Working with Templates in Apache Roller 4.0

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Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

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A comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to set up, customize, and market your blog using Apache Roller

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by | December 2009 | Beginner's Guides Content Management Java Open Source

This three part article series by Alfonso V. Romero, teaches you how to create and edit your first template in Roller, along with some basics about the Velocity template language, and how to create your first Roller theme from scratch. You'll also learn about Roller's model and data objects, and how to use these objects' properties, methods, and macros in a custom template to show data from your weblog.

Basically, in this article series you shall:

Your first template

In essence, a theme is a set of templates, and a template is composed of HTML and Velocity code. You can make your own templates to access your weblog's data and show this to your visitors in any way you want.

Creating and editing templates

In Apache Roller, you can create, edit, or delete templates via the Frontpage: Templates page. Let's see how to use this wonderful tool to create and edit your own templates!

Time for action – creating your first template

In this exercise, you'll learn to create and edit your first custom template via Roller's admin interface:

  1. Open your web browser, log into Roller, and go to the Templates page, under the Design tab:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  2. On the Add a new template panel, type mytemplate in the Name field, leave the default custom value in the Action field, and click on the Add button:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  3. The mytemplate template you've just created will show up in the templates list:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  4. Now click on the mytemplate link under the Name field, to open the mytemplate file for editing:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  5. Leave the mytemplate value for the Name field, type mytemplate in the Link field, and type My First Template in Apache Roller! in the Description field:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  6. Then replace the <html><body></body></html> line with the following HTML code:
    <html>
    <body>
    Welcome to my blog, <b>$model.weblog.name</b> </br>
    This is my first template </br>
    My weblog's absolute URL is: <b>$url.absoluteSite</b> </br>
    </body>
    </html>
  7. This is shown in the following screenshot:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  8. Scroll down the page and click on the Save button to apply the changes to your new template. Roller will show the Template updated successfully message inside a green box to confirm that your changes were saved:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  9. Now click on the [launch] link under the Link field to open a new tab in your web browser and see your template in action:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  10. You can close this tab now, but leave the Frontpage: Templates window open for the next exercise.

What just happened?

Now you know how to create your own templates! Although the previous example is very simple, you can use it as a starting point to create very complex templates. As I said before, templates are composed of HTML and Velocity code.

The template we wrote in the previous exercise uses a few basic HTML elements, or tags:

HTML Tag

Definition

Tip

<html> , </html>

Defines the start/end of an HTML document.

You must write this tags at the beginning/end of each Roller template.

<body>, </body>

Defines the start/end of an HTML document's body.

All the code you will write for your templates must go between the <body> and </body> tags.

<b>, </b>

Shows text in bold.

Example: <b>Hello</b> shows up as

Hello

</br>

Indicates a line break.

Example: Hello</br>World shows up as

Hello

World

Also, there are some elements from the Velocity Template Language, along with an example from the previous exercise:

 

Velocity Element

Definition

Example

$model.weblog.name

Shows the name of your weblog.

<b>$model.weblog.name</b> shows up as Ibacsoft's Weblog

$url.absoluteSite

Shows the absolute URL of your weblog

<b>$url.absoluteSite</b> shows up as http://alromero.no-ip.org/roller

 

These are just some of the basic HTML tags and Velocity elements you'll learn to use for your templates. In the following sections, we'll see some more, along with elements from the Velocity Template Language.

The Velocity template language

All templates in Roller use HTML tags, along with Velocity code. In the next subsections, you'll learn about some of the most widely used Velocity elements in your Roller templates.

Using Velocity macros in your Roller weblog

A macro in Velocity is a set of instructions that generate HTML code based on data from your weblog. They are very helpful when you need to do the same task more than once. In the following exercise, you'll learn to use some macros included in Roller in order to show your weblog data to your visitors.

Time for action – showing your weblog's blogroll and most recent entries

Now you will use the Velocity Template Language to show your weblog's bookmarks (blogroll) in your custom template, along with the most recent entries:

Go to your custom template editing page, and type the following code just above the </body></html> line:

</br>
These are my favorite Web sites: </br>
#set($rootFolder = $model.weblog.getBookmarkFolder("/"))
#showBookmarkLinksList($rootFolder false false)
Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide A comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to set up, customize, and market your blog using Apache Roller
Published: December 2009
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  1. The entire code of your template should look like the following screenshot (the code you have to add is highlighted):

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  2. Save your changes and click on your template's [launch] link to open a new tab in your web browser and see how your template will look like:
  3. Now close the results tab to return to the Front Page: Templates window, and add the following lines of code right after the code you added in steps 1 and 2 of this exercise:
    </br>
    And these are the most recent entries in my weblog: </br>
    #set($entries = $model.weblog.getRecentWeblogEntries("nil", 5))
    #showWeblogEntryLinksList($entries)
  4. Now your template's code should look like the following screenshot:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  5. Save your changes and click on your template's [launch] link to open a new tab in your web browser and see the results:

    Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

  6. You can close this tab now, but leave the Frontpage: Templates window open for the next exercise.

What just happened?

In Velocity, a macro starts with the # character. In the previous exercise, you used two Velocity macros: one to show your weblog's blogroll and the other to show your weblog's most recent entries. There are two Velocity statements implicated in the blogroll macro:

#set($rootFolder = $model.weblog.getBookmarkFolder("/"))
#showBookmarkLinksList($rootFolder false false)

The first line gets the root bookmark folder (represented by "/") and assigns it to the $rootFolder variable. The second line is the showBookmarkLinksList macro, which uses the value in $rootFolder to generate a bookmarks list and show it in your template:

Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

The two false arguments after $rootFolder indicate that we are not using subcategories inside the bookmark links list. If you want more information about these arguments, check the Roller template guide included in the Roller installation.

There are two more lines involved in the recent entries macro:

#set($entries = $model.weblog.getRecentWeblogEntries("nil", 5)
#showWeblogEntryLinksList($entries)

The first line gets the 5 most recent entries from your weblog and assigns the result to $entries. The "nil" parameter specifies that Roller must get the five most recent entries from all categories. If you want to get the most recent entries from a specific category, just replace "nil" with the name of that category.

The next line is the showWeblogEntryLinksList macro, which uses all the entries included in $entries to generate a list with links:

Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide

Summary

In this article, you learned how to create and edit your first template in Roller.

Specifically, we covered:

  • What is a template, and how to create/edit a custom template with Roller's admin interface
  • An introduction to the Velocity Template Language
Apache Roller 4.0 – Beginner's Guide A comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to set up, customize, and market your blog using Apache Roller
Published: December 2009
eBook Price: $26.99
Book Price: $44.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

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