Template may mean a stencil, pattern or overlay used in graphic arts (drawing, painting, etc.) and sewing to replicate letters, shapes or designs or a pre-developed page layout in electronic or paper media used to make new pages with a similar design, pattern, or style or form letter or Boilerplate (text), a predefined letter which retains its primary intent when individually customised with variable data or text.
A web template system uses a template processor to combine web templates to form finished web pages, possibly using some data source to customize the pages or present a large amount of content on similar-looking pages. It is a web publishing tool present in content management systems, web application frameworks, and HTML editors.
Web templates can be used like the template of a form letter to either generate a large number of “static” (unchanging) web pages in advance, or to produce “dynamic” web pages on demand.
A web template system is composed of:
A template engine: the primary processing element of the system
Content resource: any of various kinds of input data streams, such as from a relational database, XML files, LDAP directory, and other kinds of local or networked data
Template resource: web templates specified according to a template language
The template and content resources are processed and combined by the template engine to mass-produce web documents. For purposes of this article, web documents include any of various output formats for transmission over the web via HTTP, or another Internet protocol.
A common goal among experienced web developers is to develop and deploy applications that are flexible and easily maintainable. An important consideration in reaching this goal is the separation of business logic from presentation logic Developers use web template systems (with varying degrees of success) to maintain this separation.
With the model typically held in a relational database, the remaining components of the MVC architecture are the control and view. In the simplest of systems these two are not separated. However, adapting the separation of concerns principle one can completely decouple the relationship.
HTML editors often use web template systems to produce only static web pages. These can be viewed as a ready-made web design, used to mass-produce “cookie-cutter” websites for rapid deployment. They also commonly include themes in place of CSS styles. In general, the template language is to be used only with the editor’s software.
FrontPage and Dreamweaver are the most popular editors with template sub-system. A Flash web template uses Macromedia Flash to create visually appealing sites.
Server-side dynamic pages began to be generated by templates with pre-existent software adapted for this task. This early software was the preprocessors and macro languages, adapted for the web use, running on CGI. Next, a simple but relevant technology was the direct execution made on extension modules, started with SSI.
Many web browsers can apply an XSLT stylesheet to XML data that transforms the data into an XHTML document, thereby providing template functionality in the browser itself.
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