One template, many outputs


In gomplate v3.3.0, you can now use file.Write and tmpl.Exec to render multiple output files from a single input template. Read on to find out how…


When I first wrote gomplate, I started with the usual filter approach; a single input file (the template) was processed to produce a single output:

$ gomplate < input.tmpl > output.txt

This approach works well, but quite a lot can happen in a template, and when you need to produce many outputs, calling gomplate multiple times can be cumbersome.

So in gomplate v1.6.0, new support was added for processing directories of files:

$ gomplate --input-dir ./templates/ --output-dir ./out/

This is great for the case where the same number of outputs as inputs are desired, but another use-case that’s come up a few times is being able to produce multiple outputs from a single input template.

Consider a template like the following example:

{{ range $region := slice "AP" "EU" "US" -}}
Herein lies the {{ $region }} configuration...
{{ end -}}

If you render this with gomplate, you’ll get a single output with the “configuration” for each region contained within:

$ gomplate -f in
Herein lies the AP configuration...
Herein lies the EU configuration...
Herein lies the US configuration...

Obviously this is useful in lots of situations, and I personally use gomplate like this to create similarly repetitive configurations quite regularly.

But what about the case where each region/environment/whatever needs a differently-named configuration file? Before v3.3.0, the only way to accomplish this was to run gomplate multiple times, with different inputs.

Composing a solution

This has come up a few times in my own work, and when one of gomplate’s users recently asked how to do this, I knew it was time to make it work!

Now, the solution that I came up with is not necessarily the simplest, but I think it’s quite flexible, and will enable other use-cases I haven’t thought of. Instead of building a specific multi-output feature directly into gomplate, I decided to add two new functions, and address another issue at the same time.

The basic idea revolves around using a nested template and a loop that decides what to name output files, and writes them. Let’s look at an example:

{{ define "mytemplate" }}
Herein lies the {{ .region }} configuration...
{{ end -}}

{{- range $region := slice "AP" "EU" "US" -}}
{{- $ctx := dict "region" $region }}
{{- $outPath := printf "config_%s.txt" $region }}
{{- tmpl.Exec "mytemplate" $ctx | file.Write $outPath }}
{{- end -}}

When we run this, we can now see 3 output files:

$ gomplate -f in
$ ls
config_AP.txt  config_EU.txt  config_US.txt  in

To separate concerns a bit more, we can use external nested templates to split the template file into two: the actual template to render, and the loop to control output:


Herein lies the {{ .region }} configuration...


{{- range $region := slice "AP" "EU" "US" -}}
{{- $ctx := dict "region" $region }}
{{- $outPath := printf "config_%s.txt" $region }}
{{- tmpl.Exec "mytemplate" $ctx | file.Write $outPath }}
{{- end -}}
$ gomplate -t mytemplate=in -f render
$ ls
config_AP.txt  config_EU.txt  config_US.txt  in  render

Same result, with cleaner input!


The render template has effectively 3 parts:

  1. some sort of loop or loops to pick which data will go in which files
    • this is the range loop, using a simple slice for input
    • more complex use-cases would use a datasource instead
  2. some code to create a unique filename
    • in the above example, printf is used to produce a filename that contains the region
    • you can also use the filepath functions to build more complex paths, including directories
  3. tmpl.Exec to render the template with a given context, piping to file.Write to write to a file
    • building the context ($ctx above) is made slightly easier with the use of dict


Of course, this can all be accomplished with a mess of shell scripts that call gomplate multiple times, but besides keeping things a bit cleaner, this approach can lead to huge performance gains. I’ll let @rayjlinden, the author of the issue that inspired all this, provide the proof:

Wow. This is really cool. It makes my Dockerfile generation an order of magnitude faster. (I’m generating ~70 files in the time it previously took to generate about 3. Nice!

#485 (comment)


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