HTTL Basics

HTTL is a template language similar to Apache Velocity, that compiled to an optimized byte code. ηCMS uses the patched httl engine located at

Example of HTTL code:

    #for(Book book: books)

By default HTTL includes 6 directives: #set, #if, #else, #for, #break, #macro.

Basic knowledge of the Java language greatly improves understanding of HTTL constructions.

Output of HTTL statement





In this example, the result of expression is printed, but this string is escaped to not be a valid html markup. For example the result of the expression: <b>text</ b> converted to &lt;b&gt;text&lt;/b&gt;. To disable escaping use $! before expression in curly braces:


But in this case, the developer should be sure that the result of the $!{expression} will not cause security or layout problems inside html markup.

If the result of the expression is null, an empty string will be displayed:

#set(String a = null)
"${a}" == ""

Displays: `"" == ""`

Comments in HTTL

Inline comments are marked by ## in the beginning of a line

## It's a comment

Block comments start with #* and end with *#:

        a block comment in HTTL

Escape directives

Escape directive #[…]#


#[this block is not HTTL]#


#[This is no parse block: #if ${name}]#

Escaping $ and # chars



The symbol \ before #, $, \ displays these characters ‘as is’, excluding them from HTTL markup.



All httl expressions are based on the Java language expressions, therefore below we list only differences from standard Java expressions.

  • If any item in a chain of calls ${} returns null, the full expression is interpreted as null, and output will be an empty string.

  • The == operator is equal to a comparison of Java objects via .equals. In other words, foo == bar is equal to foo.equals(bar) in Java.

  • An expression in single or double quotes is interpreted as a string. To use a single character (like char) conclude it to back quotes ``.

  • + in expressions where the first argument is the number is interpreted as arithmetic addition. For example: ${1 + “2”} displays 3 not 12. For string concatenation use a pair: ${s1}${s2}.

  • Access to a property values of the Java classes instances is carried out by a property name. For example, ${} is equivalent to calling ${user.getName()}.

  • The result of expression with logical ‘OR’ is the last nonzero/nonempty element of expression. For example, result of expression ${list1 || list2} is list1 while list1 isn’t empty, otherwise the result is list2.

  • Numeric long literals can be specified as <number>L or <number>l. For example, 3L or 3l. If used L, the result is  java.lang.Long object, and for a small l the result is a primitive long.

  • To access the data in the java.util.List lists or in Java.util.Map associated collections use the square brackets [] operator. For example, the expression ${mylist[0]} is equal to ${mylist.get(0)} and ${mymap[‘foo’]} is an equivalent of ${mymap.get(“foo”)}.

  • The result of the ${[“a”, “b”, “c”]} expression is java.util.List containing these elements:

    #for(color: ["red","yellow","blue"])
  • The result of the expression: ${[“foo”:”bar”, “foo2”:”bar2”]} is a java.util.Map with relationships foo => bar and foo2 => bar2:

    #for(entry: ["red":"# FF0000","yellow":"# 00FF00"])
        ${entry.key} = ${entry.value}
  • Direct access to static methods using the prefix @:


Additionally, instanceof and new operators are supported:

${user instanceof httl.test.model.User}
${user instanceof User}
${new httl.test.model.User("a","b","c").name}
${new User("a","b","c").name}

You can use a type cast operator () in expressions:

<img src="$!{((Image) asm('imageA')).link}"></img>

This is a result of the asm method calling to an instance of the class Image and calling its Java method .getLink()

Setting Variables #set


#set(type name)
#set(name = expression)
#set(type name = expression)

Where name - variable name, and type - Java variable type


#set(firstName = "John")
#set(String lastName = "Doe")

    Here is a variable called `firstName` which is to be specified in the same template above the example::

#set(String firstName)

Conditional expressions #if and #else




#if(user.role == "admin")
#else(user.role =="member")
        ... otherwise, if the role is 'member'
    ... otherwise this block will be executed

Every #if operator should be completed by the #end operator placed after a set of optional #else directives.

Processing of a conditional expression

  • For any non-Boolean expression the following values are equivalents to the truth (true):
    • A number other than zero
    • Non-empty string
    • Non-empty collection
    • Object that is not null
  • #if(expression) is equal to #if(expression != null && expression != false && expression != “”)
  • #if(object) is equal to #if(object != null)
  • #if(string) is equal to #if(string != null && string != “”)
  • #if(collection) is equal to #if(collection != null && collection.size > 0)

Iterate through the collection #for


#for(name: expression)

#for(type name: expression)


#for(books: books)

In the body of the for block there is a for object with the following permissions:

  • for.index - the current iteration number, starting with 0
  • for.size - size of the collection where the iteration is used
  • for.fist - the first item in the collection
  • for.last - the last item in the collection

Casting elements of the collection:

#for(Book book: booklist)

In this example, there is an explicit identification of the type of item in the collection. Every item will casted to the specified type: Book.

Run nine times


Output from one to nine

#for(i: 1..9)

Output 10, 20, 30, where the argument is defined as an array []

#for(i: [10, 20, 30])

Use the first the non-empty set books1 or books2 for iteration:

#for(book: books1 || books2)

Iterations on the sum of two sets

#for(book: books1 + books2)

Sort the collection, then make the iteration above it:

#for(book: books.sort)

Recursive iteration, menu items have a method getChildren, returning a collection of sub-items. Iteration over all items in the hierarchy:

#for(Menu menu: menus.recursive("getChildren"))

Cycle interruption by a #break


#break (expression)

If the expression returns true or non-empty string, the cycle will be interrupted.


Make a conditional #break directly in the body of the directive:

#break (i ​​== j) ## correct

This is significantly shorter and more productive than:

#if (i == j) #break #end

Implementation of the action if the collection is empty #for #else




#for(book: books)
        ... # is run if the collection is empty

Libraries of functions in the context of HTTL patterns

Registration of methods library and available methods

In the context of HTTL templates libraries of re-used methods are available. A library of re-used methods is a java class having public static methods. The library can be registered using configuration parameter HTTL import.methods.

Example of registering a new methods library in HTTL:


After registering of a library all public static methods of the library class become available in the context of the HTTL template and can be reused.

By default, the following libraries are defined in HTTL:


You can open the code of these classes in the HTTL project and learn the functionality available in HTTL templates.

Description of some methods of the standard HTTL library.

Call HTTL library methods

Method invocation format

${name(arg1, arg2, ...)}
${, ...)}

Where name - the method name, and arg1, arg2, … - possible arguments of the method.

Suppose we have registered the library MyHttlMethods, as described above. In our library - the one simple method, it adds Hello to the beginning of passed string argument:

package com.mycompany;

public class MyHttlMethods {

    public static String hello(String name) {
        return "Hello " + name + "!";

This method can be called by the following equivalent ways:

  1. ${hello(“Andy”)}

  2. ${“Andy”.hello}

  3. ${‘Andy’.hello}

  4. #set(String name = "Andy")

Every one of them outputs:

Hello Andy!

As you can see, the first argument of the method can be either argument of an explicit method call ${hello(name)}, or to be a context for call of this method without the first argument: ${name.hello}.

Let’s add another method to our library to expand the functionality of the former one and allow adding an arbitrary string to the end of a greeting message:

package com.mycompany;

 public class MyHttlMethods {

     public static String hello(String name) {
         return "Hello " + name + "!";

     public static String hello(String name, String msg) {
         return hello(name) + " " + msg;

Then, we will be able to print Hello Andy! Great to see u! by any of the following ways:

${hello("Andy", "Great to see u!")}

${"Andy".hello("Great to see u!")}

An example of using the method :js:func:`toCycle` from `httl.spi.methods.CollectionMethod`

Output of the product list with cyclically changing colors of rows from a set of colors:

#set(colors = ["red","blue","green"].toCycle)
#for(item: list)
    <tr style="color:${}">

Macros #macro

Macro is a HTTL markup unit which can be reused. Macro can use a set of parameters similar to parameters in a Java function. When you call a macro HTTL the markup defined in the macro is inserted to the place of a macro call.

The format of the macro definition:

#macro(name(arg1, arg2, ...))
#macro(name(type1 arg1, type1 arg2, ...))

Where name is a macro name, arg1, arg2, … are possible arguments of the macro, type1, type2, … are optional types of macro arguments.

The format of the macro definition:

${name(arg1, arg2)}

Where name is macro name, arg1, arg2, … are possible arguments of macro.

Macros can be used for inheritance HTTL patterns.

Inclusion of other files to the markup

The set of include methods from httl.spi.methods.FileMethod allows to include other files into the current markup.

Example: inclusion of template.html content to the markup:


Passing an additional arguments to the context of included file:

${include("/template.httl", ["arg":"value"])}

Use of a relative path to the file



The file, included by the include method, is interpreted as HTTL markup.

The inclusion of the file’s contents to the current markup place:



The file, included by the method read, is not interpreted as HTTL markup.