WebMake Documentation (version 2.4)

The <content> Tag

The <content> tag, along with the other similar content-defining tags like <contents>, <template> etc., is used as one of the basic building blocks of a WebMake file.

Essentially, you use it to wrap input, and give them a name, so that you can refer to them later in <out> blocks or other content items.

This tag has one required attribute: its name, which is used to substitute in that section's text, by inserting it in other sections or out tags in a curly-bracket reference, like so:


If you wish to define a number of content sections at once, they can be searched for and loaded en masse using the <contents> tag.

Every content item can have metadata associated with it. See the metadata documentation for details.

The following attributes are supported. These can also be set using the <attrdefault> tag.

This allows the user to define what format the content is in. This allows markup languages other than HTML to be used; webmake will convert to HTML format, or other output formats, as required using the HTML::WebMake::FormatConvert module. The default value is "text/html".
This will block any interpretation of content or URL references in the content item, until after it has been converted into HTML format. This is useful for POD documentation, which may be embedded inside a file containing other text; without "asis", the text would be scanned for content references before the POD converter stripped out the extraneous bits. The default value is "false".
Whether the content item should be mapped in a site map, or not. The default value is "true".
The name of the content item which is this content item's parent, in the site map.
Pre-process content items using a Perl function.
Whether or not this content item is the root of the site map. The default value is "false". (This cannot be used as a parameter to a tag that loads multiple content items, like the <contents> tag.)
Allows the text of the content item to be loaded from a given URL (remote content) or file in the filesystem. (Again, this is not usable from a tag that loads multiple items.)
How long a remote content item should be cached. (Again, this is not usable from a tag that loads multiple items.)

Using Remote Content

Content items can be loaded remotely, ie. via HTTP or FTP, by using a URL in the src attribute. These will be cached for as long as the update frequency updatefreq dictates, by default 1 hour. The update frequency is a string in this format:

[n days] [n hours] [n mins] [n secs]

So, for, example, 1 hour 20 seconds converts to 3620 seconds.


Using the preproc attribute, you can specify a block of perl code to execute over each content item's text. The content item's text is provided in the $_ variable. (Since the XML attribute format doesn't provide much room for perl code, your best bet is to call a function to do the work.)

This can be very handy. Here's some suggested uses:

  • multiple templates can be loaded from one HTML file; for example, if your designer has created a template for a "list page", with HTML for the page layout, a table, odd list lines, and even list lines, you can use just one template file as a src, and define multiple content items from it using different preproc functions and the scrape_xml() Perl code library function. The Scraped Templates page goes into more detail on how to use this.
  • If you combine this with an agreed format for "filler" text or variable references, then you can replace filler with valid content references on-the-fly, and avoid having to persuade the designer to understand how content refs work. For example, your designer could use the lorem ipsum text to indicate "main body text"; using a sub like this


you can convert that text into a reference to a content item called main_body.
  • you can convert raw formats to more friendly-looking presentation on the fly; for example, my blog at taint.org (view source) is updated through email, and those mails are stored as raw mails to the filesystem. WebMake converts them to HTML using EtText and a short preproc function which strips out email addresses for spam protection. (See example below)
  • sections of text can be loaded from third-party websites or files, regardless of the markup surrounding it. By using a perl sub like

		s/^.*?<!-- start of text table -->//gs;
		s/<!-- end of text table -->.*?$//gs;

you can strip off the unwanted parts of the file; in other words, HTML screen scraping. Again, the scrape_xml() Perl code library function is handy here.

Defining Content Items On-The-Fly

The <{set}> processing instruction can be used to define small pieces of content on the fly, from within other content or <out> sections.

In addition, Perl code can create content items using the set_content() function.

Using Content From Perl Code

Perl code can obtain the text of content items using the get_content() function, and can treat content items as whitespace-separated lists using get_list().

In addition, each content item has a range of properties and associated metadata; the get_content_object() method allows Perl code to retrieve an object of type HTML::WebMake::Content representing the content item.


  <content name="foo" format="text/html">
  <em>This is a test.</em>

  <content name="bar" format="text/et">
  Still Testing

  So is this!

  <content name="remote" format="image/png"

  <{perl sub mail_fmt {
      local ($_) = shift;
      s/\S+\@\S+/\(spam-protected\)/gs;		# remove email addrs
  ''; }>
  <contents src="raw" format="text/et"
	   name=".../*.mail" preproc="mail_fmt($_)" />

WebMake Documentation (version 2.4)
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