Templates are typically used to render some data into HTML. The Cro template engine is designed with HTML in mind, and takes care to escape data as it should be escaped in HTML. A template is compiled once into Perl 6 code, and then may be used many times by passing it different input. The input data can be any Perl 6 object, including a Hash or Array.

Using a template§

To use templates, add a use Cro::WebApp::Template; at the top of the file containing the routes where they are to be used.

To render a template as the result of a route, use template:

route -> 'product', Int $id {
    my $product = $repository.lookup-product($id);
    template 'templates/product.crotmp', $product;

This is short for:

route -> 'product', Int $id {
    my $product = $repository.lookup-product($id);
    content 'text/html', render-template 'templates/product.crotmp', $product;

Where render-template renders the template and returns the result of doing so, and content is from Cro::HTTP::Router and sets the content type of the response along with the body. Note that by default template is setting a content type of text/html; to have it not do so, pass content-type:

route -> 'product', Int $id {
    my $product = $repository.lookup-product($id);
    template 'templates/product.crotmp', $product,
        content-type => 'text/plain';

The $product will become the topic of the template to render (see below for more on the template language).

Template locations and compilation§

By default, templates will be looked for in the current working directory, and <:use '...'> directives in templates do the same. Templates will also be compiled lazily on first use.

Call the template-location function in order to specify a directory where templates can be located. These calls prepend to the search path, so the latest call to template-location will take precedence. Doing:

template-location 'templates/';

Means that templates underneath the templates/ directory will be found without needing to be qualified with that path. Optionally passing :compile-all will immediately compile all of the templates and die if there are any errors. This could be put into a test case:

use Cro::WebApp::Template;
use Test;

lives-ok { template-location 'templates/', :compile-all },
    'All templates have valid syntax';


Template language§

The template language is designed to feel natural to Perl 6 developers, taking syntactic and semantic inspiration from Perl 6.


A template starts out in content mode, meaning that a template file consisting of plain HTML:

<h1>Oh, hello there</h1>
<p>I've been expecting you...</p>

Will result in that HTML being produced.

Syntax significant to the templating engine consists of a HTML-like tag that begins with a non-alphabetic character. Some stand alone, such as <.foo> and <$foo>, while others have a closer, like <@foo>...</@> The closers do not require one to write out the full opener again, just to match the "sigil". One may repeat the opening alphabetic characters of an opener in the closer if desired, however (so <@foo> could be closed with </@foo>).

As with Perl 6, there is a notion of current topic, like the Perl 6 $_.

Unpacking hash and object properties§

The <.name> form can be used to access object properties of the current topic. If the current topic does the Associative role, then this form will prefer to take the value under the name hash key, falling back to looking for a method name if there is no such key.

For example, given a template:

<p>Hello, <.name>. The weather today is <.weather>.</p>

Rendered with a hash:

    name => 'Dave',
    weather => 'rain'

The result will be:

<p>Hello, Dave. The weather today is rain.</p>

The hash fallback is to ease the transition from using a Hash at first, and then refactoring towards a model object later on.

Various other forms are available:

  • <.elems()> will always be a method call, even if used on an Associative (so can be used to overcome the key fallback)

  • <.<elems>> will always be a hash index
  • <.[0]> indexes the array element 0, assuming the topic is indexable
  • <.{$key}> can be used to do indirect hash indexing
  • <.[$idx]> can be used to do indirect array indexing

These can all be chained, thus allowing for things like <> for digging into objects/hashes. When using the indexer forms, then only the leading . is required, thus <.<foo>.<bar>> could be just <.<foo><bar>>.

The result of the indexing or method call will be strigified, and then HTML encoded for insertion into the document.


The <$...> syntax can be used to refer to a variable. It will be stringified, HTML encoded, and inserted into the document. It is a template compilation time error to refer to a variable that does not exist. The current topic can be accessed as <$_>.

It is allowed to follow the variable with any of the syntax allowed in a <.foo> tag, for example <$> or <$product<name>>. For example assuming the variables $person and $weather are defined, then:

<p>Hello, <$>. The weather is <$weather.description>, wich a low of
  <$weather.low>C and a high of <$weather.high>C.</p>

Would render something like:

<p>Hello, Darya. The weather is sunny, wich a low of
  14C and a high of 25C.</p>


The @ tag sigil is used for iteration. It may be used with any Iterable source of data, and must have a closing tag </@>. The region between the two will be evaluated for each value in the iteration, and by default the current target will be set to the current value.

For example, given the template:

<select name="country">
    <option value="<.alpha2>"><.name></option>

And the data:

    countries => [
        { name => 'Argentina', alpha2 => 'AR' },
        { name => 'Bhutan', alpha2 => 'BT' },
        { name => 'Czech Republic', alpha2 => 'CZ' },

The result would be:

<select name="country">
    <option value="AR">Argentina</option>
    <option value="BT">Bhutan</option>
    <option value="CZ">Czech Republic</option>

The <@foo> form is short for <>, and follows the same rules as <.foo> for resolution. It is also possible to write <@$foo> to iterate over a variable.

To specify a variable to declare and populate with the current iteration value instead, place a : afterward the iteration target and name the variable. For example, the earlier template could be written as:

<select name="country">
  <@countries: $c>
    <option value="<$c.alpha2>"><$></option>

Which leaves the current default target in place. Should the current target itself be Iterable, it is permissible to write simply <@_>...</@_>.

If the opening and closing iteration tags are the only thing on the line, then no output will be generated for those lines, making the output more pleasant.


The <?$foo>...</?> ("if") and <!$foo>...</!> ("unless") may be used for conditional execution. These perform a boolean test on the specified variable. It is also allowed to use them with the topic deference sytax, such as <?.is-admin>...</?>. For more complex conditions, a subset of Perl 6 expressions is accepted, using the syntax <?{ $a eq $b }>...</?>. The only thing notably different from Perl 6 is that <?{ .answer == 42 }>...</?> will have the same hash/object semantics as in <.answer>, for consistency with the rest of the templating language.

The following constructs are allowed:

  • Variables ($foo)

  • Use of the topic, method calls, and indexing, to the degree supported by the <.foo> tag syntax

  • Parentheses for grouping

  • The comparison operations ==, !=, <, <=, >=, >, eq, ne, lt, gt, ===, and !===

  • The &&, ||, and and or short-circuit logic operators

  • The +, -, *, /, and % math operations

  • The ~ and x string operations

  • Numeric literals (integer, floating point, and rational)

  • String literals (single quoted, without interpolation)

Those wishing for more are encouraged to consider writing their logic outside of the template.

If the opening and closing condition tags are the only thing on the line, then no output will be generated for those lines, making the output more pleasant.

Subroutines and macros§

It is possible to declare template subroutines that may be re-used, in order to factor out common elements.

A simple template subroutine declaration looks like this:

<:sub header>
      blah blabh

It can then be called as follows:


It is possible to declare a template sub that takes parameters:

<:sub select($options, $name)>
  <select name="<$name>">
      <option value="<$value>"><$text></option>

And then call it with arguments:

<&select(.countries, 'country')>

The arguments may be an expression as valid in a condition - that is, literals, variable access, dereferences, and some basic operators are allowed.

A template macro works somewhat like a template subroutine, except that the usage of it has a body. This body is passed as a thunk, meaning that the macro can choose to render it 0 or more times), optionally setting a new default target. For example, a macro wrapping some content up in a Bootstrap card might look like:

<:macro bs-card($title)>
  <div class="card" style="width: 18rem;">
    <div class="card-body">
      <h5 class="card-title"><$title></h5>

Where <:body> marks the point for the body to be rendered. This macro could be used as:

<|bs-card("My Stuff")>
  It's my stuff, in a BS card!

To set the current target for the body in a macro, use <:body $target>.

Factoring out subs and macros§

Template subs and macros can be factored out into other template files, and then imported with <:use ...>:

<:use 'common.crotmp'>

Inserting HTML and JavaScript§

Everything is HTML escaped by default. However, sometimes it is required to place a blob of pre-rendered HTML into the template output. There are two ways to achieve this.

  • The HTML built-in function, called as <&HTML(.stuff)>, first checks that there is no script tag or attribute starting with javascript:; if there are any, it will consider this as an XSS attack attempt and throw an exception.

  • The HTML-AND-JAVASCRIPT built-in function does not attempt any XSS protection, and simply inserts whatever it is given without any kind of escaping.

Note that the HTML function does not promise completely foolproof XSS protection. Use both of these functions very carefully.