Seldom used and expert built-ins

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These are the built-ins that normally you should not use, but in exceptional situations (debugging, advanced macros) they can be useful. If you need to use these in your normal page templates, you may revisit the data-model so you don't need to use these.

byte, double, float, int, long, short

Returns a SimpleNumber which contains the same value as the original variable, but uses java.lang.Type for the internal representation of the value. This is useful if a method is overloaded, or if a TemplateModel unwrapper has problem with automatically choosing the suitable java.lang.* type. Note that since version 2.3.9 the unwrapper has been improved substantially, so you will hardly ever need to use these built-ins to convert between numerical types, except for resolving ambiguity in overloaded method invocation.

The long built-in can also be used with date, time and date-time values to get the value as java.util.Date.getTime() would return. This is useful if you have to call a Java methods that expect a timestamp as a long. This conversion is not automatic.

number_to_date, number_to_time, number_to_datetime

These are used to convert a number (usually a Java long) to a date, time or date-time, respectively. This does them same as new java.util.Date(long) in Java, that is, the number is interpreted as the milliseconds passed since the epoch. The number can be anything and of any type as far as its value fits into a long. If the number isn't a whole number, it will be rounded to whole with half-up rule. This conversion is not automatic.



The output will be something like this (depending on the current locale and time zone):

May 16, 2011 3:47:55 PM
May 16, 2011
3:47:55 PM  


This built-in evaluates a string as an FTL expression. For example "1+2"?eval returns number 3.


It is true if the variable exists (and isn't Java null) and is not ``empty'', otherwise it is false. The meaning of ``empty'' depends on the concrete case. This follows intuitive common-sense ideas. The following are empty: a string with 0 length, sequence or hash with no subvariables, a collection which has passed the last element. If the value is not a string or sequence or hash or collection, then it counts as non-empty if it's a number or a date or a boolean (e.g. 0 and false are not empty), otherwise it counts as empty. Note that when your data-model implements multiple template model interfaces you may get unexpected results. However, when in doubt you can use always use expr!?size > 0 or expr!?length > 0 instead of expr?has_content.

This buit-in is exceptional in that you can use the parentheses trick like with the default value operator. That is, you can write both product.color?has_content and (product.color)?has_content. The first doesn't handle the case when product is missing, the last does.


This built-in interprets a string as a FTL template, and returns an user-defined directive that - when applied to any block - executes the template just as if it was included at that point. Example:

<#assign x=["a", "b", "c"]>
<#assign templateSource = r"<#list x as y>${y}</#list>">
<#-- Note: That r was needed so that the ${y} is not interpreted above -->
<#assign inlineTemplate = templateSource?interpret>
<@inlineTemplate />  

The output:


As you can see, inlineTemplate is a user-defined directive that, when executed, runs the template that was generated on-the-fly using the interpret.

You can also apply this built-in to a two-element sequence. In this case the first element of the sequence is the template source, and the second element is a name for the inline template. It can be useful to give an explicit name to the inline template for debugging purposes. So, you could have written:

<#assign inlineTemplate = [templateSource, "myInlineTemplate"]?interpret>  

as well in the above template. Note that giving the inline template a name has no immediate effect - it is only useful as an extra bit of information if you get an error report.


These built-ins check the type of a variable, and returns true or false depending on the type. The list of is_... built-ins:

Built-in Returns true if the value is a ...
is_string string
is_number number
is_boolean boolean
is_date date (all types: date-only, time-only and date-time)
is_method method
is_transform transform
is_macro macro or function (yes, also for function; a historical glitch)
is_hash hash
is_hash_ex extended hash (i.e. supports ?keys and ?values)
is_sequence sequence
is_collection collection
is_enumerable sequence or collection
is_indexable sequence
is_directive Whatever kind of directive (for example a macro, or TemplateDirectiveModel, TemplateTransformModel, etc.), or function (a historical glitch)
is_node node


This built-in returns the namespace (i.e. the ``gate'' hash to the namespace) associated with a macro or function variable. You can use it with macros and functions only.


This is to create a variable of a certain TemplateModel implementation.

On the left side of ? you specify a string, the full-qualified class name of a TemplateModel implementation. The result is a method variable that calls the constructor, and returns the new variable.


<#-- Creates an user-defined directive be calling the parameterless constructor of the class -->
<#assign word_wrapp = "com.acmee.freemarker.WordWrapperDirective"?new()>
<#-- Creates an user-defined directive be calling the constructor with one numerical argument -->
<#assign word_wrapp_narrow = "com.acmee.freemarker.WordWrapperDirective"?new(40)>  

For more information about how the constructor parameters are unwrapped and how overloaded constructor is chosen, read: Programmer's Guide/Miscellaneous/Bean wrapper

This built-in can be a security concern because the template author can create arbitrary Java objects and then use them, as far as they implement TemplateModel. Also the template author can trigger static initialization for classes that don't even implement TemplateModel. You can (since 2.3.17) restrict the classes accessible with this built-in using Configuration.setNewBuiltinClassResolver(TemplateClassResolver) or the new_builtin_class_resolver setting. See the Java API docs for more information. If you are allowing not-so-much-trusted users to upload templates then you should definitely look into this topic.

FreeMarker Manual -- For FreeMarker 2.3.20
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