A long-lived project that still receives updates
Generic interface to multiple Ruby template engines
 Project Readme


Tilt is a thin interface over a bunch of different Ruby template engines in an attempt to make their usage as generic as possible. This is useful for web frameworks, static site generators, and other systems that support multiple template engines but don't want to code for each of them individually.

The following features are supported for all template engines (assuming the feature is relevant to the engine):

  • Custom template evaluation scopes / bindings
  • Ability to pass locals to template evaluation
  • Support for passing a block to template evaluation for "yield"
  • Backtraces with correct filenames and line numbers
  • Template file caching and reloading
  • Fast, method-based template source compilation

The primary goal is to get all of the things listed above right for all template engines included in the distribution.

Support for these template engines is included with Tilt:

Engine File Extensions Required Libraries
Asciidoctor .ad, .adoc, .asciidoc asciidoctor
Babel .es6, .babel, .jsx babel-transpiler
Builder .builder builder
CoffeeScript .coffee coffee-script (+ javascript)
CoffeeScriptLiterate .litcoffee coffee-script (+ javascript)
CommonMarker .markdown, .mkd, .md commonmarker
Creole .wiki, .creole creole
CSV .rcsv csv (ruby stdlib)
ERB .erb, .rhtml erb (ruby stdlib)
Erubi .erb, .rhtml, .erubi erubi
Erubis .erb, .rhtml, .erubis erubis
Etanni .ern, .etanni none
Haml .haml haml
Kramdown .markdown, .mkd, .md kramdown
Liquid .liquid liquid
LiveScript .ls livescript (+ javascript)
Markaby .mab markaby
Maruku .markdown, .mkd, .md maruku
Nokogiri .nokogiri nokogiri
Pandoc .markdown, .mkd, .md pandoc
Plain .html none
Prawn .prawn prawn
Radius .radius radius
RDiscount .markdown, .mkd, .md rdiscount
RDoc .rdoc rdoc
Redcarpet .markdown, .mkd, .md redcarpet
RedCloth .textile redcloth
RstPandoc .rst pandoc
Slim .slim slim
Sass .sass sass-embedded, sassc, or sass
Scss .scss sass-embedded, sassc, or sass
String .str none
TypeScript .ts typescript (+ javascript)
WikiCloth .wiki, .mediawiki, .mw wikicloth
Yajl .yajl yajl-ruby

See TEMPLATES.md for detailed information on template engine options and supported features.

Basic Usage

Instant gratification:

require 'tilt'
require 'tilt/erb'
template = Tilt.new('templates/foo.erb')
=> #<Tilt::ERBTemplate @file="templates/foo.erb" ...>
output = template.render
=> "Hello world!"

It's recommended that calling programs explicitly require the Tilt template engine libraries (like 'tilt/erb' above) at load time. Tilt attempts to lazy require the template engine library the first time a template is created, but this is prone to error in threaded environments.

The Tilt module contains generic implementation classes for all supported template engines. Each template class adheres to the same interface for creation and rendering. In the instant gratification example, we let Tilt determine the template implementation class based on the filename, but Tilt::Template implementations can also be used directly:

require 'tilt/haml'
template = Tilt::HamlTemplate.new('templates/foo.haml')
output = template.render

The render method takes an optional evaluation scope and locals hash arguments. Here, the template is evaluated within the context of the Person object with locals x and y:

require 'tilt/erb'
template = Tilt::ERBTemplate.new('templates/foo.erb')
joe = Person.find('joe')
output = template.render(joe, :x => 35, :y => 42)

If no scope is provided, the template is evaluated within the context of an object created with Object.new.

A single Template instance's render method may be called multiple times with different scope and locals arguments. Continuing the previous example, we render the same compiled template but this time in jane's scope:

jane = Person.find('jane')
output = template.render(jane, :x => 22, :y => nil)

Blocks can be passed to render for templates that support running arbitrary ruby code (usually with some form of yield). For instance, assuming the following in foo.erb:

Hey <%= yield %>!

The block passed to render is called on yield:

template = Tilt::ERBTemplate.new('foo.erb')
template.render { 'Joe' }
# => "Hey Joe!"

Template Mappings

The Tilt::Mapping class includes methods for associating template implementation classes with filename patterns and for locating/instantiating template classes based on those associations.

The Tilt module has a global instance of Mapping that is populated with the table of template engines above.

The Tilt.register method associates a filename pattern with a specific template implementation. To use ERB for files ending in a .bar extension:

>> Tilt.register Tilt::ERBTemplate, 'bar'
>> Tilt.new('views/foo.bar')
=> #<Tilt::ERBTemplate @file="views/foo.bar" ...>

Retrieving the template class for a file or file extension:

>> Tilt['foo.bar']
=> Tilt::ERBTemplate
>> Tilt['haml']
=> Tilt::HamlTemplate

Retrieving a list of template classes for a file:

>> Tilt.templates_for('foo.bar')
=> [Tilt::ERBTemplate]
>> Tilt.templates_for('foo.haml.bar')
=> [Tilt::ERBTemplate, Tilt::HamlTemplate]

The template class is determined by searching for a series of decreasingly specific name patterns. When creating a new template with Tilt.new('views/foo.html.erb'), we check for the following template mappings:

  1. views/foo.html.erb
  2. foo.html.erb
  3. html.erb
  4. erb

Template Pipelines

In some cases, it is useful to take the output of one template engine, and use it as input to another template engine. This can be useful when a template engine does not support locals or a scope, and you want to customize the output per different locals. For example, let's say you have an scss file that you want to allow customization with erb, such as:

.foo {
  .bar {
    .<%= hide_class %> {
      display: none;

You can do this manually:

scss = Tilt.new("file.scss.erb").render(nil, hide_class: 'baz')
css = Tilt.new("scss"){scss}.render

A more automated way to handle it is to register a template pipeline:


Then Tilt will automatically take the output of the erb engine, and pass it to the scss engine, automating the above code.

  css = Tilt.new("file.scss.erb").render(nil, hide_class: 'baz')

Finalizing Mappings

By default, Tilt::Mapping instances will lazy load files for template classes, and will allow for registering an unregistering template classes. To make sure this is safe in a multithreaded environment, a mutex is used to synchronize access. To improve performance, and prevent additional lazy loading of template classes, you can finalize mappings. Finalizing a mapping returns a new finalized mapping that is frozen, cannot be modified, and will not lazy load template classes not already loaded. Users of Tilt are encouraged to manually require the template libraries they desire to use, and then freeze the mappings. Tilt.finalize! will replace Tilt's default mapping with a finalized versions, as well as freeze Tilt so that no further changes can be made.

require 'tilt/erubi'
require 'tilt/string'
require 'tilt/sass'
Tilt['erb'] # => Tilt::ErubiTemplate
Tilt['str'] # => Tilt::StringTemplate
Tilt['scss'] # => Tilt::ScssTemplate
Tilt['haml'] # => nil # even if haml is installed


Tilt needs to know the encoding of the template in order to work properly:

Tilt will use Encoding.default_external as the encoding when reading external files. If you're mostly working with one encoding (e.g. UTF-8) we highly recommend setting this option. When providing a custom reader block (Tilt.new { custom_string }) you'll have ensure the string is properly encoded yourself.

Most of the template engines in Tilt also allows you to override the encoding using the :default_encoding-option:

tmpl = Tilt.new('hello.erb', :default_encoding => 'Big5')

Ultimately it's up to the template engine how to handle the encoding: It might respect :default_encoding, it might always assume it's UTF-8 (like CoffeeScript), or it can do its own encoding detection.

Template Compilation

Tilt compiles generated Ruby source code produced by template engines and reuses it on subsequent template invocations. Benchmarks show this yields a 5x-10x performance increase over evaluating the Ruby source on each invocation.

Template compilation is currently supported for these template engines: StringTemplate, ERB, Erubis, Erubi, Etanni, Haml, Nokogiri, Builder, CSV, Prawn, and Yajl.


Tilt is distributed under the MIT license. See the COPYING file for more info.