Building a really simple PHP templating engine

Recently I had to make use of templates in PHP, and as a lot of people on StackOverflow ([1], [2]) suggested "you don't need another templating engine like Smarty on top of PHP,  as PHP itself is a templating engine".

So, I ended up making a simple function which looks like this:

function getTemplate($file, $variables = NULL){
    if (! is_null($variables))

    include(TEMPLATES_FOLDER . $file);	

TEMPLATES_FOLDER is a PHP constant which is defined in the config.php file like this:

if ( !defined('ABSPATH') )
	define('ABSPATH', dirname(__FILE__) . '/');

define("TEMPLATES_FOLDER", ABSPATH . "templates/");

So, for example a template may look like this:

<!-- Navigation START -->
<div class="navigation">
	<div class="welcome">Hi, <?=$user;?></div>
	<div class="nav">
			<li><a href="home.php" class="<? echo (isset($currentHome) ? 'current' : '') ?>">Home</a></li>
	        <li><a href="members.php" class="<? echo (isset($currentMembers) ? 'current' : '')  ?>">Members</a></li>

	<div class="clear"></div>
<!-- Navigation START -->

Here you can see the usage of ternary if operator:

echo (isset($currentHome) ? 'current' : '')

And a way to call this template from a home.php file would be:

<? getTemplate("navigation.php", array("user" => getUser(), "currentHome" => true) ); ?>

So the getTemplate() function loads the navigation.php file and passes it its variables "user" and "currentHome" which are then in the getTemplate() function extracted by using the extract() function and echoed out. The currentHome variable is set  when called from the home.php file so that a template "knows" to set the "current" class to that element.

Templating engines have their pros and cons, and since I didn't need much leverage on the templating this proved to serve me just fine.

What do you use for your template management in PHP?

Written by Nikola Brežnjak