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From Jacques Le Roux <>
Subject Re: Proposal for FREEMARKER-84: More flexible handlig of missing templates
Date Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:56:43 GMT

I must say it's much easier for me to understand Jacopo's solution.

But I'm currently not a Freemarker heavy user, so maybe for those users an integrated syntax
is better.

When I think about it, I had once to use Freemarker heavily for a small CMS creation. And
then indeed I think having .get_optional_template would have 
been a plus. Because it's not a workaround, it's more flexible and allows more.

To be frank I was not aware of the special variables and the syntax is not easy, but all in
all I think it's worth it.


Le 16/02/2018 à 08:04, Daniel Dekany a écrit :
> Some more opinions guys? Especially as we got one opinion against the
> feature.
> Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 9:59:41 AM, Daniel Dekany wrote:
>> Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 9:28:18 AM, Jacopo Cappellato wrote:
>>> For less common use cases like this my preference is to defer the
>>> implementation to the template developer rather than adding complexity to
>>> the language.
>>> If I understand the use case that originated this request, something
>>> similar could be achieved with a simple trick like the following:
>>> 1) the calling code would be:
>>> <#include "possibly-missing-template.ftl" ignore_missing=true>
>>> <#if !processed??>
>>>          The template was not found or processed!
>>> </#if>
>>> 2) somewhere in possibly-missing-template.ftl (i.e. at the bottom of it) we
>>> add an assign directive like:
>>> <#assign processed=true>
>>> There are some cons to this approach (the most relevant one is that the
>>> referenced template has to contain the #assign directive) but FM users
>>> could live with this approach and in the meantime we could try to get their
>>> feedback to better understand how much this requirement is desired to
>>> justify a change to the codebase.
>> The need for optional includes is something that was brought up for
>> several times during the years. It's mostly needed for some custom
>> fallback logic as far as I can tell. (While there's #include
>> ignore_missing=true for a while, it doesn't let you to take some extra
>> action depending on if the template is missing.)
>> As of it's important enough to add a new feature of this weight (which
>> low, as it's just yet another special variable, no new directive or
>> syntax): It's a template language, and in that context
>> including/importing other templates is probably an important enough
>> topic to warrant some extras.
>>> Jacopo
>>> On Sun, Feb 11, 2018 at 10:02 PM, Daniel Dekany <> wrote:
>>>> See the RFE here:
>>>> As you see, the first consensus was introducing `.last_include_found`,
>>>> but it has two problems:
>>>> * Sometimes it happens that if, and only if the template exists then
>>>>    you want to do (usually print) something *before* it. Problem is, by
>>>>    the time you know that from `.last_include_found`, it's too late, as
>>>>    the template was already processed.
>>>> * Like many global state variables in general, this can lead to some
>>>>    confusing edge cases and hard-to-follow code. Like, if `#include`
>>>>    throws an exception, which is then handled by the user with
>>>>    `#attempt`/`#recover`, then `.last_include_found` may or may not be
>>>>    updated, as perhaps we haven't yet reached the point where it can be
>>>>    told if the template exists. (Consider an expression evaluation
>>>>    error in the `#include` parameter, or an I/O error due to which we
>>>>    can't access the template directory). Also there are some public
>>>>    `include` methods in the `Environment` API, but they can't set this
>>>>    variable, as they return a `Template`, and the variable must be set
>>>>    after the `Template` was processed, unless the template was missing.
>>>>    (If you can't figure out why it must be done that way, that proves
>>>>    again how tricky this is... think about includes inside includes.)
>>>> So, I propose the solution below. Maybe somewhat difficult to grasp
>>>> first, but it meant to be used rarely, and mostly by "experts"...
>>>> Let's hope SO and examples in the Manual will help people though. (-;
>>>> Introduce a new special variable (see
>>>> called
>>>> "get_optional_template", which is a TemplateMethodModelEx with these
>>>> parameters:
>>>> 1. template name (maybe a relative path, resolved as #include/#import
>>>> does it) 2. A hash that can have the following keys: "parse",
>>>> "encoding" (similarly to
>>>> html#ref.directive.include).
>>>> Example method call (the `.` prefix is the special variable reference
>>>> syntax):
>>>>    <#assign t = .get_optional_template("foo.ftl", { 'encoding': 'utf-8'
>>>> The method returns a hash (`t` above) that contains the following keys:
>>>> - "include": directive (or missing); `<@t.include />` has similar
>>>>    effect as `<#include "foo.ftl">`
>>>> - "import": method (or missing); returns a namespace. `<#assign f =
>>>>    t.import()>` has similar effect as `<#import 'foo.ftl' as f>`
>>>> - "exists": boolean; returns if the template was found.
>>>> The method call loads the target template eagerly, i.e., it won't wait
>>>> until `t.include`, `t.exist` etc. is actually used.
>>>> Note that the hash is returned even if the template wasn't found (but
>>>> then it won't contain "include" and "import", and "exists" will be
>>>> `false`). If some other error occurs, like an I/O error other than a
>>>> "template not found", or the template has invalid syntax, it will
>>>> throw exception (just like #include).
>>>> Use cases:
>>>> - `#include` with fallback templates or fallback macro (note how we
>>>>    can use the `exp!defaultExp` operator):
>>>>    <@.get_optional_template('foo.ftl')
>>>>        !.get_optional_template('bar.ftl').include
>>>>        !defaultMacro  />
>>>> - Doing something before `#include` if the template exists:
>>>>      <#assign t = .get_optional_template('foo.ftl')>
>>>>      <#if t.exists>
>>>>        Do before existing template
>>>>        <@t.include />
>>>>      </#if>
>>>> Opinions?
>>>> --
>>>> Thanks,
>>>>   Daniel Dekany

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