Smarty template paths

You may or may not know that I like boardgames. I like playing them. I like organizing them. I like tracking what I’ve played recently and what needs to be played again. One of those games is called “Advanced Squad Leader” (ASL). Honestly, it’s so big it could be called a boardgame life style. I don’t have enough time to play it regularly. All I can do is try to stay current with parts like modules, game boards and game scenarios.

Many years ago, I started writing a web application that would help me track all the parts that came with ASL. (It’s that big.) Game scenarios come with game modules and also come separately in scenario packs and magazines. I would frequently run into this situation: I find a game scenario that looks interesting, but do I own all the parts needed? The web app was supposed to supply that information.

I remember starting on this project back when I felt Dreamweaver was limiting my development as a programmer (2006?) At that time, I was impressed with Smarty as a PHP template engine. Smarty 2 became Smarty 3 eventually. Composer allowed me to load the Smarty libraries as a vendor module. I started using Bootstrap 3 (4 coming out of beta soon) to handle css design work that I did not want to do.

The web app has sections where the user can look up specifics about the game set owned, among other things. There is an admin section in the site that was supposed to handle updates to boards, modules, scenarios and overlays. In the refactored version, I built a admin section that was supposed to be a landing page for a successful administrator login. Unfortunately, it did not work.

I had problems displaying the associated Smarty template file for a page that was not on the top level, but inside a directory on the top level. It did not matter which smarty template file was tried with the new admin page. It would not display.  Aha!

It’s not a problem with a specific template file, but a larger issue with paths, somehow. I went as far as giving an absolute path to the Smarty template engine for the correct template file, but … (new problem) I was having trouble writing a compiled template file. Aha! Another clue.

It turns out that I was using relative paths in one of my include files that described where to find the Smarty template directories. Once I fixed the paths and made them absolute using $_SERVER[‘DOCUMENT_ROOT’], the problems went away. That was a nice problem to track down on a weekend of coding.

I’m not sure I’ll stick with the Smarty template library going forward. Twig (associated with Symfony) and Blade (associated with Laravel) look useful to know. Twig reminds me of Jinja2, so that would be an easier transition. I can still make Smarty work, though, even though the docs style pages remind me of 2006.