What's new in Thymeleaf 2.1

Thymeleaf 2.1 includes a lot of new powerful features. Here they are:

New Features in Thymeleaf Core

Same-template fragments

Thymeleaf now allows including fragments from the same template. There are two available syntaxes: one specifying no template name:

...and another one specifying the keyword this:

Parameterizable fragment signatures

In order to create a more function-like mechanism for the use of template fragments, fragments defined with th:fragment can now specify a set of parameters:

This requires the use of one of these two syntaxes to call the fragment from th:include, th:substituteby or th:replace:

Note that order is not important in the last option:

Fragment local variables without fragment signature

Even if fragments are defined without signature, like this:

We could use the second syntax specified above to call them (and only the second one):

This would be, in fact, equivalent to a combination of th:include and th:with:

But the difference is, this will also work with th:substituteby (and the new th:replace). Until now these attributes didn't work well with th:with because they effectively removed the host tag before th:with got executed:

Note that this specification of local variables for a fragment —no matter whether it has a signature or not— does not cause an initialization of the context to zero. Fragments will still be able to access every context variable being used at the calling template like they currently are.

More powerful DOM selector syntax

DOM Selector syntax has been enhanced to include more selection possibilities and easier selection of DOM fragments. These selectors are a way to specify fragments already available since thymeleaf 2.0:

Thymeleaf 2.1 adds to these Selectors some syntax features borrowed from CSS and jQuery, in order to make them more powerful and easy to use:

So now the above DOM Selector expression:

...could be written as:

Fragment specifications adapted to new DOM Selectors

Also, in order to better take advantage of the new selector syntax, the syntax of the fragment inclusion attributes (like the above th:include) has been modified to convert every fragment selection into a DOM selection, so that brackets [...] are no longer needed (though allowed).

So the following, with no brackets, is now equivalent to the bracketed selector seen above:

So, summarizing, this:

Will look for a th:fragment="myfrag" fragment signature. But would also look for tags with name myfrag if they existed (which they don't, in HTML). Note the difference with:

...which will actually look for any elements with class="myfrag", without caring about th:fragment signatures.

Literal tokens

Thymeleaf 2.1 allows for a little bit of simplification in Standard Expressions (i.e. outside OGNL or SpringEL variable expressions), thanks to the introduction of literal tokens.

These tokens work exactly the same as literals ('...'), but they only allow letters (A-Z and a-z), numbers (0-9), brackets ([ and ]), dots (.), hyphens (-) and underscores (_). So no whitespaces, no commas, etc.

The nice part? tokens don't need any quotes surrounding them. So we can now do this:

...instead of:

Boolean and null tokens

Boolean and null tokens can now be used (they are reserved tokens). The following is now valid:

Note the difference with what was allowed in 2.0, when the only way to do this was to specify the false token inside the OGNL/SpringEL expression and therefore let these expression engines evaluate it (not thymeleaf).

The null token also works as expected:

Literal substitutions

The new literal substitutions in Thymeleaf Standard Expressions allow the easy formatting of strings which may contain values from variables without the need to append literals with '...' + '...'.

These substitutions must be surrounded by vertical bars (|), like:

Which is actually equivalent to:

Literal substitutions can be combined with other types of expressions:

Note: Note: only variable expressions are allowed inside |...| literal substitutions. No other literals ('...'), boolean/numeric tokens, conditional expressions etc. are.

Protocol-relative URLs

Thymeleaf 2.1 allows now protocol-relative URLs, like:

Parser-level comment blocks

Parser-level comment blocks are code that will be simply removed from the template when thymeleaf parses it. They should look like this:

Thymeleaf will remove absolutely everything between <!--/* and */-->, so these comment blocks can be used not only for template comments that shouldn't appear in the final result, but also for displaying code when a template is statically open, knowing that it will be removed when thymeleaf processes it:

This might come very handy for prototyping tables with a lot of <tr>'s, for example:

Note that this feature is dialect-independent. So it will be available for us even if we don't use the Standard Dialects.

Prototype-only comment blocks

As an evolution of parser-level comment blocks, Thymeleaf 2.1 allows the definition of special comment blocks marked to be comments when the template is open statically (i.e. as a prototype), but considered normal markup by thymeleaf when executing the template.

Thymeleaf's parsing system will simply remove the <!--/*/ and /*/--> markers, but not its contents, which will be left therefore uncommented. So when executing the template, thymeleaf will actually see this:

As with parser-level comment blocks, note that this feature is also dialect-independent.

Improved th:remove attribute

The th:remove attribute can take now any Thymeleaf Standard Expression, as long as it returns one of the following String values:

This means removals could now be conditional, like:

Also note that th:remove could consider null a synonym to none, so that the following works exactly as the example above:

If ${condition} is false, null will be returned, and thus no removal will be performed.

Synthetic th:block tag

Thymeleaf 2.1 adds the first element processor to the Standard Dialects (until now, all processors were attribute-based): th:block

th:block is a mere attribute container that allows template developers to specify whichever attributes they want, executes them, and then simply dissapears without a trace. So it could be useful, for example, when creating iterated tables that require more than one <tr> for each element:

And especially useful when used in combination with prototype-only comment blocks:

Note how this solution allows templates to be valid HTML (no need to add forbidden <div> blocks inside <table>), and still work OK when open statically in browsers as prototypes!

Support for HTML5-friendly attribute and element names

Thymeleaf 2.1 adds a completely new syntax we can use to apply processors to our templates, more HTML5-friendly.

The data-{prefix}-{name} syntax is the standard way to write custom attributes in HTML5, without requiring developers to use any namespaced names like th:*. Thymeleaf 2.1 makes this syntax automatically available to all our dialects (not only the Standard ones).

There is also a new syntax to specify custom tags: {prefix}-{name}, which follows the W3C Custom Elements specification (a part of the larger W3C Web Components spec). We can use this, for example, for the new th:block element (or also th-block):

Important: this new syntax is an addition to the namespaced th:* one, it does not replace it. There is no intention at all to deprecate the namespaced syntax in the future.

New th:assert for in-template assertions

A new attribute processor is now available: th:assert. This attribute can specify a comma-separated list of expressions which should be evaluated and produce true for every evaluation, raising an exception if not.

This comes in handy for validating parameters at a fragment signature:

New th:replace as a synonym of th:substituteby

For semantic reasons, a new th:replace has been introduced as a full synonym of th:substituteby (in fact, it was sneakily added in 2.0.18):

Template developers are now recommended to use th:replace instead of th:substituteby, as the latter will probably be deprecated (not removed) in thymeleaf 3.0.

Reuse variables in th:with

As a minor optimization, the th:with attribute now allows reusing variables defined in the same attribute:

New Features in Spring Integration

More integrated acccess to beans from expressions

Thymeleaf now allows us to access beans registered in our Spring application context in the standard way defined by Spring EL, which is using the syntax @beanName:

Until now, we could access beans with the thymeleaf-specific syntax beans.beanName:

Note that this latter syntax is now considered deprecated in favour of the standard Spring EL one (@beanName).

Integration of Spring type conversion infrastructure

Spring 3 introduced a type conversion system more general than Property Editors: the Spring Type Conversion System (see [docs.spring.io]). This system is mainly based on Converters (X-to-Y one-way conversion) and Formatters (X-to-String two-way conversion), easily implemented by means of their corresponding interfaces, and registered at a conversion service in the application context.

Thymeleaf now seamlessly integrates with our conversion service thanks to the introduction of double-bracket expressions, which apply conversion on their result:

So we can now have a formatter like this:

Registered in our application context like this:

Thymeleaf will allow us to use our formatter whenever we need it. So given a Calendar variable in context with name onedate, the following:

Results in:

Conversion in Spring forms

Besides, whenever the converted (double-bracketed) expression refers to a Spring-bound object (e.g. a form-backing bean) thymeleaf will not only apply the conversion service but also the property editors and also any formatting annotations. So given:

If that date field in ${obj} has an annotation like:

The result will be:

The #conversions utility object

Besides this double-bracket syntax, a new expression utility object has been added, allowing the manual execution of the conversion service whenever needed:

Syntax for this utility object:

Spring-resource based template resolver

Thymeleaf now includes a new ITemplateResolver implementation, besides the standard ones. This new implementation is called org.thymeleaf.spring3.templateresolver.SpringResourceTemplateResolver. It can be specified at the application context like:

This new implementation delegates on Spring's own resource resolution mechanism (ApplicationContext.getResource(resourceName)), so templates can be now selected in the same ways Spring itself allows to specify resources, like:

Render view fragments directly from controllers

Thymeleaf now allows specifying template fragments whenever a view name is returned after controller execution. So given the following template called myTemplate:

A Spring MVC controller can render the myFrag fragment with:

This is a very useful feature for controller methods meant to be called via AJAX, which can now just render the part of the HTML they really need.

Besides, the new DOM Selector syntax provides a lot of power, and there is actually no need to specify th:fragment at all:

...and then:

New th:errorclass for adding CSS class to form fields in error

Until now, whenever we wanted to apply a specific CSS class to an input field in a form when there were errors for that field, we needed to use the th:class or th:classappend attributes like this:

In Thymeleaf 2.1, in order to simplify this structure, a new th:errorclass attribute processor has been introduced. This processor will read the name of the field from the name or th:field attribute in the same tag, and apply the specified class if such field has errors.

Note the 'error' literal is in fact a token, so no single quotes are really needed:

The result is much more concise. Note also that th:errorclass works like th:classappend, not th:class. So the specified class will in fact be appended to any existing ones. So:

Will result, if the age field has errors, in:

Additional form validation error reporting options

Thymeleaf now implements a more comprehensive expression support for form validation errors (besides all the previously supported artifacts):

And now form validation errors can also be accessed outside forms themselves, by prepending the form-backing bean name (and using ${...} instead of *{...}):

Transparent integration with Spring's RequestDataValueProcessor

Thymeleaf now seamlessly integrates with Spring's RequestDataValueProcessor interface. This interface allows the interception of link URLs, form URLs and form field values before they are written to the markup result, as well as transparently adding hidden form fields that enable security features like e.g. protection agains CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery).

See the interface definition here, and also this article as an example of its use for CSRF.

An implementation of RequestDataValueProcessor can be easily configured at the Application Context:

...and Thymeleaf uses it this way:

Note this feature will only be available for Spring versions 3.1 and newer.