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Handlebars.js vs Mustache: What are the differences?


Handlebars.js and Mustache are both popular templating languages that allow developers to generate HTML dynamically. While they share similarities, there are several key differences between the two.

1. Expressiveness:

Handlebars.js is more expressive than Mustache, offering additional features such as helpers, partials, and block expressions. Helpers allow developers to define custom functions that can be used to modify or manipulate data before rendering. Partial templates enable the reuse of common code snippets across multiple templates. Block expressions provide conditional rendering and looping capabilities. In contrast, Mustache focuses on simplicity and does not provide these advanced features.

2. Context Sensitivity:

Handlebars.js has a context-sensitive template evaluation, which means that variables within templates are looked up and resolved within the current data context. This makes it easier to work with complex nested data structures as the template can automatically traverse the data hierarchy. In contrast, Mustache treats variables as strict matches, and if the variable does not exist in the current context, it will not be resolved.

3. Conditional Rendering:

Handlebars.js offers more advanced conditional rendering capabilities compared to Mustache. It provides if-else and unless statements, allowing developers to conditionally render content based on the data values. Mustache, on the other hand, only supports truthy and falsy checks, making it less flexible for complex conditional logic.

4. Customization and Extensibility:

Handlebars.js allows developers to extend the templating language by creating custom helpers and partials. This makes it easier to customize and add functionality to templates based on specific requirements. Mustache, however, is designed to be a minimalistic and lightweight templating language, limiting the extent of customization and extensibility.

5. White Space Handling:

Handlebars.js has built-in white space handling, which means that leading and trailing white spaces are automatically trimmed from template variables and block expressions. This can be useful for maintaining consistent formatting in HTML output. Mustache, on the other hand, does not perform any automatic white space trimming, requiring developers to manually handle white space issues if needed.

6. Language Support:

Handlebars.js supports additional programming languages such as JavaScript, Java, and Ruby, providing flexibility to developers working in different language ecosystems. Mustache, on the other hand, focuses primarily on JavaScript and is less compatible with other programming languages.

In summary, Handlebars.js offers more expressive features, context sensitivity, advanced conditional rendering, customization options, built-in white space handling, and broader language support compared to Mustache. However, Mustache is simpler and more lightweight, making it a good choice for projects that require minimalistic templating.

Advice on Handlebars.js and Mustache
Asad Gilani
Software Engineer at Lisec Automation · | 5 upvotes · 211.7K views
Needs advice

@All: I am searching for the best template engine for .NET. I started looking into several template engines, including the Dotliquid, Handlebars.js, Scriban, and Razorlight. I found handlebar a bit difficult to use when using the loops and condition because you need to register for helper first. DotLiquid and Scriban were easy to use and in Razorlight I did not find the example for loops.

Can you please suggest which template engine is best suited for the use of conditional/list and looping and why? Or if anybody could provide me a resource or link where I can compare which is best?

Thanks In Advance

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Replies (1)
Josh Lind

I like Handlebars, it's very mature... some would say-- outdated.

Handlebars loops are done via {{#each myList}}. Read the docs!

Remember, don't put logic in your templates! Keep this layer simple. Sorry to hear you have to use dotNet.

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Pros of Handlebars.js
Pros of Mustache
  • 106
  • 76
    Great templating language
  • 50
    Open source
  • 36
  • 20
    Integrates well into any codebase
  • 10
    Easy to create helper methods for complex scenarios
  • 7
    Created by Yehuda Katz
  • 2
    Easy For Fornt End Developers,learn backend
  • 1
  • 29
    Dead simple templating
  • 12
    Open source
  • 8
  • 1
    Support in lots of languages

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What is Handlebars.js?

Handlebars.js is an extension to the Mustache templating language created by Chris Wanstrath. Handlebars.js and Mustache are both logicless templating languages that keep the view and the code separated like we all know they should be.

What is Mustache?

Mustache is a logic-less template syntax. It can be used for HTML, config files, source code - anything. It works by expanding tags in a template using values provided in a hash or object. We call it "logic-less" because there are no if statements, else clauses, or for loops. Instead there are only tags. Some tags are replaced with a value, some nothing, and others a series of values.

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What are some alternatives to Handlebars.js and Mustache?
AngularJS lets you write client-side web applications as if you had a smarter browser. It lets you use good old HTML (or HAML, Jade and friends!) as your template language and lets you extend HTML’s syntax to express your application’s components clearly and succinctly. It automatically synchronizes data from your UI (view) with your JavaScript objects (model) through 2-way data binding.
Lots of people use React as the V in MVC. Since React makes no assumptions about the rest of your technology stack, it's easy to try it out on a small feature in an existing project.
A JavaScript library that provides a whole mess of useful functional programming helpers without extending any built-in objects.
It is a fastest and concise javascript template engine for Node.js and browsers. It was created in search of the fastest and concise JavaScript templating function with emphasis on performance under V8 and Node.js. It shows great performance for both Node.js and browsers.
It is a library for building interactive web interfaces. It provides data-reactive components with a simple and flexible API.
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