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PHP Smarty

Smarty is a template engine: a utility for separating a site's presentation (the HTML et al.) from its functionality (the PHP code). This separation has two main benefits:
  • Cleaner organization. The PHP code and files are not muddled among HTML code and files.
  • Division of labor. Dedicated Web designers and WYSIWYG editors can create a site's look without knowledge of the PHP backend. PHP coders can program without mucking up the HTML.
On top of the benefits of any template engine, Smarty adds its own benefits:
  • Multiple caching levels
  • Support for plug-ins and add-ons
  • Built-in debugger
  • Improved performance

Simple Exercise

creating a new Smarty template
To see how easy it is to work with Smarty, follow these steps:
  1. Begin a new HTML page in your text editor or IDE. NuSphere's PhpED supports a Smarty template file (.tpl) as a common type (see the image at right).
  2. Use HTML, CSS, images, etc., to create the look the page should have.
  3. Insert placeholders for content that should be dynamically generated by PHP. Placeholders should be a variable name surrounded by curly braces (see the image at right).
  4. creating a new Smarty template
  5. Save this file as demotpl.tpl.
  6. Begin a new PHP page in your text editor or IDE.
  7. Include the Smarty class (for this to work, you must have Smarty installed on your server; NuSphere's PhpED installs it automatically):
  8. Create a new object of type Smarty:
    $page = new Smarty();
  9. Assign the dynamic content to the placeholders:
    $page->assign('placeholder_name', 'content');
    This content could come from a database, the result of a conditional (e.g., reporting upon a form's submission), and so on.
  10. Generate the page:
  11. Save this file as page1.php, in the same folder as demotpl.tpl (you could also put the template file in a separate folder, then change the $page->display() line so that it contains an absolute or relative path to the template file).
  12. Run the PHP script on your server to see the results (see the image at right).
creating a new Smarty template

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