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Programming Python, Second Edition by Mark Lutz

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HTMLgen: Web Pages from Objects

One of the things that makes CGI scripts complex is their inherent dependence on HTML: they must embed and generate legal HTML code to build user interfaces. These tasks might be easier if the syntax of HTML were somehow removed from CGI scripts and handled by an external tool.

HTMLgen is a third-party Python tool designed to fill this need. With it, programs build web pages by constructing trees of Python objects that represent the desired page and “know” how to format themselves as HTML. Once constructed, the program asks the top of the Python object tree to generate HTML for itself, and out comes a complete, legally formatted HTML web page.

Programs that use HTMLgen to generate pages need never deal with the syntax of HTML; instead, they can use the higher-level object model provided by HTMLgen and trust it to do the formatting step. HTMLgen may be used in any context where you need to generate HTML. It is especially suited for HTML generated periodically from static data, but can also be used for HTML creation in CGI scripts (though its use in the CGI context incurs some extra speed costs). For instance, HTMLgen would be ideal if you run a nightly job to generate web pages from database contents. HTMLgen can also be used to generate documents that don’t live on the Web at all; the HTML code it produces works just as well when viewed offline.

A Brief HTMLgen Tutorial

We can’t investigate HTMLgen in depth here, but let’s look at a few simple ...

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