Version 5 supported

Template syntax

A template can contain any markup language (e.g HTML, CSV, JSON, etc) and before being rendered to the user, they're processed through SSViewer. This process replaces placeholders such as $Var with real content from your model (see Model and Databases) and allows you to use logic like <% if $Var %> in your templates.

An example of a Silverstripe CMS template is below:

<%-- app/templates/ --%>
        <% base_tag %>
        <% require themedCSS("screen") %>
            <h1>Bob's Chicken Shack</h1>

        <% with $CurrentMember %>
            <p>Welcome $FirstName $Surname.</p>
        <% end_with %>

        <% if $Dishes %>
            <% loop $Dishes %>
                <li>$Title ($Price.Nice)</li>
            <% end_loop %>
        <% end_if %>

        <% include Footer %>

Templates can be used for more than HTML output. You can use them to output your data as JSON, XML, CSV or any other text-based format.

Template file location

Silverstripe CMS templates are plain text files that have an .ss extension and are located within the templates directory of a module, theme, or your app/ folder.

See Template types and locations for more information.


Variables are placeholders that will be replaced with data from the data model or the current controller. Variables are prefixed with a $ character. Variable names must start with an alphabetic character or underscore, with subsequent characters being alphanumeric or underscore:


This will result in trying to fetch a Title property from the data being displayed. This could be a database field, a method (either named title() or getTitle()), a public property, etc.

Variables can be chained together, and include arguments.


These variables will call a method / field on the object and insert the returned value as a string into the template.

If you wish to pass arguments to getter functions, you must use the full method name. e.g. $Thing will try to access Thing as a property, which will ultimately result in getThing() being called with no arguments To pass arguments you must use $getThing('param').

Also, arguments must be literals, and cannot be other template variables ($getThing($variable) will pass the literal string '$variable' to the getThing() method).

  • $Foo("param") will call $obj->Foo("param")
  • $Foo.Bar will call $obj->Foo()->Bar

Arguments passed into methods can be any non-array literal type (not just strings), e.g:

  • $Foo(1) will pass 1 as an int
  • $Foo(0.5) will pass 0.5 as a float
  • $Foo(true) will pass true as a boolean
  • $Foo(null) will pass null as a null primitive
  • $Foo("param"), $Foo('param'), and $Foo(param) will all pass 'param' as a string. It is recommended that you always use quotes when passing a string for clarity

If a variable returns a string, that string will be inserted into the template. If the variable returns an object, then the system will attempt to render the object through its forTemplate() method. If the forTemplate() method has not been defined, the system will return an error.

For more details around how variables are inserted and formatted into a template see Formatting, Modifying and Casting Variables

Variables can come from your database fields, or custom methods you define on your objects.

// app/src/Model/MyObject.php
namespace App\Model;

use SilverStripe\ORM\DataObject;

class MyObject extends DataObject
    // ...

    public function UsersIpAddress()
        return $this->getRequest()->getIP();
<!-- app/templates/App/Model/ -->
<p>You are coming from $UsersIpAddress.</p>

Method names that begin with get will automatically be resolved when their prefix is excluded. For example, the above method call $UsersIpAddress would also invoke a method named getUsersIpAddress().

The variables that can be used in a template vary based on the object currently in scope (see scope below). Scope defines what object the methods get called on. For the standard template the scope is the current ContentController object. This object provides access to all the public methods on that controller, as well as the public methods, relations, and database fields for its corresponding SiteTree record.

<%-- app/templates/Layout/ --%>

<%-- calls `SilverStripeNavigator()` on the controller and prints markup for the `SilverStripeNavigator` for this page --%>

<%-- prints the `Content` database field from the page record --%>

Conditional logic

The simplest conditional block is to check for the presence of a value. This effectively works the same as isset() in PHP - i.e. if there is no variable available with that name, or the variable's value is 0, false, or null, the condition will be false.

<% if $CurrentMember %>
    <p>You are logged in as $CurrentMember.FirstName $CurrentMember.Surname.</p>
<% end_if %>

A conditional can also use comparisons.

<% if $MyDinner == "kipper" %>
    Yummy, kipper for tea.
<% end_if %>

You can technically omit the $ prefix for variables inside template tags, but this is a legacy behaviour and can result in unexpected behaviour. Variables should have a $ prefix, and string literals should have quotes.

Conditionals can also provide the else case.

<% if $MyDinner == "kipper" %>
    Yummy, kipper for tea
<% else %>
    I wish I could have kipper :-(
<% end_if %>

else_if can be used to handle chained conditional statements.

<% if $MyDinner == "quiche" %>
    I don't like quiche
<% else_if $MyDinner == $YourDinner %>
    We both have good taste
<% else %>
    Can I have some of your chips?
<% end_if %>


You can check if a variable is false with <% if not %>.

<% if not $DinnerInOven %>
    I'm going out for dinner tonight.
<% end_if %>

Note that you cannot combine this with other operators such as ==.

For more nuanced conditions you can use the != operator.

<% if $MyDinner != "quiche" %>
    Lets go out
<% end_if %>

Boolean logic

Multiple checks can be done using ||/or, or &&/ and.

or is functionally equivalent to || in template conditions, and and is functionally equivalent to &&.

If either of the conditions is true.

<% if $MyDinner == "kipper" || $MyDinner == "salmon" %>
    yummy, fish for tea
<% end_if %>

If both of the conditions are true.

<% if $MyDinner == "quiche" && $YourDinner == "kipper" %>
    Lets swap dinners
<% end_if %>


You can use inequalities like <, <=, >, >= to compare numbers.

<% if $Number >= 5 && $Number <= 10 %>
    Number between 5 and 10
<% end_if %>


Within Silverstripe CMS templates we have the ability to include other templates using the <% include %> tag. The includes will be searched for using the same filename look-up rules as a regular template. However in the case of the include tag an additional Includes directory will be inserted into the resolved path just prior to the filename.

<% include SideBar %> <!-- chooses templates/Includes/ -->
<% include MyNamespace/SideBar %> <!-- chooses templates/MyNamespace/Includes/ -->

The include tag can be particularly helpful for nested functionality and breaking large templates up. In this example, the include only happens if the user is logged in.

<% if $CurrentMember %>
    <% include MembersOnlyInclude %>
<% end_if %>

Includes can't directly access the parent scope when the include is included. However you can pass arguments to the include.

<% with $CurrentMember %>
    <% include MemberDetails Top=$Top, Name=$Name %>
<% end_with %>

Unlike when passing arguments to a function call in templates, arguments passed to a template include can be literals or variables.

Looping over lists

The <% loop %> tag is used to iterate or loop over a collection of items such as DataList or an ArrayList collection.

<h1>Children of $Title</h1>
    <% loop $Children %>
    <% end_loop %>

This snippet loops over the children of a page, and generates an unordered list showing the Title property from each page.

The $Title inside the loop refers to the Title property on each object that is looped over, not the current page like the reference of $Title outside the loop.

This demonstrates the concept of scope (see scope below). When inside a <% loop %> the scope of the template has changed to the object that is being looped over.

Altering the list

<% loop %> statements often iterate over SS_List instances. As the template has access to the list object, templates can call its methods.

Sorting the list by a given field.

    <% loop $Children.Sort('Title', 'ASC') %>
    <% end_loop %>

Limiting the number of items displayed.

    <% loop $Children.Limit(10) %>
    <% end_loop %>

Reversing the loop.

    <% loop $Children.Reverse %>
    <% end_loop %>

Filtering the loop.

    <% loop $Children.Filter('School', 'College') %>
    <% end_loop %>

Methods can also be chained.

    <% loop $Children.Filter('School', 'College').Sort('Score', 'DESC') %>
    <% end_loop %>

Position indicators

Inside the loop scope, there are many variables at your disposal to determine the current position in the list and iteration. These are provided by SSViewer_BasicIteratorSupport::get_template_iterator_variables().

  • $Even, $Odd: Returns boolean based on the current position in the list (see $Pos below). Handy for zebra striping.
  • $EvenOdd: Returns a string based on the current position in the list, either 'even' or 'odd'. Useful for CSS classes.
  • $IsFirst, $IsLast, $Middle: Booleans about the position in the list. All items that are not first or last are considered to be in the middle.
  • $FirstLast: Returns a string, "first", "last", "first last" (if both), or "" (if middle). Useful for CSS classes.
  • $MiddleString: Returns a string, "middle" if the item is in the middle, or "" otherwise.
  • $Pos: The current position in the list (integer). Will start at 1, but can take a starting index as a parameter.
  • $FromEnd: The position of the item from the end (integer). Last item defaults to 1, but can be passed as a parameter.
  • $TotalItems: Number of items in the list (integer).
    <% loop $Children.Reverse %>
        <% if $IsFirst %>
            <li>My Favourite</li>
        <% end_if %>

        <li class="$EvenOdd">Child $Pos of $TotalItems - $Title</li>
    <% end_loop %>

A common task is to paginate your lists. See the Pagination how to for a tutorial on adding pagination.

Modulus and MultipleOf

$Modulus and $MultipleOf can help to build column and grid layouts.

$Modulus returns the modulus of the numerical position of the item in the data set. You must pass in the number to perform modulus operations to and an optional offset to start from. It returns an integer.

$Modulus is useful for floated grid CSS layouts. If you want 3 rows across, put column-$Modulus(3) as a class and add a clear: both to .column-1.

<% loop $Children %>
    <%-- results in divs with `column-1` up to `column-4`, then repeating from `column-1` again --%>
    <div class="column-{$Modulus(4)}">
<% end_loop %>

$MultipleOf returns true or false depending on if the pos of the iterator is a multiple of a specific number. So <% if $MultipleOf(3) %> would return true on indexes 3, 6, 9, etc. It also takes an optional offset.

$MultipleOf can also be utilized to build column and grid layouts. In this case we want to add a <br> after every 3rd item.

<% loop $Children %>
    <% if $MultipleOf(3) %>
    <% end_if %>
<% end_loop %>


Sometimes you will have template tags which need to roll into one another. Use {} to contain variables.

$Foopx <%-- returns "" (as it looks for a `Foopx` variable) --%>
{$Foo}px  <%-- returns "3px" --%>

Or when having a $ sign in front of the variable such as displaying money.

$$Foo <%-- returns "" --%>
${$Foo} <%-- returns "$3" --%>

You can also use a backslash to escape the name of the variable, such as:

$Foo <%-- returns "3" --%>
\$Foo <%-- returns "$Foo" --%>

For more information on formatting and casting variables see Formatting, Modifying and Casting Variables


In the <% loop %> section, we saw an example of two scopes. Outside the <% loop %>...<% end_loop %>, we were in the scope of the top level Page. But inside the loop, we were in the scope of an item in the list (i.e.the Child).

The scope determines where the value comes from when you refer to a variable. Typically the outer scope of a layout template is the PageController that is currently being rendered.

When the scope is a PageController it will automatically also look up any methods in the corresponding Page data record. In the case of $Title the flow looks like

$Title --> [Looks up: Current PageController and parent classes] --> [Looks up: Current Page and parent classes]

The list of variables you could use in your template is the total of all the methods in the current scope object, parent classes of the current scope object, any failovers for the current scope object (e.g. controllers and pages can access each others' methods/properties), and any Extension instances you have applied to any of those.

Navigating scope


When in a particular scope, $Up takes the scope back to the previous level.

<h1>Children of '$Title'</h1>

<% loop $Children %>
    <p>Page '$Title' is a child of '$Up.Title'</p>

    <% loop $Children %>
        <p>Page '$Title' is a grandchild of '$Up.Up.Title'</p>
    <% end_loop %>
<% end_loop %>

Given the following structure:

My Page
+-+ Child 1
|   |
|   +- Grandchild 1
+-+ Child 2

It will create this markup:

<h1>Children of 'My Page'</h1>

<p>Page 'Child 1' is a child of 'My Page'</p>
<p>Page 'Grandchild 1' is a grandchild of 'My Page'</p>
<p>Page 'Child 2' is a child of 'MyPage'</p>

Each <% loop %> or <% with %> block results in a change of scope, regardless of how the objects are traversed in the opening statement. See the example below:

{$Title} <%-- Page title --%>
<% with $Members.First.Organisation %>
    {$Title} <%-- Organisation title --%>
    {$Up.Title} <%-- Page title --%>
    {$Up.Members.First.Name} <%-- Member name --%>
<% end_with %>


While $Up provides us a way to go up one level of scope, $Top is a shortcut to jump to the top most scope of the template. The previous example could be rewritten to use the following syntax.

<h1>Children of '$Title'</h1>

<% loop $Children %>
    <p>Page '$Title' is a child of '$Top.Title'</p>

    <% loop $Children %>
        <p>Page '$Title' is a grandchild of '$Top.Title'</p>
    <% end_loop %>
<% end_loop %>


The <% with %> tag lets you change into a new scope. Consider the following example:

<% with $CurrentMember %>
    Hello, $FirstName, welcome back. Your current balance is $Balance.
<% end_with %>

This is functionalty the same as the following:

Hello, $CurrentMember.FirstName, welcome back. Your current balance is $CurrentMember.Balance

Notice that the first example is much tidier, as it removes the repeated use of the $CurrentMember accessor.

Outside the <% with %>, we are in the page scope. Inside it, we are in the scope of $CurrentMember object. We can refer directly to properties and methods of the Member object. $FirstName inside the scope is equivalent to $CurrentMember.FirstName.

fortemplate() and $Me

If you reference some ViewableData object directly in a template, the forTemplate() method on that object will be called. This can be used to provide a default template for an object.

// app/src/PageType/HomePage.php
namespace App\PageType;

use Page;

class HomePage extends Page
    public function forTemplate()
        // We can also render a template here using $this->renderWith()
        return 'Page: ' . $this->Title;
<%-- calls forTemplate() on the first page in the list and prints Page: Home --%>

You can also use the $Me variable, which outputs the current object in scope by calling forTemplate() on the object.

<%-- app/templates/App/PageType/Layout/ --%>

<%-- calls forTemplate() on the current object in scope and prints Page: Home --%>

If the object does not have a forTemplate() method implemented, this will throw an error.


Using standard HTML comments is supported. These comments will be included in the published site.

$EditForm <!-- Some public comment about the form -->

However you can also use special Silverstripe CMS comments which will be stripped out of the published site. This is useful for adding notes for other developers but for things you don't want published in the public html.

$EditForm <%-- Some hidden comment about the form --%>

Related lessons

Related documentation

How to's

API documentation