My Take on Go Template

Mar 4, 2018 20:23 · 588 words · 3 minute read go

In programming, string interpolation is common. Using ES6 (JavaScript), string interpolation can be done like this:

const name = "Yondu"
let greeting = `Hi ${name}!`
console.log(greeting) // yields "Hi Yondu!"

In Go, above code is similar to:

// #1 approach: using `+`
name := "Yondu"
greeting := "Hi " + name + "!"

// #2 approach: using `fmt.Sprintf`
name := "Yondu"
greeting := fmt.Sprintf("Hi %s!", name)

You may have noticed that we didn’t use ${...} in Go. It’s simply because that’s not how we do it in Go. However, sometimes we want to interpolate more stuffs. Something like:

Hello world!
I'm {{ name }}. I'm {{ age }} years old!
Nice to meet you!

When we see above text, we may have thought of the word “template”, because it has a placeholder-like formatting (the use of {{ }}). Go provides a built-in package, text/template and html/template, to deal with this template related operations.

Enter: Go Template


Let’s start with a sample code:

// import "text/template"

// create template string
tplString := `
Hello world!
I'm {{ .Name }}. I'm {{ .Age }} years old!
Nice to meet you :D

// initialize the template
tmpl, _ := template.New("template_name").Parse(tplString)

// create the data to pass to template
data := struct {
    Age string

// execute the template
var tpl bytes.Buffer
_ = tmpl.Execute(&tpl, data)

// Get string representation of our template and print it

Run in Go Playground

You may notice that in above code, we used {{ }} in tplString. In Go template, the {{ }} is used to execute Actions. An action can mean a data evaluation or control structures. In our code, it’s a data evaluation: printing variable. You should also notice the use of dot (.), which is how we access a variable in Go template.

In real life, you may want to separate template to its own files. For example, this is how your folder may look like:

▾ <mypackage>/
    ▾ templates/

And the content of those *.tpl files is something like:

// nav.tpl
package templates

Nav := `
This is my navigation template.
{{ .Link.Home }}
{{ .Link.About }}
{{ .Link.Login }}

Using this approach – separating template files, it will be easier to edit the template and to use it. In our nav.tpl example above, the template string is stored in an exported variable Nav. An exported variable is a variable that can be accessed from other of the package. Exporting variable is easy: make its first letter uppercase (same goes to functions). In this case, we can access Nav from other package using templates.Nav like so:

// main.go

import "mypackage/templates"

tmpl, _ := template.New("nav").Parse(templates.Nav)

✽ ✽ ✽

So far, we’ve only used a template string from variable. Can we just pass a file and treat it as a template? Yup! You can use .ParseFiles:

data := ... 
tmpl, _ := template.New("my-template").ParseFiles("my-template-file.txt")

var tpl bytes.Buffer
_ = tmpl.Execute(&tpl, data)


However, you may want to note that when passing a file as argument like in above ParseFiles() code, you should consider passing exact path. While passing relative path still works, it will be changed according to where the binary is run. So, be careful!


It’s interesting that Go provides a built-in package to handle template. Now, you can go wild and explore more about Go template (maybe, start with the difference between text/template and html/template). Have a good journey, stay safe, and don’t get lost!

Till next. See ya!

 View on Github Last updated Jun 23, 2019 (3:42am) 
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