Zimlet Developers Guide:Templates

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As you start writing user interfaces for your zimlet (for example, dialogs), you'll start writing more and more HTML code. HTML code can be written within your zimlet JavaScript. For example, this is HTML code that displays a table:

<table cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" border="0" width="100%">
    <td colspan="2">
    This is a sample table HTML code...

If you want to use this HTML in your zimlet, you can use an Array to generate the code:

var html = new Array();
var i = 0;
html[i++] = "<table cellpadding=\"2\" cellspacing=\"0\" border=\"0\" width=\"100%\"><tr><td colspan=\"2\">";
html[i++] = "This is a sample table HTML code...";
html[i++] = "</td></table>";
return html.join("");

As your HTML code gets more advanced, keeping track of escaping the double-quotes and making sure your HTML code is properly formatted (just to name a few challenges) makes this method of integrating HTML with JavaScript more difficult to manage.

That's where Templates come in. Templates provide a mechanism to write HTML code in a "template file" and compile that code into JavaScript to be used with your zimlet. This allows you to separate the HTML presentation logic from the zimlet JavaScript application code, making it easier to write HTML for your zimlets.

Template Life Cycle

The life cycle of a template involves these stages:

  1. Creating the Template
  2. Compiling the Template
  3. Including the Template
  4. Calling the Template

This section will walk through the creation of a Template for an example zimlet named "com_zimbra_simpletemplate".

Creating the Template

This stage involves writing the HTML code for the template in the .template file (i.e. the "Template File"). The Template File basically looks like an HTML file but with some dynamic capabilities. The HTML code in the Template File should be wrapped in a <template> tag. In that <template>, you will specify a template ID. The Template File should be placed in a "templates" directory below the zimlet base directory.

The following example show creating a Template File with one template with id "Simple".


  1. Browse to your zimlet base directory:
    cd com_zimbra_simpletemplate
  2. Create a "templates" directory:
    mkdir templates
  3. Create a file named "Simple.template". This is the template file.
  4. Open the file and insert the following text:
    <template id="Simple">
      <table cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" border="0" width="100%">
          <td colspan="2">
          This is a sample table HTML code...
  5. Save the file. You now have created the template file "Simple.template" and given it a template ID of "Simple".

Multiple Templates

You can include more than one template is a Template File by including more than one set of <template> definitions. Each template must have a unique id. The following shows two templates (one named "Simple1" and the second "Simple2"). These can be defined in the same Template File.

<template id="Simple1">
<template id="Simple2">

Compiling the Template

The Template File (.template) needs to be compiled before being used in your zimlet. Compiling converts the template HTML code into JavaScript so the zimlet can call the template. Compilation will generate a .template.js file. This is the file you should reference in

Compiling on Zimbra Collaboration Suite 6.0.5

New with ZCS 6.0.5 is automatic compilation

This stage is often the most troublesome part of using Templates. To that end, we are including a link to a Zimlet Template Generator utility (written using ant). Note: this utility is provided in early-access form and is provided without support at this time.


  1. Download the Zimbra Template Compiler utility: zimbra-template-compiler-v0-9-4.zip
  2. Unzip the package to obtain the ant build.xml file Note: You can run ant help for usage.
  3. Using ant, call this buildfile with the following arguments:
    ant -Dtemplate.name=Simple.template -Dtemplate.dir=/opt/my/path/to/com_zimbra_simpletemplate/templates -Dtemplate.namespace=com_zimbra_simpletemplate.templates
    Argument Required/Optional Description
    template.name Required The name of the template file. For example, Simple.template
    template.dir Required The directory path to the template file location. This path can be absolute or relative to where the ant buildfile is run. For example, /opt/my/path/to/the/template/file.
    template.namespace Required The name of the template namespace. For a zimlet, you can use a combination of the zimlet name and the sub-directory where the template is located. For example, com_zimbra_simpletemplate.templates
    template.compiler Optional Specifies the template compiler to use. Valid values are classic (for ZCS 6.0.3 or earlier) and commons (for ZCS 6.0.4 or later). Defaults to commons.
    zimbra.home.dir Optional The Zimbra home directory (i.e. where Zimbra is installed). Defaults to /opt/zimbra.
  4. The compiled Template File "Simple.template.js" will be created next to the "Simple.template" file in the "templates" directory.

Including the Template

Now that your template is compiled, you need to include that file with your zimlet. To do this, in the Zimlet Definition File "com_zimbra_simpletemplate.xml", you should add an <include> element.

For example:


See Zimlet Definition File Reference for more information on the Zimlet Definition File and the <include> element.

Calling the Template

After you have packaged and deployed your zimlet (note: be sure to include the "templates" directory in your package), from the Zimlet Handler Object, you can use JavaScript to call the template and retrieve the HTML code:

var html = AjxTemplate.expand("com_zimbra_simpledialogtemplate.templates.Simple#Simple");		

Note: The syntax for the name of the template is: {template.namespace}.{template-name}#{template-id}

Dynamic Elements

You can use dynamic elements within a template to call JavaScript or to act on JavaScript objects. When calling the template, data can be optionally passed using a hash. That data can be accessed inside of the template using the data namespace and "<$= $>" syntax.

For example, in your template (before compilation,) you have the following text:

The phone number is <$=data.phone$>. Lines are open 24/7.

When calling the template, you should include the phone data (in a hash) to be used in the template dynamically:

var dataArray = {phone: "123-456-7890"};
canvas.innerHTML = AjxTemplate.expand("com_zimbra_simpledialogtemplate.templates.Simple#Simple", dataArray);

The resulting HTML code will be:

The phone number is 123-456-7890. Lines are open 24/7.

You can also inline JavaScript code in your template (before compilation) using the "<$= $>" syntax for a single-line and "<$ $>" for multi-line.

Do something single-line <$=AjxImg.getImageHtml("Telephone")$>.
Do something multi-line:
// do something next line
// do something next line
// do something next line

Useful Links

Verified Against: Zimbra Collaboration Suite 6.0 Date Created: 12/22/2009
Article ID: https://wiki.zimbra.com/index.php?title=Zimlet_Developers_Guide:Templates Date Modified: 2010-02-12

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