What's a templating system?

A templating system sits in the middle ground between using inefficient web development tools and hiring someone to maintain your website. A web development craftsman spends a little time developing a template for content that you create periodically. Once the template is done, you use it forever thereafter without involving the craftsman—until you need changes. Changes to an existing template might take very little time.

There are various ways to implement templates. If the folks who produce your content can use a text editor and enclose their content with codes that markup the text, it can be trivial. If they need a web form to fill out, creating a template takes a little more time. Regardless how you do it, the steps are:

  1. Enter your content, including declaring what images are to be used and where they should be placed.
  2. Run the content against the template. This produces the HTML/CSS/JavaScript code.
  3. Upload the code to the web server if it's not already there.

Templating may be difficult if you don't start with a clean website design. It may not be practical to implement templating when you have to deal with needless complexity, as is typical with the websites we've seen. You don't want to have to edit the resulting code produced by the template each time you use it to handle exceptions.

Behind the scenes

There may be lots of things being done by the templating process that aren't apparent to the content creator. For example, if you supply an image for the page, the templating process may automatically create several versions of that image in various sizes and formats to efficiently handle web browsers running on different sized computer screens. It's wasteful of bandwidth to send a 2048 pixel wide image to a 640 pixel screen.

More than web pages

A templating system is not limited to producing web pages. You might place a web form on your site for users to fill out. When completed, the templating engine converts the data into a PDF file.


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