Gentlemans agreement on Django templates

There are a lot of reusable apps out in the Django Ecosystem. I wrote a previous post about why I think that reusable apps should come with templates. There is a problem about distributing templates that I want to address with this post: the problem of Django Template Block names.

There are already some unwritten conventions in the community in regards to block names, and I think that talking about it will help. I don’t think that we’re going to be able to come up with a way that everyone will follow, but I think it would be nice if we could create a way to easily redistribute templates.

The main reason that I have been thinking about this is because of Pinax, they use some different template block name than my apps. So in order to use PInax and my app, I needed to change all of the blocks of my templates! That is a lot of work that could have been avoided by some standardization.

There are a lot of different ways to think about the content of a page, but I’m going to propose some basic template blocks that most pages will have, and then talk about some more ‘extended’ blocks that might be useful.

Blocks we need.

{% block title %}

This will be the block where you define the title of the page. Presumably your base.html will define your Site’s name (perhaps even using the Sites framework) outside of this tag, to be places on all pages.

{% block extra_head %}

I think that this is a good one that most people are already using in some form or another. In your base template you have a set of things in your <head> that every page will have. However, a lot of other pages need things that they also want to put in the head of a document, like RSS feeds, Javascript, CSS, and all the other things that should go in the head. You can and probably will have other specialized blocks (like title above) that will fill in other parts of the head too.

{% block body %}

This tag will be placed around the entire body section of the page. This allows you to create pages in your app that replace the entire page, not just the content. This won’t be used a lot, but it’s a really handy tag to have when you need it. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been trying to keep tag names consistent with their html tag names whenever possible.

{% block menu %}

This would be where your menu goes. It would be the site-wide navigation, and not a per-page type of navigation.

{% block content %}

This will be the place where you define the content on a page. This will presumably change on every page. It will not include any site navigation, headers, footers, or anything else that would belong in a base template.

Other possible blocks

{% block content_title %}

This would be where the “title” of a content block would be. It includes the title of a blog. It can also include some kind of navigation between content, or other things like that. Presumably something that isn’t the main pages content. I don’t know if this should go inside the content tag and have a main_content as opposed to the content tag proposed above.

{% block body_id %} {% block body_class %}

This would be used to set the class or id of the body tag in the document. This is useful to set for styling and other properties.

{% block [section]_menu %} {% block page_menu %}

This would be opposed to the menu block proposed above. It would be for the section or page.

Edit: Updated back to include _’s. Because I think thats more pythonic and looks better. The Django Admin isn’t meant to be a reference implementation of the templates.

A lot of these ideas have been taken from Nathan and his base.html for basic-blog. I’m sure that he and Christian have put way more thought into this than I have. I’m just curious what people think, and if there’s something crazy that I have missed..

Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!