The PHP native template engine

By Nuno Mariz, on 21 June 2005 @ 10:04
“Why using templates engines if PHP is itself a template engine?” said Karlus some time ago. The answer is: The templates engines can be a great help when you're using a PHP framework that is built on modules(using MVC design pattern) where is necessary to fetch pieces of HTML to build a page, separating all code of PHP from HTML.
But the overhead of this templates engines is enormous, because of the all parsing envolved. So templates engines is not all about a sea of roses.
I have used Smarty for this kind of work for a long time and, in my opinion, is the best.
When i read this article i realized Karlus point of view. So based on this idea i have developed a small class that enables all funcionality that Smarty has (witch i use) but using the PHP natively as the parser.
It's a class with only 160 lines of code(without comments), so don't expect too much...


Using templates that are PHP files

Including templates inside templates

Caching with expired system in seconds or without expiration

Caching with id's

Plugin system, as simple as you can get

Discover the diferences with a simple template:

Smarty template (index.tpl)

{include file="header.tpl"}
Title: {$title} 
{foreach from=$list item=list_item} {$list_item}
{/foreach} </body> </htm>

Smarty object creation (index.php)


$smarty =& new Smarty();
$smarty->template_dir = 'smarty/templates/';
$smarty->compile_dir = 'smarty/templates_c/';
$smarty->cache_dir = 'smarty/cache/';
$smarty->caching = 1;
$smarty->assign('title', 'My Title');
$smarty->assign('intro', 'The intro paragraph.');
$smarty->assign('list', array('cat', 'dog', 'mouse'));

My Template (index.tpl)

Title: <?=$title;?> <br />
List: <br />
<?php foreach ($list as $item):?>
<?=$item;?> <br />
<?php endforeach; ?>

My Template object creation (index.php)


$tpl =& new Template();
$tpl->assign('title', 'My Title');
$tpl->assign('intro', 'The intro paragraph.');
$tpl->assign('list', array('cat', 'dog', 'mouse'));


The time results shown below, were measured with average results to have a more accurate benchmark.
The benchmarking was made in a Celeron 2400Mhz with 512Mb of RAM.
The Y axis corresponds to the average time in seconds per request and the X axis to the number of requests.


You can download the source code here.


  • #1 By Mário Lopes on 21 June 2005 @ 12:00
    Well, I've been using Smarty since the first time I touched it, because you can _really_ create some MVC/3-tier model that behaves as it pretends to. It's easy to see that a PHP project tends to get all dirty. Pick one and grab its source code. You'll see what I mean.

    Besides, when the cache verification is triggered, I don't notice any delay that could be noticed "by humans". I confess I haven't investigated further to see how it reacts to a high volume of requests.
  • #2 By Nuno Mariz on 22 June 2005 @ 10:29
    Hi Mário,
    I agree with you(all the way), i have been using Smarty for a long time also.
    My goal wasn't comparing my Template system with Smarty in functionalities, was only an attempt of doing a simple class that does the same thing(that i use in Smarty) and also be faster.

    With sites with a low volume of requests the difference it is not noted. But the benchmark graph doesn't show the total of time spent for each system without caching, i mean 5 seconds(my system) VS 13 seconds(Smarty) for a total of 10000 requests at the same time.

    The interesting part is that my system without caching almost gets the same results of Smarty with cache, and that is odd.
  • #3 By pcdinh on 22 June 2005 @ 11:04
    Have you tried to use PHPSavant(<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) and SolarPHP (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>) ?
  • #4 By Nuno Mariz on 22 June 2005 @ 13:20
    I've already read some stuff about phpsavant, i believe that my template system follows the same idea.
    Solarphp i never heard, but i will read it to take some ideas, or to starting using it.

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