The Scriggo Template Specification


This is a reference manual for Scriggo templates.

The Scriggo template specification is based on the Go language specification, see The Go specification applies, except as written in this specification.

Template source code representation

Template source code between {% and %}, {%% and %%} and {{ and }} is Unicode text encoded in UTF-8.

Implementation restriction: A template tool, as an editor or interpreter, may require all the template file content to be encoded in UTF-8.

Lexical elements


Line comments and general comments can only appear between {% and %} and between {%% and %%}. In addition there is a third form:

  1. Template comments start with the character sequence {# and stop with the first subsequent not paired character sequence #}. Template comments cannot appear between {% and %}, {%% and %%} and between {{ and }}.
{# this is a template comment #}

{# this {# is also a #} comment #}


The following keywords are added to the keywords of Go:

and          extends      not          render
contains     in           or           show
end          macro        raw          using
{{    }}    {%    %}
{%%   %%}   {#    #}


Format types

A format type represents a sets of string values that can have a special treatment when used with show statement. The string type is a format type.

FormatType = "string" | "html" | "css" | "js" | "json" | "markdown" .
string    The string type. The strings in this set are not escaped in a Text context.
html      The set of all strings that are not escaped in a HTML context.
css       The set of all strings that are not escaped in a CSS context.
js        The set of all strings that are not escaped in a JS context.
json      The set of all strings that are not escaped in a JSON context.
markdown  The set of all strings that are not escaped in a Markdown context.

Macro types

There is the new macro type.

TypeLit = ArrayType | StructType | PointerType | FunctionType | InterfaceType |
          SliceType | MapType | ChannelType | MacroType .

Macro types are alias for function types with a single return parameter having a predefined format type (string, html, css, js, json, markdown).

Aliases of format types cannot be used as the return type in a type macro literal.

macro() markdown           // alias for func() markdown
macro(int, bool) string    // alias for func(int, bool) string

type foo = string

macro() foo              // not valid, foo is an alias of the string type  
macro([]int) int         // not valid, int is not a format type
macro([]int)             // not valid, has no return parameters
macro() (string, css)    // not valid, has too many return parameters


Templates are autoescaping


There are no function and method declarations in Scriggo templates.

Declaration = ConstDecl | TypeDecl | VarDecl .

A constant, type and variable declaration can also be written between {% and %}.

{% var n = 5 %}

    const (
        n = 5
        m = 7

{% type T struct{ s string } %}

Macro declarations

In addition there are macro declarations. A macro declaration binds an identifier to a macro.

At part of the different declaration syntax, macros are functions. A macro declaration can only be written using {% and %}.

MacroDecl   =
    "{%" "macro" MacroName [ Parameters ] [ MacroResult ] "%}"
    "{%" "end" [ "macro" ] "%}" .
MacroName   = identifier .
MacroResult = "string" | "html" | "css" | "js" | "json" | "markdown" .

If a macro declaration does not have a result type, it is inferred from the context of the declaration.

Template format   Macro result type

Text              string
HTML              html
CSS               css
JS                js
JSON              json
Markdown          markdown

Macro declarations are only allowed in the previous template contexts.

{% macro Title %}A beautiful title{% end %}

{% macro Image(src string, with, height int) html %}
  <a href="{{ src }}" with="{{ width }}" height="{{ height }}">
{% end macro %}

A distraction free declaration is a macro declaration where the body of the macro end at the end of the file. A distraction free declaration does not have the macro keyword, does not have parameters and have an implicit return value. The name of the macro in a distraction free declaration is an exported identifier.

DistractionFreeMacroDecl = "{%" DistractionFreeMacroName "%}" Content EOF .
DistractionFreeMacroName = exported_identifier .

A distraction free declaration can only be used in a file with an extends declaration.

{ extends "layout.html" %}
{% Article %}

This is the article content,

{% a := 5 %} {# a is defined in the scope of the body of the Article macro #}

and more article content.

Predeclared identifiers

The predeclared type identifiers html, css, js, json and markdown, with the type string are called format types:

Format types:
    string html css js json markdown

The format types are the only types that can be used as macro result type.


Primary expressions

The default expression is added to primary expressions.

PrimaryExpr =
	Operand |
	Conversion |
	MethodExpr |
	DefaultExpr |
	PrimaryExpr Selector |
	PrimaryExpr Index |
	PrimaryExpr Slice |
	PrimaryExpr TypeAssertion |
	PrimaryExpr Arguments .

DefaultExpr = ( identifier | identifier Arguments | Render ) "default" Expression .

Default expression

The left expression x of the default expression

x default e

is resolved if one of the following conditions applies:

  • x is a predeclared identifier of a variable, constant or function
  • x is a render expression and the file to render exists
  • x is a call expression M(a1, a2, … an) with M an identifier representing a macro declared in the scope of a file that extends the file of the default expression

If the left expression x is resolved, x default e is replaced with x otherwise it is replaced with e.

If it is replaced based on its left expression, it must still be valid in its context if it were replaced based on its right expression.

If it is replaced based on its right expression and x is a function call, its arguments must be assignable to the empty interface type and if the last argument is followed by ..., the type of the last argument must be assignable to a slice type []T.

A default expression may only be used in the following cases:

  1. Variable declaration as in var a = x default e.
  2. Short variable declaration as in a := x default e.
  3. Typed constant declaration as in const c = x default e.
  4. Assignment as in v = x default e.
  5. Show statement as in show x default e.

In a declaration, the type of the declared variable or constant is the type it would have if the default expression were replaced with its right expression e only. In a constant declaration without a type and with e untyped, the declared constant is untyped with the same kind of e, and also x must be untyped with the same kind of e.

In a declaration or assignment, if the right expression x of the default expression is a call or render expression, the type of the right expression e must be a format type.

For example:

var filters []Filter = filters default nil
{{ Head() default "" }}
{% show Head() default itea ; using %} ... {% end %}
{{ render "specials.html" default "no specials" }}

Map selector expressions

Given the expression m with type map[K]E, where K is a string type or the interface{} type and E is any type, and given an idenfier x, m.x is a map selector expression with type E, that denotes the key "x" of m. Writing m.x is the same as writing m["x"].

As a special case, if s is a map selector expression with type interface{}, s.y is also a selector expression with type interface{} and the following rules apply:

  • If s is nil, s.y is nil.
  • If the dynamic value of s has type map[K]E, where K is a string type or the interface{} type and E is any type, s.y denotes the key "y" of s. If the key does not exist, the dynamic value of s.y is the zero value of E.
  • Otherwise, a run-time panic occurs.

The special case does not apply on the left-hand side of an assignment.

For example, given the declarations:

type S string
var t map[string]string
var s = map[string]interface{}{
    "x": "foo",
    "y": map[string]int{
        "z" : 3,
var r map[interface{}]int
var p map[S]map[S]int

one may write:

t.x        // t["x"] with type string
s.x        // s["x"] with type interface{}
s.y.z      // s["y"].(map[string]int)["z"] with type interface{}
r.x        // r["x"] with type int
p.x        // p["x"] with type map[string]int
p.x.y      // p["x"]["y"] with type int

but the following is invalid:

s.y.z = 5  // s.y has type interface{} and the special case does not apply

Render operator

For a string literal s, the expression

render s

renders the template file with path s, and it's evaluated to a string value with the result of the rendering. The type of the resulted value is the format type relative to the format of the rendered file.

{# s has type string if "codes.txt" has format Text #}
{% s := render "codes.txt" %}

{# the show expression has type html if "footer.html" has format HTML #}
{{ render "footer.html" }}

Contains operators

Scriggo templates have contains and not contains operators. The following rules applies:

  • For a value v of type []T or [n]T and a value x, the expression v contains x yield an untyped boolean; true if an element of v is equals to x. x must be assignable to T and comparable to the values of T.

  • For a map v with key values of type T and a value x of type T, the expression v contains x yield an untyped boolean; true if v has x as key.

  • For string values v and x, the expression v contains x yield an untyped boolean; true if x is within v.

  • For a string value v and a value x of type rune, the expression v contains x yield an untyped boolean; true if the Unicode code point x is within v.

  • For a value v of type []byte and a value x of type rune, the expression v contains x yield an untyped boolean; true if the Unicode code point x is within v.

If !(v contains y) is a valid expression evaluated to the value b, also v not contains y is a valid expression and it is evaluated to the value !b.


The operators are extended with the operators and, or, not, render, contains and not contains.

binary_op  = "||" | "&&" | rel_op | add_op | mul_op | "or" | "and" | "contains" | "not contains" .
unary_op   = "+" | "-" | "!" | "^" | "*" | "&" | "<-" | "not" | "render" .

Operator precedence

Precedence    Operator
    5             *  /  %  <<  >>  &  &^
    4             +  -  |  ^
    3             ==  !=  <  <=  >  >=  contains  not contains
    2             &&  and
    1             ||  or

Truthful values

A value x of type T is truthful unless one of the following conditions applies:

  • x is the zero value of T,
  • x is an empty slice or map,
  • T is an interface and the dynamic value of x is not truthful,
  • T is a struct or pointer to struct that implements interface{ IsTrue() bool } and x.IsTrue() is false.

Implementation restriction: A compiler can not assume that x.IsTrue() evaluates to the same value for the same value of x.

Extended logical operators

Extended logical operators applies to any value and yield an untyped boolean value or an untyped boolean constant if both the operands are constants. The right operand is evaluated conditionally.

and    conditional AND    p and q  is  "if p is truthful then q is truthful else false"
or     conditional OR     p or q   is  "if p is truthful then true else q is truthful"
not    NOT                not p    is  "if p is not truthful"


A value x with type html, css, js, json or markdown cannot be converted to any other type. The following exception apply:

  • if x has type markdown, x can be converted to the html type. The conversion transforms the string according to Markdown but the transformation is implementation-dependent. If x is constant, the transformation is done at compile-time.
const c1 css = "red"
var c2 js = "var a = 1;"
var c3 markdown = "# title"
const c4 = `{"a":1}`

css(c1)     // a css value can be converted to css
html(c2)    // invalid; a js value cannot be converted html
html(c3)    // a markdown value can be converted to html
json(c4)    // a untyped constant value can be converted to json


Go statement

Implementation restriction: an implementation of Scriggo templates can disallow the "go" statement. When disallowed a compile-time error occurs if used.

If statement

The expression of the "if" statement is not limited to boolean types but can have any type. If the expression evaluate to truthful value, the "if" branch is executed, otherwise, if present, the "else" branch is executed.

For statement

The "for" statement is extended with a fourth form and an "else" block.

ForStmt  = "for" ( [ Condition | ForClause ] Block | [ RangeClause | InClause ] Block [ "else" Block ] ) .
InClause = Identifier "in" Expression .

A "for" statement with an "in" clause is the same of a "for" statement with a "range" clause with the first identifier only and the short assignment.

for i in s { }

// is the same of

for i := range s { } 

A "for" statement with an "else" block, the "else" block is executed if the "for" block is not executed.

Show statement

The show statement formats the expressions, according to the expression type and the context. If show is used in a macro, the formatted values are appended to the macro response value, otherwise the formatted values are printed to the template output.

In content, the show statement can be also written using the short form.

Implementation restriction: a Scriggo templates implementation may not parse the short form. If not parsed, {{ and }} have no special meaning.

ShowStmt      = "show" Expression { "," Expression } .
ShortShowStmt = "{{" Expression "}}" .

The show statement cannot be used in a function literal.


{% show "the document has ", count, " characters" %}

    if price > 0 {
        show "price: ", price

{% macro Product(product Product) %}
    Name:  {{ product.Name }}
    Price: {{ product.Price }}
{% end %}

{% func(s string) {
    show s // invalid, cannot be used in a function literal.
}() %}

Using statement

A using statement renders its content and then executes its affected statement. Within the affected statement the predeclared identifier itea represents the rendered content.

UsingStmt    = "{%" AffectedStmt ";" "using" [ IteaType ] "%}" Content "{%" "end" [ "using" ] "%}" .
AffectedStmt =  VarDecl | ExpressionStmt | SendStmt | Assignment | ShowStmt .
IteaType     = ( FormatType | "macro" [  Parameters ] [ FormatType ] ) .

If a type is present, itea has that type. Otherwise, itea has the format type corresponding to the context of the using statement. If the type is a macro type, the result type can be omitted. If omitted, the result type is the format type corresponding to the context of the using statement.

{# there is a type, itea has type markdown #}
{% show itea; using markdown %}## {{ title }}{% end %}

{# if the context is HTML, itea has type html #}
{% var a = itea; using %}<a href="{{ src }}">{{ description }}</a>{% end %}

{# if the context is Text, itea has type macro(string) string #}  
{% names(itea); using macro(name string) %}Name: {{ name }}{% end %}

If the type of itea is a format type, itea is a string value containing the rendered content.

If the type of itea is a macro type, itea is a macro with content the content of the using statement. In the content are defined the parameter of the macro if any.


Within the affected statement of a using statement, the predeclared identifier itea represents the value resulted from the rendering of the macro's content. It can have a format type or a macro type.

Raw statement

In a raw statement the content is rendered as is, the tokens {%, %}, {%%, %%}, {{, }}, {# and #} have no special meaning.

RawStmt         = MarkedRawStmt | UnmarkedRawStmt .
MarkedRawStmt   = "{%" "raw" Marker [ Tag ] "%}" Content "{%" "end" "raw" Marker "%}" .
UnmarkedRawStmt = "{%" "raw" [ Tag ] "%}" Content "{%" "end" [ "raw" ] "%}" .
Marker          = letter { letter | unicode_digit } .
Tag             = string_lit .

The following code

{% raw %}
   {% if discount %}
   {% end if %}
{% end %}

is rendered as

   {% if discount %}
   {% end if %}

Marked raw statements ends at the first occurrence of {% end raw marker %} where marker is its marker. For example, the following code

{% raw doc %}
   Use a raw statement to render unparsed text as
   {% raw %} # title {% end %}
   {% raw cycle %}
     {% for item in items %} {{ item }} {% end %}
   {% end raw cycle %}
{% end raw doc %}

is rendered as

   Use a raw statement to render unparsed text as
   {% raw %} # title {% end %}
   {% raw cycle %}
     {% for item in items %} {{ item }} {% end %}
   {% end raw cycle %}

A raw statement can have a string literal tag. As for struct tags, an empty tag string is equivalent to an absent tag.

{% raw `lang:"javascript"` %} var a = 5; console.log(a); {% end %}

{# an empty tag is equilavent to an absent tag #}
{% raw "" %} <b! data {% end %}

Template files

Templates are constructed linking together template files. A template file has a path, rooted at the template root, and a format: Text, HTML, Markdown, CSS, JS or JSON. The format of a file is implementation dependant.

Extends declarations

An extends declaration states that the extended file depends on functionality of the file containing the declaration and enables access to exported identifiers of this file. The exports names the path of the extended file.

ExtendsDecl = "extends" ExtendsPath
ExtendsPath = string_lit .

The ExtendsPath can be relative to the directory of the file containing the declaration or can be rooted at the root of the template. An extends declaration must be the first declaration in the file.

For a file containing an extends declaration, the following rules applies:

  • it can only contain declarations,
  • it cannot contain more that one extends declaration,
  • outside {% and %}, {%% and %%} and {# and #}, it can only contain white space: spaces (U+0020), horizontal tabs (U+0009), carriage returns (U+000D), and newlines (U+000A).
  • it cannot be imported with the import declaration or rendered with the render operator.

Import declarations

The ImportPath of an import declaration is first interpreted as the path of a template file. If a template file with this path does not exist, it is interpreted as a package path.

If ImportPath is interpreted as a template file, the Go form without a package name is the same of the form with the explicit period.

// if "header.html" resolves to a template file,
// the following import declarations are equivament.

import "header.html"
import . "header.html"

A new form of import declaration is added with an explicit list of exported identifiers. Only these identifiers are imported within the importing source file.

// Import the Banners and Menus names.
import "imp/components.html" for Banners, Menus

// Import the Index and HasPrefix names.
import "strings" for Index, HasPrefix
ImportDecl    = "import" ( ImportSpec | "(" { ImportSpec ";" } ")" ) .
ImportSpec    = [ [ "." | PackageName ] ImportPath | ImportForSpec ] .
ImportForSpec = ImportPath "for" Identifier { "," Identifier } .

Template initialization and execution

The template execution starts from a template file. If the file contains an extends declaration, the execution starts from the extended file. If the extended file extends another file, the execution starts from that other file, and so on as long as an extended file does not extend any other files.

Package "unsafe"

There is not the "unsafe" package of the Go language in Scriggo templates.