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Twig for Developers

This chapter describes the API to Twig and not the template language. It will be most useful as reference to those implementing the template interface to the application and not those who are creating Twig templates.


Twig uses a central object called the environment (of class \Twig\Environment). Instances of this class are used to store the configuration and extensions, and are used to load templates.

Most applications create one \Twig\Environment object on application initialization and use that to load templates. In some cases, it might be useful to have multiple environments side by side, with different configurations.

The typical way to configure Twig to load templates for an application looks roughly like this:

require_once '/path/to/vendor/autoload.php';

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader('/path/to/templates');
$twig = new \Twig\Environment($loader, [
    'cache' => '/path/to/compilation_cache',

This creates a template environment with a default configuration and a loader that looks up templates in the /path/to/templates/ directory. Different loaders are available and you can also write your own if you want to load templates from a database or other resources.


Notice that the second argument of the environment is an array of options. The cache option is a compilation cache directory, where Twig caches the compiled templates to avoid the parsing phase for sub-sequent requests. It is very different from the cache you might want to add for the evaluated templates. For such a need, you can use any available PHP cache library.

Rendering Templates

To load a template from a Twig environment, call the load() method which returns a \Twig\TemplateWrapper instance:

$template = $twig->load('index.html');

To render the template with some variables, call the render() method:

echo $template->render(['the' => 'variables', 'go' => 'here']);


The display() method is a shortcut to output the rendered template.

You can also load and render the template in one fell swoop:

echo $twig->render('index.html', ['the' => 'variables', 'go' => 'here']);

If a template defines blocks, they can be rendered individually via the renderBlock() call:

echo $template->renderBlock('block_name', ['the' => 'variables', 'go' => 'here']);

Environment Options

When creating a new \Twig\Environment instance, you can pass an array of options as the constructor second argument:

$twig = new \Twig\Environment($loader, ['debug' => true]);

The following options are available:

  • debug boolean

    When set to true, the generated templates have a __toString() method that you can use to display the generated nodes (default to false).

  • charset string (defaults to utf-8)

    The charset used by the templates.

  • cache string or false

    An absolute path where to store the compiled templates, or false to disable caching (which is the default).

  • auto_reload boolean

    When developing with Twig, it’s useful to recompile the template whenever the source code changes. If you don’t provide a value for the auto_reload option, it will be determined automatically based on the debug value.

  • strict_variables boolean

    If set to false, Twig will silently ignore invalid variables (variables and or attributes/methods that do not exist) and replace them with a null value. When set to true, Twig throws an exception instead (default to false).

  • autoescape string

    Sets the default auto-escaping strategy (name, html, js, css, url, html_attr, or a PHP callback that takes the template “filename” and returns the escaping strategy to use – the callback cannot be a function name to avoid collision with built-in escaping strategies); set it to false to disable auto-escaping. The name escaping strategy determines the escaping strategy to use for a template based on the template filename extension (this strategy does not incur any overhead at runtime as auto-escaping is done at compilation time.)

  • optimizations integer

    A flag that indicates which optimizations to apply (default to -1 – all optimizations are enabled; set it to 0 to disable).


Loaders are responsible for loading templates from a resource such as the file system.

Compilation Cache

All template loaders can cache the compiled templates on the filesystem for future reuse. It speeds up Twig a lot as templates are only compiled once.

Built-in Loaders

Here is a list of the built-in loaders:


\Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader loads templates from the file system. This loader can find templates in folders on the file system and is the preferred way to load them:

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader($templateDir);

It can also look for templates in an array of directories:

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader([$templateDir1, $templateDir2]);

With such a configuration, Twig will first look for templates in $templateDir1 and if they do not exist, it will fallback to look for them in the $templateDir2.

You can add or prepend paths via the addPath() and prependPath() methods:


The filesystem loader also supports namespaced templates. This allows to group your templates under different namespaces which have their own template paths.

When using the setPaths(), addPath(), and prependPath() methods, specify the namespace as the second argument (when not specified, these methods act on the “main” namespace):

$loader->addPath($templateDir, 'admin');

Namespaced templates can be accessed via the special @namespace_name/template_path notation:

$twig->render('@admin/index.html', []);

\Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader support absolute and relative paths. Using relative paths is preferred as it makes the cache keys independent of the project root directory (for instance, it allows warming the cache from a build server where the directory might be different from the one used on production servers):

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\FilesystemLoader('templates', getcwd().'/..');


When not passing the root path as a second argument, Twig uses getcwd() for relative paths.


\Twig\Loader\ArrayLoader loads a template from a PHP array. It is passed an array of strings bound to template names:

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\ArrayLoader([
    'index.html' => 'Hello {{ name }}!',
$twig = new \Twig\Environment($loader);

echo $twig->render('index.html', ['name' => 'Fabien']);

This loader is very useful for unit testing. It can also be used for small projects where storing all templates in a single PHP file might make sense.


When using the Array loader with a cache mechanism, you should know that a new cache key is generated each time a template content “changes” (the cache key being the source code of the template). If you don’t want to see your cache grows out of control, you need to take care of clearing the old cache file by yourself.


\Twig\Loader\ChainLoader delegates the loading of templates to other loaders:

$loader1 = new \Twig\Loader\ArrayLoader([
    'base.html' => '{% block content %}{% endblock %}',
$loader2 = new \Twig\Loader\ArrayLoader([
    'index.html' => '{% extends "base.html" %}{% block content %}Hello {{ name }}{% endblock %}',
    'base.html'  => 'Will never be loaded',

$loader = new \Twig\Loader\ChainLoader([$loader1, $loader2]);

$twig = new \Twig\Environment($loader);

When looking for a template, Twig tries each loader in turn and returns as soon as the template is found. When rendering the index.html template from the above example, Twig will load it with $loader2 but the base.html template will be loaded from $loader1.


You can also add loaders via the addLoader() method.

Create your own Loader

All loaders implement the \Twig\Loader\LoaderInterface:

interface \Twig\Loader\LoaderInterface
     * Returns the source context for a given template logical name.
     * @param string $name The template logical name
     * @return \Twig\Source
     * @throws \Twig\Error\LoaderError When $name is not found
    public function getSourceContext($name);

     * Gets the cache key to use for the cache for a given template name.
     * @param string $name The name of the template to load
     * @return string The cache key
     * @throws \Twig\Error\LoaderError When $name is not found
    public function getCacheKey($name);

     * Returns true if the template is still fresh.
     * @param string    $name The template name
     * @param timestamp $time The last modification time of the cached template
     * @return bool    true if the template is fresh, false otherwise
     * @throws \Twig\Error\LoaderError When $name is not found
    public function isFresh($name, $time);

     * Check if we have the source code of a template, given its name.
     * @param string $name The name of the template to check if we can load
     * @return bool    If the template source code is handled by this loader or not
    public function exists($name);

The isFresh() method must return true if the current cached template is still fresh, given the last modification time, or false otherwise.

The getSourceContext() method must return an instance of \Twig\Source.

Using Extensions

Twig extensions are packages that add new features to Twig. Register an extension via the addExtension() method:

$twig->addExtension(new \Twig\Extension\SandboxExtension());

Twig comes bundled with the following extensions:

  • TwigExtensionCoreExtension: Defines all the core features of Twig.
  • TwigExtensionDebugExtension: Defines the dump function to help debug template variables.
  • TwigExtensionEscaperExtension: Adds automatic output-escaping and the possibility to escape/unescape blocks of code.
  • TwigExtensionSandboxExtension: Adds a sandbox mode to the default Twig environment, making it safe to evaluate untrusted code.
  • TwigExtensionProfilerExtension: Enables the built-in Twig profiler.
  • TwigExtensionOptimizerExtension: Optimizes the node tree before compilation.
  • TwigExtensionStringLoaderExtension: Defines the template_from_string
    function to allow loading templates from string in a template.

The Core, Escaper, and Optimizer extensions are registered by default.

Built-in Extensions

This section describes the features added by the built-in extensions.


Read the chapter about extending Twig to learn how to create your own extensions.

Core Extension

The core extension defines all the core features of Twig:

Escaper Extension

The escaper extension adds automatic output escaping to Twig. It defines a tag, autoescape, and a filter, raw.

When creating the escaper extension, you can switch on or off the global output escaping strategy:

$escaper = new \Twig\Extension\EscaperExtension('html');

If set to html, all variables in templates are escaped (using the html escaping strategy), except those using the raw filter:

{{ article.to_html|raw }}

You can also change the escaping mode locally by using the autoescape tag:

{% autoescape 'html' %}
    {{ var }}
    {{ var|raw }}      {# var won't be escaped #}
    {{ var|escape }}   {# var won't be double-escaped #}
{% endautoescape %}


The autoescape tag has no effect on included files.

The escaping rules are implemented as follows:

  • Literals (integers, booleans, arrays, …) used in the template directly as variables or filter arguments are never automatically escaped:

    {{ "Twig<br/>" }} {# won't be escaped #}
    {% set text = "Twig<br/>" %}
    {{ text }} {# will be escaped #}
  • Expressions which the result is a literal or a variable marked safe are never automatically escaped:

    {{ foo ? "Twig<br/>" : "<br/>Twig" }} {# won't be escaped #}
    {% set text = "Twig<br/>" %}
    {{ true ? text : "<br/>Twig" }} {# will be escaped #}
    {{ false ? text : "<br/>Twig" }} {# won't be escaped #}
    {% set text = "Twig<br/>" %}
    {{ foo ? text|raw : "<br/>Twig" }} {# won't be escaped #}
  • Objects with a __toString method are converted to strings and escaped. You can mark some classes and/or interfaces as being safe for some strategies via EscaperExtension::addSafeClass():

    // mark object of class Foo as safe for the HTML strategy
    $escaper->addSafeClass('Foo', ['html']);
    // mark object of interface Foo as safe for the HTML strategy
    $escaper->addSafeClass('FooInterface', ['html']);
    // mark object of class Foo as safe for the HTML and JS strategies
    $escaper->addSafeClass('Foo', ['html', 'js']);
    // mark object of class Foo as safe for all strategies
    $escaper->addSafeClass('Foo', ['all']);
  • Escaping is applied before printing, after any other filter is applied:

    {{ var|upper }} {# is equivalent to {{ var|upper|escape }} #}
  • The raw filter should only be used at the end of the filter chain:

    {{ var|raw|upper }} {# will be escaped #}
    {{ var|upper|raw }} {# won't be escaped #}
  • Automatic escaping is not applied if the last filter in the chain is marked safe for the current context (e.g. html or js). escape and escape('html') are marked safe for HTML, escape('js') is marked safe for JavaScript, raw is marked safe for everything.

    {% autoescape 'js' %}
        {{ var|escape('html') }} {# will be escaped for HTML and JavaScript #}
        {{ var }} {# will be escaped for JavaScript #}
        {{ var|escape('js') }} {# won't be double-escaped #}
    {% endautoescape %}


Note that autoescaping has some limitations as escaping is applied on expressions after evaluation. For instance, when working with concatenation, {{ foo|raw ~ bar }} won’t give the expected result as escaping is applied on the result of the concatenation, not on the individual variables (so, the raw filter won’t have any effect here).

Sandbox Extension

The sandbox extension can be used to evaluate untrusted code. Access to unsafe attributes and methods is prohibited. The sandbox security is managed by a policy instance. By default, Twig comes with one policy class: \Twig\Sandbox\SecurityPolicy. This class allows you to white-list some tags, filters, properties, and methods:

$tags = ['if'];
$filters = ['upper'];
$methods = [
    'Article' => ['getTitle', 'getBody'],
$properties = [
    'Article' => ['title', 'body'],
$functions = ['range'];
$policy = new \Twig\Sandbox\SecurityPolicy($tags, $filters, $methods, $properties, $functions);

With the previous configuration, the security policy will only allow usage of the if tag, and the upper filter. Moreover, the templates will only be able to call the getTitle() and getBody() methods on Article objects, and the title and body public properties. Everything else won’t be allowed and will generate a \Twig\Sandbox\SecurityError exception.

The policy object is the first argument of the sandbox constructor:

$sandbox = new \Twig\Extension\SandboxExtension($policy);

By default, the sandbox mode is disabled and should be enabled when including untrusted template code by using the sandbox tag:

{% sandbox %}
    {% include 'user.html' %}
{% endsandbox %}

You can sandbox all templates by passing true as the second argument of the extension constructor:

$sandbox = new \Twig\Extension\SandboxExtension($policy, true);

Profiler Extension

The profiler extension enables a profiler for Twig templates; it should only be used on your development machines as it adds some overhead:

$profile = new \Twig\Profiler\Profile();
$twig->addExtension(new \Twig\Extension\ProfilerExtension($profile));

$dumper = new \Twig\Profiler\Dumper\TextDumper();
echo $dumper->dump($profile);

A profile contains information about time and memory consumption for template, block, and macro executions.

You can also dump the data in a compatible format:

$dumper = new \Twig\Profiler\Dumper\BlackfireDumper();
file_put_contents('/path/to/', $dumper->dump($profile));

Upload the profile to visualize it (create a free account first):

blackfire --slot=7 upload /path/to/

Optimizer Extension

The optimizer extension optimizes the node tree before compilation:

$twig->addExtension(new \Twig\Extension\OptimizerExtension());

By default, all optimizations are turned on. You can select the ones you want to enable by passing them to the constructor:

$optimizer = new \Twig\Extension\OptimizerExtension(\Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_FOR);


Twig supports the following optimizations:

  • \Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_ALL, enables all optimizations (this is the default value).
  • \Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_NONE, disables all optimizations. This reduces the compilation time, but it can increase the execution time and the consumed memory.
  • \Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_FOR, optimizes the for tag by removing the loop variable creation whenever possible.
  • \Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_RAW_FILTER, removes the raw filter whenever possible.
  • \Twig\NodeVisitor\OptimizerNodeVisitor::OPTIMIZE_VAR_ACCESS, simplifies the creation and access of variables in the compiled templates whenever possible.


Twig can throw exceptions:

  • \Twig\Error\Error: The base exception for all errors.
  • \Twig\Error\SyntaxError: Thrown to tell the user that there is a problem with the template syntax.
  • \Twig\Error\RuntimeError: Thrown when an error occurs at runtime (when a filter does not exist for instance).
  • \Twig\Error\LoaderError: Thrown when an error occurs during template loading.
  • \Twig\Sandbox\SecurityError: Thrown when an unallowed tag, filter, or method is called in a sandboxed template.
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