Import, Inheritance, Declaration and Assignment

#import and #from directives


#import MODULE_OR_OBJECT [as NAME] [, ...]
#from MODULE import MODULE_OR_OBJECT [as NAME] [, ...]

The {#import} and {#from} directives are used to make external Python modules or objects available to placeholders. The syntax is identical to the import syntax in Python. Imported modules are visible globally to all methods in the generated Python class.

#import math
#import math as mathModule
#from math import sin, cos
#from math import sin as _sin
#import random, re
#from mx import DateTime         # ## Part of Egenix's mx package.

After the above imports, {$math}, {$mathModule}, {$sin}, {$cos} and {$_sin}, {$random}, {$re} and {$DateTime} may be used in {$placeholders} and expressions.



#extends CLASS

All templates are subclasses of {Cheetah.Template.Template}. However, it’s possible for a template to subclass another template or a pure Python class. This is where {#extends} steps in: it specifies the parent class. It’s equivalent to PSP’s {“@page extends=”} directive.

Cheetah imports the class mentioned in an {#extends} directive automatically if you haven’t imported it yet. The implicit importing works like this:

#extends Superclass
## Implicitly does '#from Superclass import Superclass'.

#extends Cheetah.Templates.SkeletonPage
## Implicitly does '#from Cheetah.Templates.SkeletonPage import SkeletonPage'.

If your superclass is in an unusual location or in a module named differently than the class, you must import it explicitly. There is no support for extending from a class that is not imported; e.g., from a template dynamically created from a string. Since the most practical way to get a parent template into a module is to precompile it, all parent templates essentially have to be precompiled.

There can be only one {#extends} directive in a template and it may list only one class. In other words, templates don’t do multiple inheritance. This is intentional: it’s too hard to initialize multiple base classes correctly from inside a template. However, you can do multiple inheritance in your pure Python classes.

If your pure Python class overrides any of the standard {Template} methods such as {.__init__} or {.awake}, be sure to call the superclass method in your method or things will break. Examples of calling the superclass method are in section tips.callingSuperclassMethods. A list of all superclass methods is in section tips.allMethods.

In all cases, the root superclass must be {Template}. If your bottommost class is a template, simply omit the {#extends} in it and it will automatically inherit from {Template}. { If your bottommost class is a pure Python class, it must inherit from {Template} explicitly: }

from Cheetah.Template import Template
class MyPurePythonClass(Template):

If you’re not keen about having your Python classes inherit from {Template}, create a tiny glue class that inherits both from your class and from {Template}.

Before giving any examples we’ll stress that Cheetah does { not} dictate how you should structure your inheritance tree. As long as you follow the rules above, many structures are possible.

Here’s an example for a large web site that has not only a general site template, but also a template for this section of the site, and then a specific template-servlet for each URL. (This is the “inheritance approach” discussed in the Webware chapter.) Each template inherits from a pure Python class that contains methods/attributes used by the template. We’ll begin with the bottommost superclass and end with the specific template-servlet:

1. (pure Python class containing methods for the site)
        from Cheetah.Template import Template
        class SiteLogic(Template):

2.  Site.tmpl/py  (template containing the general site framework;
                   this is the template that controls the output,
                   the one that contains "<HTML><HEAD>...", the one
                   that contains text outside any #def/#block.)
        #from SiteLogic import SiteLogic
        #extends SiteLogic
        #implements respond

3.  (pure Python class with helper code for the section)
        from Site import Site
        class SectionLogic(Site)

4.  Section.tmpl/py  (template with '#def' overrides etc. for the section)
        #from SectionLogic import SectionLogic
        #extends SectionLogic

5.  (pure Python class with helper code for the template-servlet)
        from Section import Section
        class indexLogic(Section):

6.  page1.tmpl/py  (template-servlet for a certain page on the site)
        #from page1Logic import page1Logic
        #extends page1Logic

A pure Python classes might also contain methods/attributes that aren’t used by their immediate child template, but are available for any descendant template to use if it wishes. For instance, the site template might have attributes for the name and e-mail address of the site administrator, ready to use as $placeholders in any template that wants it.

{ Whenever you use {#extends}, you often need {#implements} too,} as in step 2 above. Read the next section to understand what {#implements} is and when to use it.



#implements METHOD

You can call any {#def} or {#block} method directly and get its outpt. The top-level content - all the text/placeholders/directives outside any {#def}/{#block} - gets concatenated and wrapped in a “main method”, by default {.respond()}. So if you call {.respond()}, you get the “whole template output”. When Webware calls {.respond()}, that’s what it’s doing. And when you do ‘print t’ or ‘str(t)’ on a template instance, you’re taking advantage of the fact that Cheetah makes {.__str__()} an alias for the main method.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what if your application prefers to call another method name rather than {.respond()}? What if it wants to call, say, {.send_output()} instead? That’s where {#implements} steps in. It lets you choose the name for the main method. Just put this in your template definition:

#implements send_output

When one template extends another, every template in the inheritance chain has its own main method. To fill the template, you invoke exactly one of these methods and the others are ignored. The method you call may be in any of the templates in the inheritance chain: the base template, the leaf template, or any in between, depending on how you structure your application. So you have two problems: (1) calling the right method name, and (2) preventing an undesired same-name subclass method from overriding the one you want to call.

Cheetah assumes the method you will call is {.respond()} because that’s what Webware calls. It further assumes the desired main method is the one in the lowest-level base template, because that works well with {#block} as described in the Inheritance Approach for building Webware servlets (section webware.inheritance), which was originally the principal use for Cheetah. So when you use {#extends}, Cheetah changes that template’s main method to {.writeBody()} to get it out of the way and prevent it from overriding the base template’s {.respond()}.

Unfortunately this assumption breaks down if the template is used in other ways. For instance, you may want to use the main method in the highest-level leaf template, and treat the base template(s) as merely a library of methods/attributes. In that case, the leaf template needs {#implements respond} to change its main method name back to {.respond()} (or whatever your application desires to call). Likewise, if your main method is in one of the intermediate templates in an inheritance chain, that template needs {#implements respond}.

The other way the assumption breaks down is if the main method { is} in the base template but that template extends a pure Python class. Cheetah sees the {#extends} and dutifully but incorrectly renames the method to {.writeBody()}, so you have to use {#implements respond} to change it back. Otherwise the dummy {.respond()} in {Cheetah.Template} is found, which outputs… nothing. { So if you’re using {#extends} and get no output, the { first} thing you should think is, “Do I need to add {#implements respond} somewhere?” }



#set [global] $var = EXPR

{#set} is used to create and update local variables at run time. The expression may be any Python expression. Remember to preface variable names with $ unless they’re part of an intermediate result in a list comprehension.

Here are some examples:

#set $size = $length * 1096
#set $buffer = $size + 1096
#set $area = $length * $width
#set $namesList = ['Moe','Larry','Curly']
#set $prettyCountry = $country.replace(' ', '&nbsp;')

{#set} variables are useful to assign a short name to a {$deeply.nested.value}, to a calculation, or to a printable version of a value. The last example above converts any spaces in the ‘country’ value into HTML non-breakable-space entities, to ensure the entire value appears on one line in the browser.

{#set} variables are also useful in {#if} expressions, but remember that complex logical routines should be coded in Python, not in Cheetah!

#if $size > 1500
  #set $adj = 'large'
  #set $adj = 'small'
#end if

Or Python’s one-line equivalent, “A and B or C”. Remember that in this case, B must be a true value (not None, ‘’, 0, [] or {}).

#set $adj = $size > 1500 and 'large' or 'small'

(Note: Cheetah’s one-line {#if} will not work for this, since it produces output rather than setting a variable.

You can also use the augmented assignment operators:

## Increment $a by 5.
#set $a += 5

By default, {#set} variables are not visible in method calls or include files unless you use the {global} attribute: {#set global $var = EXPRESSION}. Global variables are visible in all methods, nested templates and included files. Use this feature with care to prevent surprises.



#del $var

{#del} is the opposite of {#set}. It deletes a { local} variable. Its usage is just like Python’s {del} statement:

#del $myVar
#del $myVar, $myArray[5]

Only local variables can be deleted. There is no directive to delete a {#set global} variable, a searchList variable, or any other type of variable.



#attr $var = EXPR

The {#attr} directive creates class attributes in the generated Python class. It should be used to assign simple Python literals such as numbers or strings. In particular, the expression must { not} depend on searchList values or {#set} variables since those are not known at compile time.

#attr $title = "Rob Roy"
#attr $author = "Sir Walter Scott"
#attr $version = 123.4

This template or any child template can output the value thus:

$title, by $author, version $version

If you have a library of templates derived from etexts (, you can extract the titles and authors and put them in a database (assuming the templates have been compiled into .py template modules):



#end def

Or the one-line variation:


The {#def} directive is used to define new methods in the generated Python class, or to override superclass methods. It is analogous to Python’s {def} statement. The directive is silent, meaning it does not itself produce any output. However, the content of the method will be inserted into the output (and the directives executed) whenever the method is later called by a $placeholder.

#def myMeth()
This is the text in my method
$a $b $c(123)  ## these placeholder names have been defined elsewhere
#end def

## and now use it...

The arglist and parentheses can be omitted:

#def myMeth
This is the text in my method
$a $b $c(123)
#end def

## and now use it...

Methods can have arguments and have defaults for those arguments, just like in Python. Remember the {$} before variable names:

#def myMeth($a, $b=1234)
This is the text in my method
$a - $b
#end def

## and now use it...

The output from this last example will be:

This is the text in my method
1 - 1234

There is also a single line version of the {#def} directive. { Unlike the multi-line directives, it uses a colon (:) to delimit the method signature and body}:

#attr $adj = 'trivial'
#def myMeth: This is the $adj method

Leading and trailing whitespace is stripped from the method. This is in contrast to:

#def myMeth2
This is the $adj method
#end def

where the method includes a newline after “method”. If you don’t want the newline, add {#slurp}:

#def myMeth3
This is the $adj method#slurp
#end def

Because {#def} is handled at compile time, it can appear above or below the placeholders that call it. And if a superclass placeholder calls a method that’s overridden in a subclass, it’s the subclass method that will be called.

#block … #end block

The {#block} directive allows you to mark a section of your template that can be selectively reimplemented in a subclass. It is very useful for changing part of a template without having to copy-paste-and-edit the entire thing. The output from a template definition that uses blocks will be identical to the output from the same template with the {#block … #end block} tags removed.

({ Note:} don’t be confused by the generic word ‘block’’ in this Guide, which means a section of code inside { any} {#TAG … #end TAG} pair. Thus, an if-block, for-block, def-block, block-block etc. In this section we are talking only of block-blocks.)

To reimplement the block, use the {#def} directive. The magical effect is that it appears to go back and change the output text { at the point the original block was defined} rather than at the location of the reimplementation.

#block testBlock
Text in the contents
area of the block directive
#if $testIt
#end if
#end block testBlock

You can repeat the block name in the {#end block} directive or not, as you wish.

{#block} directives can be nested to any depth.

#block outerBlock
Outer block contents

#block innerBlock1
inner block1 contents
#end block innerBlock1

#block innerBlock2
inner block2 contents
#end block innerBlock2

#end block outerBlock

Note that the name of the block is optional for the {#end block} tag.

Technically, {#block} directive is equivalent to a {#def} directive followed immediately by a {#placeholder} for the same name. In fact, that’s what Cheetah does. Which means you can use {$theBlockName} elsewhere in the template to output the block content again.

There is a one-line {#block} syntax analagous to the one-line {#def}.

The block must not require arguments because the implicit placeholder that’s generated will call the block without arguments.