Syntax Guide

Before explaining the syntax of Jiko in details, it’s important to notice that all Jiko templates are compiled to JavaScript code. Every syntax element has an equivalent in JavaScript and understanding the resulting code can be useful.

To ease debugging, Jiko was created to generate a JavaScript code as clean as possible. So you are invited to take a look at that generated code to precisely understand how Jiko works.

Expression Escaping

The most basic task of a template engine is probably to output the result of an expression. Jiko uses the ${} syntax:

The current time is ${new Date().toString()}.

Expressions inside ${} must simply be any kind of valid JavaScript expression.

Every time the ${} construct is used, escapeFunction() will be called with the result of the expression evaluation. escapeFunction() is a function defined in all Jiko compiled templates. Its default behavior is to escape HTML. So all expressions given to ${} will be escaped.

Please note that you could redefine escapeFunction() to use another escaping mechanism if you don’t intend to output HTML.

Expression Substitution

If you know that the variable you want to output is some valid HTML and you don’t want to escape it you should use the %{} construct:

<div>I like to put some %{"<em>emphasis</em>"} some times.</div>

Expressions given to %{} are not processed through escapeFunction() like with ${}.

JavaScript Blocks

To put one or multiple lines of JavaScript in the generated code, use the <% %> construct:

    var now = new Date();
    var tomorrow = new Date(now.getTime() + (24 * 60 * 60 * 1000));
<div>Let's meet tomorrow at this time: ${tomorrow.toString()}.</div>

Inside a JavaScript block, you are free to use the o variable which contains the text currentlry rendered to output some more text in the current template. When doing so, don’t forget to escape the outputed text. Just in case, o stands for output.

        ["apple", "banana", "pie"].forEach(function(el) {
            o + "<li>" + escapeFunction(el) + "</li>";

Single Line of JavaScript

JavaScript blocks are useful but the syntax is not so nice anymore when you want a single line of JavaScript. This is often the case when you use control structures. For these use cases, Jiko also has another construct: the single line %.

% [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].forEach(function(el) {
% });

Lines beginning with the % character will be considered as JavaScript until the end of the line.

This syntax allows a cleaner code in some cases. You should learn both the JavaScript blocks construct and the single line construct and switch between those two syntaxes according to the situation.

Template Parameters

Usually templates are used to render a view according to existing data. To give parameters to a template function you must give it a dictionary as first parameter. That dictionary will be available in the template as the a variable. In this case, a stands for arguments.

var mytemplate= jiko.loadFile("mytemplate.html");
console.log(mytemplates({customers: ["Harrold", "Richard", "Bill"]}));

The mytemplate.html file:

% a.customers.forEach(function(el) {
% });


The {% function %} construct was already demonstrated in the tutorial. There we explained it allows to put multiple template functions in a single file.

What was not explained is that you can actually define {% function %} constructs anywhere in Jiko. They will be translated to real JavaScript functions that can be called like any other template functions:

{% function name="renderDate" %}
    <strong>${ + 1}-${}</strong>
{% end %}

<p>Today: %{renderDate({date: new Date()})}</p>

{% function %} constructs must have a name parameter specifying the name of the template function. They end with a {% end %} construct. Here we use the %{} construct instead of ${} because when we call the renderDate template it already returns valid HTML, so we don’t have to escape it.


The module is a facility to define multiple templates in a single file. To indicate a file is in fact a module we put a {% module %} construct at the beginning of the file.

{% module %}

{% function name="renderCustomer" %}
{% end %}

    var precision = 2;

{% function name="renderBill" %}
    %{renderCustomer({customer: a.customer})}
{% end %}

The renderBill template could be called using this JavaScript code:

mymodule.renderBill({customer: {name: "Albert", account: "123"}, product: {name: "Keyboard", price: 8.9}});

Once a Jiko file beginning with {% module %} is compiled using jiko.loadFile() or using the server-side precompiler, it will result in a dictionary instead of a function. That dictionary will contain every functions defined in the module.

Please note that all functions defined in a module, as well as any JavaScript variable declared, are all located in the same scope. So it’s possible for functions to call each others or to use variables defined outside a function like in the above example.


There are two notations to mark comments in Jiko: single-line and multi-lines.

## This is a single-line comment
This is some text
{* This is 
a multi-line comment *}

Comments using the Jiko notation will not be outputted at all in the compiled JavaScript.

Escaping Jiko Constructs

If, for one reason or another, you really need to output a text like ${exp} in your HTML code you’ll have a problem because Jiko will try to interpret it. To solve this problem Jiko supports escaping of any construct using \:

\${this will directly appear in the HTML}

The \ can itself be escaped by doubling it, etc…