modern browsers render pages that use CSS style sheets. In particular, browsers may switch to quirks rendering mode for certain document types, or when the DOCTYPE declaration is missing completely.

For more information on the choice of the appropriate DOCTYPE, see:

3.4   genshi.default_encoding

The default output encoding to use when serializing a template. By default, Genshi uses UTF-8. If you need to, you can choose a different charset by specifying this option, although that rarely makes sense.

As Genshi is not in control over what HTTP headers are being sent together with the template output, make sure that you (or the framework you're using) specify the chosen encoding as part of the outgoing Content-Type header. For example:

Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8


Browsers commonly use ISO-8859-1 by default for text/html, so even if you use Genshi's default UTF-8 encoding, you'll have to let the browser know about that explicitly

3.5   genshi.default_format

Determines the default serialization method to use. Valid options are:

Serialization to XML
Serialization to XHTML in a way that should be compatible with HTML (i.e. the result can be sent using the text/html MIME type, but can also be handled by XML parsers if you're careful).
Serialization to HTML
Plain text serialization

See Understanding HTML, XML and XHTML for an excellent description of the subtle differences between the three different markup serialization options. As a general recommendation, if you don't have a special requirement to produce well-formed XML, you should probably use the html option for your web sites.

3.6   genshi.loader_callback

The callback function that should be invoked whenever the template loader loads a new template.


Unlike the other options, this option can not be passed as a string value, but rather must be a reference to the actual function. That effectively means it can not be set from (non-Python) configuration files.

3.7   genshi.lookup_errors

The error handling style to use in template expressions. Can be either lenient (the default) or strict. See the Error Handling section for detailled information on the differences between these two modes.

3.8   genshi.max_cache_size

The maximum number of templates that the template loader will cache in memory. The default value is 25. You may want to choose a higher value if your web site uses a larger number of templates, and you have enough memory to spare.

3.9   genshi.new_text_syntax

Whether the new syntax for text templates should be used. Specify "yes" to enable the new syntax, or "no" to use the old syntax.

In the version of Genshi, the default is to use the old syntax for backwards-compatibility, but that will change in a future release.

3.10   genshi.search_path

A colon-separated list of file-system path names that the template loader should use to search for templates.

See also: Templates, genshi.template.plugin, Documentation

Last modified 9 years ago Last modified on Dec 14, 2015, 6:22:32 AM