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Can you please provide me a resource to learn how to fully separate the code from the markup? I learned web development on ColdFusion then switched to PHP. I certainly understand separation of content from design (HTML to CSS) but I honestly have no idea how to do web development without mixing markup (HTML) with the actual programming.

I've done a little C and Java web stuff where my code printed HTML output - ugly. CFML and PHP mingle HTML and code together - also ugly, but better. I can't fathom any way NOT to mix them but would love to have some resources to see what I'm missing. I know there needs to be something better. Thanks.

Some of the other responses link to good resources, but I want to point out that "separating the code from the markup" is the wrong question -- instead what you want to do is separate business/application logic from display logic. It's okay to have an "if" statement or a "for" loop in your markup (in fact, it's necessary for dynamically outputting content), just make sure those things are specific to the display of the data, and not the creation or retrieval or "processing" of the data. For example, gat all of your data from the database first, put it all into a simple array or simple variables, then just loop through arrays and echo variables in the markup. MVC frameworks will have you put the data retrieval and prep steps in another file altogether, but even if you don't do this, at least shove all of that stuff up at the top of the php file and then at the bottom do all of the markup/display stuff.

UPDATE: Here's a stackoverflow link with a zillion more examples and resources about this: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/62617

Use an MVC framework.

I prefer Kohana + Mustache (KOStache is the module). Mustache is a logic-less templating language available in many languages. Kohana is my PHP MVC framework for choice.

Have a play around with a framework such as Symfony [1]. That's the most natural way of learning a better style of PHP web development.

[1] http://www.symfony-project.org/

Any particular reason you're linking to Symfony instead of Symfony2? I find the latter so much easier to read and work with it's not even funny.

Nope. I wasn't paying attention and did not realise that there was a new website. :)

I'm not sure about that claim. I've been working with SF for years and tried SF2 during early beta and I don't think it's that clear cut. Then again, I don't care that much so - carry on

The doc's fairly incomplete and requires you to actually browse through all the separate libraries that comprise the standard distro to even understand what you can use and where. It being OOP-tastic and brimming with interfaces and namespacing is great, but it is far from friendly to Symfony newbies.

Feels like you have to know Symfony 1 to understand what 2 is trying to do really. I wouldn't recommend it as a good intro to MVC.

The SF2 docs have really come along since the early beta. As a beginner looking at both for the first time SF2 seems more clear.

On why you might not want to mix your markup with the templating logic (copied from a blog post I wrote a while back [1]):

- Designers and developers will have a hard time working on the same file, especially the designers who don’t necessarily understand the templating rules language, and can easily break the whole thing when trying to modify the file.

- Also, when provided with a new version of the template text (say, a new version of the HTML from the designers), it’ll be hard to incorporate the modifications into the original template with all the template rules scattered inside it.

Regarding how to generate dynamic markup and not mixing the markup with templating logic, I'll cite approaches like Apache Wicket [2] (although you still need to add a couple of attributes to the markup) and server-side jQuery like select and transform templating, such as what is done in Enlive [3] and Moulder [4] (a pet project of mine)

[1] http://jawher.net/2011/01/06/on-templating-and-a-shameless-p...

[2] http://wicket.apache.org/learn/examples/helloworld.html

[3] https://github.com/cgrand/enlive/wiki

[4] http://jawher.net/2011/03/03/moulder-in-action/

Of course it is impossible to do dynamic web pages without mixing code and markup, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's just that in PHP it is possible to one single file that is both code and markup combined, whereas other languages require a separate logic file that sends data to templates.

That is NOT a result of the language. It is trivial in any language to combine both code and markup. However people using other languages generally work to avoid that.

That said, there is a long-standing tension between keeping logic out of templates, and giving templates more flexibility. Different frameworks take different positions on how to draw the line. PHP can be seen as an extreme position towards giving templates as much power as possible.

> That is NOT a result of the language.

Considering PHP is more-or-less designed to be a templating language, I'd say it is. Partly.

On the other hand, PHP is a pretty good templating language. People should just learn to separate business logic from presentation logic.

It is possible to write clean, well-factored code in PHP. Just as it is in other languages.

That wasn't how the language was originally intended to be written, and that is not how hordes of people use it. But it can be done. Really.

PHP is designed to be embedded in HTML. That is why you must use the enclosing <?php ?> tags in all PHP scripts. Even when you run standalone php scripts from the the command line, you're literally embedding PHP in STDOUT.

This is very different from other languages such as ruby where templating uses the ERB module, which is a subset of the ruby language.

See Enlive from the Clojure world. This is the detailed explanation of why Enlive rocks - https://github.com/swannodette/enlive-tutorial

Frameworks have been suggested, and are a good option. A good understanding of MVC will carry you through though, and if you are only building small things then an ad-hoc MVC set up will probably get you most of the way to readable, flexible, maintainable code. One good tool for separating code and HTML is using a templating engine of some sort, I adore Smarty and normally recommend it without hesitation, but have to admit that Twig seems to have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. I haven't used Twig yet though, so I don't know for sure!

I've used twig quite a bit. Its leagues better than Smarty in every way. I heartily recommend you give it a spin. Having autoescaping built-in is a powerful and fantastic feature.

Smarty can actually do auto-escaping. Twig was specced in the Smarty 2 era and Smarty 3 and Twig ended up solving the problem in very similar ways. My biggest gripe with Smarty is how damn unprofessional it is - backwards compatibility breaking changes on point upgrades for example, and the code and "API" (I use the term loosely) is a mess.

Or another idea that doesn't require frameworks:


I like to use simple_html_dom. It's a really nice PHP library that lets you parse html structures like JQuery.


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