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Mistakes and Macros

Twig is a lot of fun to work with, and if you’ve made it this far, you know a lot about it. In this chapter, let’s make some mistakes and debug them. We’ll also talk about macros, which are like functions you create in Twig.

Making Mistakes!

Like with anything, there are a lot of ways to make mistakes in Twig. Fortunately, Twig usually gives you very clear errors and the line number the error is on. We saw an error earlier when we put some content outside of a block tag.

Let’s a see a few more common errors. Hopefully, some of these will seem pretty obvious to you. First, putting different Twig syntaxes inside of each other is definitely not allowed:

{% if {{ pageTitle }} == 'Hello' %}

{% endif %}

When we refresh, Twig yells at us!

A hash key must be a quoted string, a number, a name, or an expression enclosed in parentheses (unexpected token “punctuation” of value “{” in “homepage.twig” at line 10’

We now know that you open up Twig just once using {{ or {% and then you can write inside of it. What’s tricky about this error message is the “a hash key must be a quoted string” part. What the heck is a hash key?

Remember from earlier that when we used the include function, we passed it a collection, or hash of variable names and values. Whenever you’re already inside Twig and you write a { character, Twig thinks this is a hash. That’s only really important because I want you to be able to recognize that when you see a Twig error containing the word “hash”, it’s talking about a curly-brace character.

Another common error is when we try to get some data off of a blank object. Suppose that there’s a featuredProduct variable that we have access to. This is supposed to be a Product object, but pretend that someone has made a mistake and featureProduct is actually blank!

// index.php
// ...

echo $twig->render('homepage.twig', array(
    // ...
    'featuredProduct' => null,
));

When we try to print the name on it, we get a strange error.

Item “name” for “” does not exist in “homepage.twig” at line 23

What it really means is that featureProduct is blank, so you can’t try to get its name of course! The empty double-quotes is a bit deceiving, but when you see it, it means that you’re trying to get something from a non-existent object. In this case, we’d need to check our PHP code to see why this variable is missing.

Overall, Twig works hard to give you very clear errors. Your errors will almost always contain a line number where the problem is and a decent message. For example, if we leave off certain characters or even add extra things, Twig’s messages always tell us exactly what’s wrong.

Macros

If you’re printing out the same markup over and over again, you may find it useful to write your own Twig functions. For example, let’s pretend that we’re iterating over 2 different sets of products: products and featureProducts:

// index.php
// ...

echo $twig->render('homepage.twig', array(
    // ...
    'products' => array(
        new Product('Serious Businessman', 'formal.png'),
        new Product('Penguin Dress', 'dress.png'),
        new Product('Sportstar Penguin', 'sports.png'),
    ),
    'featuredProducts' => array(
        new Product('Angel Costume', 'angel-costume.png'),
        new Product('Penguin Accessories', 'swatter.png'),
        new Product('Super Cool Penguin', 'super-cool.png'),
    ),
));

In homepage.twig, we certainly don’t want to duplicate our for loop and all the markup inside of it. Instead, let’s create a macro, which is just a Twig function!

Start by creating a new “do something” tag called “macro”. Let’s call our macro printProducts and have it accept two arguments: the array of products to print and the message in case there are no products. Add a closing endmacro and then copy the for loop code from below. The only adjustment we need to make is to print out the emptyMessage variable:

{% macro printProducts(products, emptyMessage) %}
    {% for product in products %}
        <div class="span4">
            <h2>{{ product.name }}</h2>

            <div class="product-img">
                <img src="../assets/images/{{ product.imagePath }}" alt="{{ product.name }}"/>
            </div>
        </div>

        {% if loop.index is divisibleby(3) and not loop.last %}
            </div><div class="row">
        {% endif %}
    {% else %}
        <div class="alert alert-error span12">
            {{ emptyMessage }}
        </div>
    {% endfor %}
{% endmacro %}

Ok! To use this, we call it just like any Twig function, except prefixed with _self.:

<div class="row">
    {{ _self.printProducts(
        products,
        "Oh now! We're all out of super-awesome penguin clothes!")
    }}
</div>

When we fresh, the first three products are printed perfectly! Now printing out the featured products is very easy:

<div class="row">
    {{ _self.printProducts(
        featuredProducts,
        "Snow storm in the arctic: nothing on sale today :/")
    }}
</div>

Macros can be a huge tool when you’re building some reusable functionality. In some ways, using a macro is similar to using the include function. Both allow you to move markup and logic into a separate place and then use it. The biggest advantage of a macro is that it’s very clear what variables you need to pass to it.

But like with the include function, macros can also live in totally different files. Let’s create a new macros.twig file and move it there:

{# templates/macros.twig #}

{% macro printProducts(products, emptyMessage) %}
    {# ... #}
{% endmacro %}

To use the macro in homepage.twig, add an imports “do something” tag. This tells Twig to “import” the macros from that file and make them available as myMacros:

{# templates/homepage.twig #}

{% import 'macros.twig' as myMacros %}

To use it, just change _self to myMacros

<div class="row">
    {{ myMacros.printProducts(
        featuredProducts,
        "Snow storm in the arctic: nothing on sale today :/")
    }}
</div>

<div class="row">
    {{ myMacros.printProducts(
        products,
        "Oh now! We're all out of super-awesome penguin clothes!")
    }}
</div>

Tip

When we say _self, it’s a way of referring to this very template.

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