How to Work with Different Output Formats in Templates

How to Work with Different Output Formats in Templates

Templates are a generic way to render content in any format. While in most cases you'll use templates to render HTML content, a template can just as easily generate JavaScript, CSS, XML or any other format you can dream of.

For example, the same "resource" is often rendered in several formats. To render an article index page in XML, simply include the format in the template name:

  • XML template name: article/show.xml.twig
  • XML template filename: show.xml.twig

In reality, this is nothing more than a naming convention and the template isn't actually rendered differently based on its format.

In many cases, you may want to allow a single controller to render multiple different formats based on the "request format". For that reason, a common pattern is to do the following:

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// ...
use Sensio\Bundle\FrameworkExtraBundle\Configuration\Route;

class ArticleController extends Controller
{
    /**
     * @Route("/{slug}")
     */
    public function showAction(Request $request, $slug)
    {
        // retrieve the article based on $slug
        $article = ...;

        $format = $request->getRequestFormat();

        return $this->render('article/show.'.$format.'.twig', array(
            'article' => $article,
        ));
    }
}

The getRequestFormat() on the Request object defaults to html, but can return any other format based on the format requested by the user. The request format is most often managed by the routing, where a route can be configured so that /about-us sets the request format to html while /about-us.xml sets the format to xml. This can be achieved by using the special _format placeholder in your route definition:

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/**
 * @Route("/{slug}.{_format}", defaults={"_format": "html"})
 */
public function showAction(Request $request, $slug)
{
    // ...
}

Now, include the _format placeholder when generating a route for another format:

  • Twig
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    <a href="{{ path('article_show', {'slug': 'about-us', '_format': 'xml'}) }}">
        View as XML
    </a>
    
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    <!-- The path() method was introduced in Symfony 2.8. Prior to 2.8, you
         had to use generate(). -->
    <a href="<?php echo $view['router']->path('article_show', array(
        'slug' => 'about-us',
        '_format' => 'xml',
    )) ?>">
        View as XML
    </a>
    
For more information, see this Advanced Routing Example.

Tip

When building APIs, using file name extensions often isn't the best solution. The FOSRestBundle provides a request listener that uses content negotiation. For more information, check out the bundle's Request Format Listener documentation.

This work, including the code samples, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.