Treeplate is a set of xslt scripts for generating static websites. Authors write xhtml content by hand and provide a description of the site hierarchy. Treeplate generates the site, automatically fitting the content into boilerplate xhtml for

  • headers, including stylesheet, icon, and relation links,
  • footers, including author and last changed date,
  • a hierarchical menu bar without scripting, like the one at left, and,
  • a sitemap file for search engines.

Treeplate also adds alternating class attributes to table rows—class="row0", class="row1"—so that they can be coloured by a stylesheet if desired. There is an import feature for inserting generated content, like, for example, this manual page, and a feature for adding footnotes.1 The boilerplate generation makes it easy to experiment with specialized support for troublesome browser software without having to manually edit all pages. Similarly, site redesigns may only require changes to the stylesheet and automatically-generated elements.

If your (planned) website is predominantly static and you prefer to create it in a text editor but you want to avoid the tedium of copy-paste-modify for the common bits, then Treeplate could be for you!

This website was generated by Treeplate.


Treeplate is released under a BSD license. It may be used and modified without restriction but no guarantees or support are offered. Nevertheless, patches, problem reports, and suggestions for improvement (in keeping with the minimalist philosophy) are welcomed.

The current version is available for download: Treeplate 1.2.2 (20090422). It is intended for unix systems and requires a Bourne shell and xsltproc. It should also work with other xslt processors and only requires xslt 1.0, xpath 1.0, and the exsl:document extension.

The source code is kept at


treeplate, inputs: sitetree.xml, sitemaps.xml, outputs: sitemap.xml, sitepages.html
Figure 1: Source and destination files2

Treeplate requires these files and directories:

src Contains sitetree.xml and the content sitepage files.
dst Must replicate the directory structure of src. Contains any non-generated files, such as css style sheets, images, and pdf documents.
xsltsrc Contains the xslt scripts; makepage.xsl can be modified to change the boilerplate. This simple shell script transforms xml files in src into html files in dst.

The sitetree.xml file

The sitetree.xml file describes the hierarchical structure of a site. An edited extract from this website is:

<!DOCTYPE sitetree SYSTEM "sitetree.dtd">
    <prefix>Timothy Bourke - </prefix>

    <item homelink="yes" priority="1.0">

	<item directory="papers">

	<item changefreq="yearly">

    <item directory="software">


Two hierarchies are described: that of items as presented to visitors, and that of the organisation on disk. The latter may be simpler than the former and is expressed by the item directory attributes. The full list of item attributes is:

directory describes how the files are stored on disk.
inmenu if "no" the item is excluded from the navigation menu.
homelink "yes" marks the home page (for relation links).
sitemap if "no" the item is excluded from sitemap.xml.
changefreq inserted directly into sitemap.xml.

Each item may contain other items, and must contain two elements:

name Text used in titles and menus.
file Root name for the the source .xml and destination .html files. An optional extension attribute allows the destination file extension to be changed. An optional url attribute allows menu items to be directed elsewhere; a destination page is still generated. An optional rellinkprefix attribute is prefixed to relative site links from the generated page, which is occasionally useful for accounting for the url attribute's effects.

Several settings can be set by adding the elements below to an item, or to the sitetree itself, they are inherited by that branch of the hierarchy:

prefix Text inserted into the page title.
suffix Text inserted into the page title.
author Author name, with href attribute.
style Filename of a css stylesheet.
script Optional script which may contain a src attribute containing the url of a script file.
icon Filename of a page icon.
link Additional relation links, for instance for copyright and content, specified in a rel attribute; the element must contain a url.
keyword Multiple keywords can be specified, they are not inherited if the attribute inherit is "no". Non-inherited keywords can also be specified in the page source files.

The root sitetree element must contain rooturl, which is required to generate sitemap.xml. All other generated links are relative.

The source files

The source file for this page resembles:

<!DOCTYPE sitepage SYSTEM "sitepage.dtd">
    <description>Xslt scripts for generating a static website.</description>
    <lastmod>$LastChangedDate: 2008-06-06 12:50:53 +1000 (Fri, 06 Jun 2008) $</lastmod>
    <p>Treeplate is a set of xslt scripts for generating static websites.

The list of all possible sitepage elements:

title The page title. An inherited prefix or suffix can be ignored with, respectively, the attributes prefix="no" and suffix="no".
description The page description.
lastmod The last modified date for insertion into the footer. The $ signs, from subversion tags, are removed if present.
keyword Associated keyword. Multiple keyword elements may be given. They are combined with the inherited keywords.
author Overrides the inherited author attribute. An href attribute must be given.
prepage Optional text for insertion before the opening html element.
header Optional additional elements for insertion into the destination head. An optional charset attribute allows a charset other than UTF-8 to be specified.
style Optional filename of a page-specific css stylesheet.
script Optional page-specific script. It may contain a src attribute containing the url of a script file.
navbar Optionally construct a navigation bar on each page using the given text as the first label. A class attribute is permitted.
content Xhtml content for insertion into the generated page.
  • The content is usually wrapped in a div with id="main", but the id value can be overridden with a mainid attribute.
  • The footer="no" attribute will disable the addition of a page footer.
  • A class attribute is added to tr elements, as described above, if they do not already have one.
  • The content may contain import tags with an href attribute, relative to the source file, to insert generated content.
  • The content may contain footnote tags containing inline html elements. Footnotes are replaced with a link to the full text.
postpage Optional text for insertion after the closing html element.

Sometimes links change when a website is rearranged. Redirection pages can be generated by giving title and redirect elements only. The latter must have a single href attribute containing the updated url.


Document Type Definitions are provided for the sitetree and sitepage files, they rely on the modular xhtml 1.0 definitions, but validation is disabled in by default. It can be enabled by removing the --novalid option from the call to xsltproc.

  1. Like this one!
  2. Figure 1 uses elements from Image:XSLT en.svg by Dreftymac. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.