Special Variable Reference

Special variables are variables defined by the FreeMarker engine itself. To access them, you use the .variable_name syntax. For example, you can't write simply version; you have to write .version.

Note:

As of FreeMarker 2.3.23, you can use camel case instead of snake case for special variable names, like dataModel instead of data_model. But know that then withing the same template, FreeMarker will enforce the usage of camel case for all identifiers that are part of the template language (user defined names are not affected).

The supported special variables are:

  • current_template_name: The name of the template where we are now (available since FreeMarker 2.3.23). This can be missing (null) if the template was created on-the-fly in Java (via new Template(null, ...)), rather than loaded from a backing store by name (via cfg.getTemplate(name, ...)). Migration notice: If you replace the deprecated template_name with this, note that the later is a 0-length string instead of missing (null) if the template has no name, so you might want to write current_template_name!'' in legacy templates.
  • data_model: A hash that you can use to access the data-model directly. That is, variables you did with global directive are not visible here.
  • error (available since FreeMarker 2.3.1): This variable accessible in the body of the recover directive, where it stores the error message of the error we recover from.
  • globals: A hash that you can use to access the globally accessible variables: the data-model and the variables created with global directive. Note that variables created with assign or macro are not globals, thus they never hide the variables when you use globals.
  • lang: Returns the language part of the current value of the locale setting. For example if .locale is en_US, then .lang is en.
  • locale: Returns the current value of the locale setting. This is a string, for example en_US. For more information about locale strings see the setting directive.
  • locale_object (available since FreeMarker 2.3.21): Returns the current value of the locale setting as a java.util.Locale object, rather than as a string. This meant to be used instead of .locale when you want to pass it as a java.util.Locale object to a Java method. (The Locale object will be wrapped according the object_wrapper setting value. Whether you can actually pass this value to a Java method as a Locale object depends on the object wrapper, but an object wrapper that let you call Java methods directly is very unlikely to not support that.)
  • locals: A hash that you can use to access the local variables (the variables created with the local directive, and the parameters of macro).
  • main: A hash that you can use to access the main namespace. Note that global variables like the variables of data-model are not visible through this hash.
  • main_template_name: The name of the top level template (available since FreeMarker 2.3.23). (In Java, this is the template for which Template.process was called.) This can be missing (null) if the template was created on-the-fly in Java (via new Template(null, ...)), rather than loaded from a backing store by name (via cfg.getTemplate(name, ...)). Migration notice: If you replace the deprecated template_name with this, note that the later is a 0-length string instead of missing (null) if the template has no name, so you might want to write main_template_name!'' in legacy templates.
  • namespace: A hash that you can use to access the current namespace. Note that global variables like the variables of data-model are not visible through this hash.
  • node (alias current_node for historical reasons): The node you are currently processing with the visitor pattern (i.e. with the visit, recurse, ...etc. directives). Also, it initially stores the root node when you use the FreeMarker XML Ant task.
  • now: Returns the current date-time. Usage examples: "Page generated: ${.now}", "Today is ${.now?date}", "The current time is ${.now?time}".
  • output_encoding (available since FreeMarker 2.3.1): Returns the name of the current output charset. This special variable is not existent if the framework that encapsulates FreeMarker doesn't specify the output charset for FreeMarker. (Programmers can read more about charset issues here...)
  • template_name: Don't use it, because its behavior is strange when macros are used; use current_template_name or main_template_name instead (see migration notices there). Gives the name of the main template, or if we are running an included or imported template, the name of that template. When calling macros, it becomes rather confusing: the macro call won't change the value of this special variable, but when nested is called, it changes it to the name of the template that belongs to the current namespace. (Available since FreeMarker 2.3.14.)
  • url_escaping_charset (available since FreeMarker 2.3.1): If exists, it stores the name of the charset that should be used for URL escaping. If this variable doesn't exist that means that nobody has specified what charset should be used for URL encoding yet. In this case the url built-in uses the charset specified by the output_encoding special variable for URL encoding; custom mechanism may follow the same logic. (Programmers can read more about charset issues here...)
  • vars: Expression .vars.foo returns the same variable as expression foo. It's useful if for some reasons you have to use square bracket syntax, since that works only for hash sub variables, so you need an artificial parent hash. For example, to read a top-level variable that has a strange name that would confuse FreeMarker, you can write .vars["A strange name!"]. Or, to access a top-level variable with dynamic name given with variable varName you can write .vars[varName]. Note that the hash returned by .vars does not support ?keys and ?values.
  • version: Returns the FreeMarker version number as string, for example 2.2.8. This can be used to check which FreeMarker version does your application use, but note that this special variable does not exist prior to the 2.3.0 or 2.2.8 versions. The version number of non-final releases contains dash and further info after the numbers, like in 2.3.21-nightly_20140726T151800Z.