HTML Templating


  1. Templating Options
  2. HTML Templating Using Selmer
  3. Creating Templates
  4. Filters
  5. Defining Custom Filters
  6. Tags
  7. Defining Custom Tags
  8. Template inheritance
  9. HTML Templating Using Hiccup
  10. Forms and Input

Templating Options

Luminus comes with the Hiccup dependency. If you're familiar with Hiccup then you can start using it out of the box.

Hiccup uses standard Clojure data structures to represent its templates. On top of that, Hiccup provides a rich API of helper functions for generating common HTML elements.

Luminus also packages Selmer for more traditional style templating using plain text files as templates.

You can choose to use either templating engine or combine them. Alternatively, you can choose to use a different templating engine altogether. A couple of popular options are Enlive and Stencil.

HTML Templating Using Selmer

Selmer is a templating language similar to Django and Rails templates. If you're familiar with Django or similar templating languages you should feel right at home.

Creating Templates

By design, Selmer separates the presentation logic from the program logic. The templates are simply HTML files with additional template tags for dynamic elements. The dynamc elements in the template are resolved during the rendering step. Let's take a look at an example template below:

        <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8">
        <title>My First Template</title>
        <h2>Hello {{name}}</h2>

The templates are rendered using a context represented by a map of key/value pairs. The context contains the variables that we'd like to render in our template at runtime. Above, we have a template representing a page that renders a single variable called name.

There are two functions for rendering templates called render and render-file. The render function accepts a string representing the template, while the render-file function accepts a string representing the path to the file containing the template.

If we saved the template defined above in a file called index.html then we could render it as follows:

(ns example.routes.home
  (:require [selmer.parser :refer [render-file]]))

(render-file "html/index.html" {:name "John"})

The render-file function expects the templates to be found at a path relative to the resources folder of the application.

Above, we passed in a string as the value for the variable name. However, we're not restricted to strings and can pass in any type we like. For example, if we pass in a collection we can iterate it using the for tag:

{% for item in items %}
<li> {{item}} </li>
{% endfor %}
(render-file "html/items.html" {:items (range 10)})

If an item happens to be a map, we can access the keys by their name as follows:

(render "<p>Hello {{user.first}} {{user.last}}</p>"
        {:user {:first "John" :last "Doe"}})

When no special processing is specified in the template then the .toString value of the parameter will be used.

By default Selmer caches the compiled template. A recompile will be triggered if the last modified timestamp of the files changes. Alternatively you can turn caching on and off calling (selmer.parser/cache-on!) and (selmer.parser/cache-off!) respectively.


Filters allow post-processing of the variables before they are rendered. For example, you can use a filter to convert the variable to upper case, compute a hash, or count the length. Filters are specified by using a | after the variable name, as can be seen below:


The following built-in filters are available:


(render "{{add_me|add:2:3:4}}" {:add_me 2}) => 11


Nota bene, the slashes aren't actually in the input string, but they are going to be in the input. Just trying to write valid Clojure code.

(render "{{name|addslashes}}" {:name "\"Russian tea is best tea\""}) => "\"Russian tea is best tea\""


Can be used inside a block to insert the content from the parent block in its place

{% block foo %} {{block.super}} some content{% endblock %}


(render "{{name|capitalize}}" {:name "russian tea is best tea"}) => "Russian tea is best tea"


(render "{{name|center:20}}" {:name "bitemyapp"}) => " bitemyapp "


(render "{{name|count}}" {:name "Yogthos"}) => "7"

(render "{{items|count}}" {:items [1 2 3 4]}) => "4"


(render "{{creation-time|date:\"yyyy-MM-dd_HH:mm:ss\"}}" {:created-at (java.util.Date.)}) => "2013-07-28_20:51:48"


(render "{{name|default:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name "bitemyapp"}) => "bitemyapp"

(render "{{name|default:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name nil}) => "I <3 ponies"

(render "{{name|default:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name []}) => "[]"

(render "{{name|default:"I <3 ponies"}}" {}) => "I <3 ponies"


(render "{{name|default-if-empty:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name "bitemyapp"}) => "bitemyapp"

(render "{{name|default-if-empty:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name nil}) => "I <3 ponies"

(render "{{name|default-if-empty:"I <3 ponies"}}" {:name []}) => "I <3 ponies"

(render "{{name|default-if-empty:"I <3 ponies"}}" {}) => "I <3 ponies"


(render "{{tis-a-number|double-format:2}}" {:tis-a-number 10.00001}) => 10.00

(render "{{tis-a-number|double-format}}" {:tis-a-number 10.00001}) => 10.0


(render "{{seq-of-some-sort|first}}" {:seq-of-some-sort [:dog :cat :bird :bird :bird :is :the :word]}) => :dog


returns digits from the right, 1 indexing on the last digit

(render "{{tis-a-number|get-digit:1}}" {:tis-a-number 12.34567}) => 7


available hashes: md5, sha, sha256, sha384, sha512

(render "{{domain|hash:\"md5\"}}" {:domain ""}) => "1bdf72e04d6b50c82a48c7e4dd38cc69"


(render "{{sequence|join}}" {:sequence [1 2 3 4]}) => "1234"


by default content will be escaped

(render "{{data|json}}" {:data [1 2 {:foo 27 :dan "awesome"}]}) => "[1,2,{&quot;foo&quot;:27,&quot;dan&quot;:&quot;awesome&quot;}]"

if you wish to render it unescaped use the safe filter:

(render "{{f|json|safe}}" {:f {:foo 27 :dan "awesome"}})


(render "{{sequence|last}}" {:sequence 12.34567}) => 7

(render "{{sequence|last}}" {:sequence [1 2 3 4]}) => 4


(render "{{sequence|length}}" {:sequence [1 2 3 4]}) => 4


(render "{{sequence|length-is:4}}" {:sequence [1 2 3 4]}) => true


Single newlines become
, double newlines mean new paragraph. Content will be escaped by default.

(render "{{foo|linebreaks|safe}}" {:foo "\nbar\nbaz"}) => "<p><br />bar<br />baz</p>"


like linebreaks but doesn't insert <p> tags.

(render "{{foo|linebreaks-br|safe}}" {:foo "\nbar\nbaz"}) => "bar<br />baz"


Displays text with line numbers.

(render "{{foo|linenumbers" {:foo "foo\n\bar\nbaz"}) => "1. foo\n2. \bar\n3. baz"


(render "{{foo|lower}}" {:foo "FOOBaR"}) => "foobar"


Returns the correct (English) pluralization based on the variable. This works with many words, but certainly not all (eg. foot/feet, mouse/mice, etc.)

(render "{{items|count}} item{{items|pluralize}}" {:items []}) => "0 items"

(render "{{items|count}} item{{items|pluralize}}" {:items [1]}) => "1 item"

(render "{{items|count}} item{{items|pluralize}}" {:items [1 2]}) => "2 items"

(render "{{fruit|count}} tomato{{fruit|pluralize:\"es\"}}" {:fruit []}) => "0 tomatoes"

(render "{{people|count}} lad{{people|pluralize:\"y\":\"ies\"}}" {:people [1]}) => "1 lady"

(render "{{people|count}} lad{{people|pluralize:\"y\":\"ies\"}}" {:people [1 2]}) => "2 ladies"


returns rand-nths value from a collection:

(render "{{foo|rand-nth}}" {:foo [1 2 3]}) => "2"


removes specified characters from the string:

(render "{{foo|remove:\"aeiou\"}}" {:foo "abcdefghijklmnop"}) => "bcdfghjklmnp"


Removes the specified HTML tags from the string:

(render "{{ value|remove-tags:b:span }}" {:value "<b><span>foobar</span></b>"}) => "foobar"


By default Selmer will HTML escape all variables, The safe filter exempts the variable from being html-escaped:

(render "{{data}}" {:data "<foo>"}) => "&lt;foo&gt;"

(render "{{data|safe}}" {:data "<foo>"}) => "<foo>"


(render "{{ value|sort }}" {:value [1 4 2 3 5]}) => "(1 2 3 4 5)"


(render "{{ value|sort-by:name }}" {:value [{:name "John"} {:name "Jane"}]}) => "({:name &quot;Jane&quot;} {:name &quot;John&quot;})"


same as sort, but in reverse order


same as sort-by, but in reverse order


(render "{{shout|upper}}" {:shout "hello"}) => "HELLO"

Defining Custom Filters

You can easily add your own filters using the selmer.filters/add-filter! function. The filter function should accept the element and return a value that will replace the original value.

(use 'selmer.filters)

(add-filter! :embiginate #(.toUpperCase %))
 (render "{{shout|embiginate}}" {:shout "hello"})

(add-filter! :count count)
(render "{{foo|count}}" {:foo (range 3)})

Filters can also be chained together as needed:

(add-filter! :empty? empty?)
(render "{{foo|upper|empty?}}" {:foo "Hello"})


Selmer provides two types of tags. The first kind are inline tags such as the extends and include tags. These tags are self contained statements and do not require an end tag. The other type is the block tags. These tags have a start and an end tag, and operate on a block of text. An example of this would be the if ... endif block.

Let's take a look at the default tags:


replaces itself with the contents of the referenced template

{% include "path/to/comments.html" %}

optionally, you can supply default arguments any tags matching these will have the default filter applied using the value supplied:

{% include "html/inheritance/child.html" with name="Jane Doe" greeting="Hello!" %}


Allows specifying a block of content that can be overwritten using the template inheritance discussed below.

{% block foo %}This text can be overridden later{% endblock %}


Will cycle through the supplied argument.

(render "{% for i in items %}<li class={% cycle \"blue\" \"white\" %}>{{i}}</li>{% endfor %}" {:items (range 5)}) => "<li class=\"blue\">0</li><li class=\"white\">1</li><li class=\"blue\">2</li><li class=\"white\">3</li><li class=\"blue\">4</li>"


This tag is used to reference a parent template. The blocks in parents are recursively overridden by the blocks from child templates.

  • Note: child templates can only contain blocks. Any tags or text outside the blocks will beignored!

For example, say we have a base template called base.html and a child template child.html:

  {% block foo %}This text can be overridden later{% endblock %}
{% extends "base.html" %}
{% block foo %}
  <p>This text will override the text in the parent</p>
{% endblock %}


It's an if – only render the body if the conditional is true.

{% if condition %}yes!{% endif %}

{% if condition %}yes!{% else %}no!{% endif %}

filters work for the conditions:

(add-filter! :empty? empty?)
(render "{% if files|empty? %}no files{% else %}files{% endif %}"
  {:files []})


Only render the body if the two args are equal (according to clojure.core/=).

{% ifequal foo bar %}yes!{% endifequal %}

{% ifequal foo bar %}yes!{% else %}no!{% endifequal %}

{% ifequal foo "this also works" %}yes!{% endifequal %}

for/endfor block


Render the body one time for each element in the list. Each render will introduce the following variables into the context:

  • forloop.first
  • forloop.last
  • forloop.counter
  • forloop.counter0
  • forloop.revcounter
  • forloop.revcounter0
  • forloop.length

{% for x in some-list %}element: {{x}} first? {{forloop.first}} last? {{forloop.last}}{% endfor %}

you can also iterate over nested data structures, eg:

{% for item in items %} <tr><td>{{}}</td><td>{{item.age}}</td></tr> {% endfor %}


renders current time

(render (str "{% now \"" date-format "\"%}") {}) => "\"01 08 2013\""


ignores any content inside the block

(render "foo bar {% comment %} baz test {{x}} {% endcomment %} blah" {}) => "foo bar baz test blah"


renders the first occurance of supplied keys that doesn't resolve to false:

(render "{% firstof var1 var2 var3 %}" {:var2 "x" :var3 "not me"}) => "x"


The style tag will generate an HTML script tag and prepend the value of the servlet-context key to the URI. When servlet-context key is not present then the original URI is set.

(render "{% style \"/css/screen.css\" %}" {:servlet-context "/myapp"}) =>

"<link href=\"/myapp/css/screen.css\" rel=\"stylesheet\" type=\"text/css\" />"


The script tag will generate an HTML script tag and prepend the value of the servlet-context key to the URI. When servlet-context key is not present then the original URI is set.

(render "{% script \"/js/site.js\" %}" {:servlet-context "/myapp"}) =>

"<script src=\"/myapp/js/site.js\" type=\"text/javascript\"></script>"


prevents any tags inside from being parsed:

(render "{% verbatim %}{{if dying}}Still alive.{{/if}}{% endverbatim %}" {}) => "{{if dying}}Still alive.{{/if}}"


injects the specified keys into the context map:

(render "{% with total=business.employees|count %}{{ total }}{% endwith %}"
         {:business {:employees (range 5)}})

=> "5 employees"

Defining Custom Tags

In addition to tags already provides you can easily define custom tags of your own. This is done by using the add-tag! macro. Let's take a look at a couple of examples to see how it works:

(use 'selmer.parser)

(add-tag! :foo
  (fn [args context-map]
    (str "foo " (first args))))

(render "{% foo quux %} {% foo baz %}" {})

(add-tag! :bar
  (fn [args context-map content]
    (str content))
  :baz :endbar)

(render "{% bar %} some text {% baz %} some more text {% endbar %}" {})

As can be seen above, the tag is defined by providing a keyword specifying the tag name followed by the handler and any closing tags.

When there are no closing tags the tag will not have any content. The handler for such tags accepts the arguments defined in the tag and the context map.

When closing tags are present then the content for each block will be keyed on the opening tags. The content will be a map containing the :args and :content keys associated with each block.

Template inheritance

Selmer templates can refer to other templates using the block tag. There are two ways to refer to a template. We can either use the extends tag or the include tag for this.

Extending Templates

When we use the extends tag, the current template will use the template it's extending as the base. Any blocks in the base template with the names matching the current template will be overwritten.

The content of the child template must be encapsulated in blocks. Any content outside the blocks present in the parent templates will be ignored.

Let's take a look at a concrete example. First, we'll define our base template and call it base.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />
    <title>{% block title %}My amazing site{% endblock %}</title>

    <div id="content">
        {% block content %}{% endblock %}

Then we'll create a new template called home.html that will extend base.html as follows:

{% extends "base.html" %}

{% block content %}
  {% for entry in entries %}
    <h2>{{ entry.title }}</h2>
    <p>{{ entry.body }}</p>
  {% endfor %}
{% endblock %}

When the home.html is rendered the content block will display the entries. However, since we did not define a block for the title, the one from base.html will be used.

Note that you can chain extended templates together. In this case the latest occurrence of a block tag will be the one that's rendered.

Including Templates

The include tag allows including blocks from other templates in the current template. Let's take a look at an example. Let's say we have a base.html template that includes templates named register.html and home.html, then defines blocks called register and home:

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" />
    <title>{% block title %}My amazing site{% endblock %}</title>

  <div id="content">
    {% if user %}
    {% include "<templates path>/home.html" %}
    {% else %}
    {% include "<templates path>/register.html" %}
    {% endif %}

We can now define the content for these blocks in separate template files called register.html:

{% block register %}
<form action="/register" method="POST">
  <label for="id">user id</label>
  <input id="id" name="id" type="text"></input>
  <input pass="pass" name="pass" type="text"></input>
  <input type="submit" value="register">
{% endblock %}

and home.html:

{% block home %}
<h1>Hello {{user}}</h1>
{% endblock %}

When the base.html is rendered it will replace the register and home include tags with the content from the templates they are referencing.

For more details please see the official documentation.

HTML Templating Using Hiccup

Hiccup is a popular HTML templating engine for Clojure. The advantage of using Hiccup is that we can use the full power of Clojure to generate and manipulate our markup. This means that you don't have to learn a separate DSL for generating your HTML with its own rules and quirks.

In Hiccup, HTML elements are represented by Clojure vectors and the structure of the element looks as following:

[:tag-name {:attribute-key "attribute value"} tag-body]

For example, if we wanted to create a div with a paragraph in it, we could write:

[:div {:id "hello", :class "content"} [:p "Hello world!"]]

which corresponds to the following HTML:

<div id="hello" class="content"><p>Hello world!</p></div>

Hiccup provides shortcuts for setting the id and class of the element, so instead of what we wrote above we could simply write:

[:div#hello.content [:p "Hello world!"]]

Hiccup also provides a number of helper functions for defining common elements such as forms, links, images, etc. All of these functions simply output vectors in the format described above. This means that if a function doesn't do what you need, you can either write out the literal form for the element by hand or take its output and modify it to fit your needs. Each function which describes an HTML element can also take optional map of attributes as its first parameter:

(image {:align "left"} "foo.png")

This would result in the following HTML:

<img align=\"left\" src=\"foo.png\">

However, it is best practice to use CSS for the actual styling of the elements in order to keep the structure separate from the representation.

Forms and Input

Hiccup also provides helpers for creating HTML forms, here's an example:

(form-to [:post "/login"]
  (text-field {:placeholder "screen name"} "id")
  (password-field {:placeholder "password"} "pass")
  (submit-button "login"))

The helper takes a vector with the type of the HTTP request specified as a keyword followed by the URL string, the rest of the arguments should be HTML elements. The above will generate the following HTML:

<form action="/login" method="POST">
  <input id="id" name="id" placeholder="screen name" type="text" />
  <input id="pass" name="pass" placeholder="password" type="password" />
  <input type="submit" value="login" />

Finally, Luminus template provides a helper function under the <yourapp>.util namespace called md->html, this function will read a markdown file relative to resources/public/ folder and return an HTML string. This can be used in conjunction with Hiccup functions, eg:

(:require [<yourapp>.util :as util])
(html [:div.container [:p (util/md->html "/md/")]])

The markdown generation is done by markdown-clj, please see the Github page for details on supported syntax.