Why Mako?

Mako provides another template rendering solution for TurboGears, it has a couple of advantages:

  • Is very fast! (as fast as some C engines).
  • Mako is supported by Jython (and therefore TG projects utilizing Mako will run on Jython).
  • Mako uses inheritance instead of matching to combine page tempates. This is often easier for developers to understand and see where problems lie.
  • Mako provides namespaces that behaves just like regular python code.
  • Mako syntax is much closer to standard python than many XML-based languages like TAL or Genshi.
  • Mako contains callable blocks.
  • Mako can be be used to generate non-html markup as neither the template or the output needs to be valid html.
  • Mako is the default in Pylons, so Pylons users will feel at home with it’s use.

For more information see http://www.makotemplates.org

However it has one major tradeoff. The main reason for it’s speed gain over genshi is the lack of “(x)html” validation. Some see this as an advantage some as a disavantage. This tradeoff can be mitigated with the use of a validator during development.

TurboGears mako Support

All major components of TurboGears now support mako, including the admin and CrudRestController. This means that if you prefer the speed that mako offers right now over the possible speedups Genshi will offer in the future. Additionally, you may choose to quickstart your TurboGears application with mako and you will then get a master template that is compatible with the tgext.admin template.

Using Mako in TG2

TurboGears allows you to setup and use Mako templates by simply adding it to the list of renderers to prepare in base_config:


You can also set it as the default renderer by setting:

base_config.default_renderer = "mako"

You do not need to set the default renderer to mako, but if your project will be using mako primarily, it is a good idea to do so.

Dotted Lookup Support

Since TurboGears relies on dotted template support for it’s standard, this standard also applies to Mako. Therefore, all templates are referenced using a dotted name, instead of slashes, and this applies to inherited/imported templates within your template as well.

Local Support

Mako support also includes support for local: in your template name. What this allows you to do is to tell TurboGears to look for the referenced template in the locally executing namespace, as apposed to a fully-dotted name. This allows you to write extensions that can “plug in” to an existing TurboGears project by providing direct access to a project’s master template. tgext.admin takes advantage of this; most templates have the following code at the beginning of their files:

<%inherit file="local:templates.master"/>

Exposing a mako template

If you have your project’s default set to genshi, don’t fret, you may still use mako within your app. Simply preface your template name with mako, producing an expose decorator that might look like this:

def my_awesome_controller_method(self, **kw):


The Mako docs cover template syntax very well, so we’ll not repeat it. Instead, we refer you to their site.