Handlebars is one of Javascript’s (JS) templating engines that helps create HTML pages that are more dynamic. Templating engines are used to simplify the updating of the browser as data changes. They work by separating the business logic and other code so that the dynamic application’s structure is improved. Handlebars, in particular, is an extension of another templating engine, Mustache. It improves on Mustache by adding more features which include minimal logic and helpers in the code.

What is Handlebars?

This client-side templating engine works with JavaScript frameworks and is one of the most popular of its kind. It also has an active and supportive community. So what is it actually used for when creating web applications?

Templating engines are used for creating JavaScript applications to keep the HTML and JS separate so they can be managed and updated more easily.

Here is how it works:

  1. Handlebars compilers take their expressions and HTML and convert them into a JS function.
  2. The JS function takes the data or object and returns an HTML string with the values of the object embedded in the HTML.
  3. The HTML string with the object’s properties is then inserted into the webpage.

Why is Handlebars Useful?

As far as templating frameworks go, Handlebars is definitely the preferred choice when working with JS. Here are some reasons why you should choose to learn this engine:

  • Integrates with Javascript and HTML – It is designed to work with JavaScript frameworks and HTML pages.
  • It’s faster than most templating engines – Since Handlebars acts as a compiler that changes templates into JavaScript functions, it is faster than other similar templating engines.
  • It is great for specific types of web applications – Interactive and responsive applications work well with this engine. Pages that will be updated regularly or have multiple views also benefit from use of this technology.
  • This is compatible with Mustache templates – Since it is an extension of Mustache, Handlebars can easily convert Mustache templates into Handlebars so templates can be used with the added functions.
  • It is widely used with JS frameworks – Meteor.js, Ember.js, and Derby.js all use or are based on Handlebars and are becoming more widely used. If you want to work with these frameworks, this is a helpful templating engine to know.
  • It can create cleaner code – HTML can be generated separately from the rest of the JavaScript code. This way HTML can be managed easier while the JavaScript stays cleaner since HTML is not included.

How to Learn Handlebars

There are many tutorials, like this one by sitepoint that can help you learn how to write and implement Handlebars. Want a more structured learning environment? Bootcamps are geared towards special skills like this one or can include this skill in their curriculums for career pathways such as full-stack developers and front-end developers. As more JS frameworks that utilize this skill continue to gain popularity, adding this to your toolbox will only be beneficial to your career.

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