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How to Extend Thymeleaf with dialects

Yusra Masood

While working with a Thymeleaf application, we can easily extend the functionality of its template engine using Dialects. The process is simple:

  • create a dialect
  • add it to the template engine
  • we’ll be able to make use of it.

Features of a dialect

A dialect has the following three important features:

  1. Processing logic: This logic is specified via processors that apply to either tags or their attributes.
  2. Preprocessing and Postprocessing logic: This kind of logic is specified via pre-processors or post-processors that are applied before or after the actually processing takes place, respectively.
  3. Expression objects: This logic is required in Thymeleaf Standard Expressions and applied to perform specialized operations.

Note: These features are optional. A dialect can only specify some of them.

Creating a dialect

For this example, let’s suppose we are working on a Spring MVC and Thymeleaf application. In this case, we would need to create a dialect that gives the following output:

Good Morning, John!

Where “John” is the logged-in username.

We can say good morning to whoever we want like this:

<p morning:sayto="${username}"> Morning! </p>

Let’s understand what each term means here:

Creating the processor

Let’s create an attribute processor, that will be triggered by a specific attribute in such open tag morning:sayto. We will extend a useful abstract class, AbstractAttributeTagProcessor, that will give us most of the class infrastructure we need:

public class SayToAttributeTagProcessor extends AbstractAttributeTagProcessor {

    private static final String ATTR_NAME = "sayto";
    private static final int PRECEDENCE = 10000;

    public SayToAttributeTagProcessor(final String dialectPrefix) {
            TemplateMode.HTML, // This processor will apply only to HTML mode
            dialectPrefix,     // Prefix to be applied to name for matching (morning)
            null,              // No tag name: match any tag name
            false,             // No prefix to be applied to tag name
            ATTR_NAME,         // Name of the attribute that will be matched (sayto)
            true,              // Apply dialect prefix to attribute name
            PRECEDENCE,        // Precedence (inside dialect's precedence)
            true);             // Remove the matched attribute afterwards
    protected void doProcess(
            final ITemplateContext context, final IProcessableElementTag tag,
            final AttributeName attributeName, final String attributeValue,
            final IElementTagStructureHandler structureHandler) {

                "Good Morning, " + HtmlEscape.escapeHtml5(attributeValue) + "!", false);


Creating the dialect class

Next, we’ll create a dialect class, which will tell the Thymeleaf engine that our attribute processor is available to be used. We will then extend the abstract class AbstractProcessorDialect:

public class MorningDialect extends AbstractProcessorDialect {

    public MorningDialect() {
                "Morning Dialect",    // Dialect name
                "morning",            // Dialect prefix (morning:*)
                1000);              // Dialect precedence
     * Initialize the dialect's processors.
     * It's important to pass the dialect prefix here too
    public Set<IProcessor> getProcessors(final String dialectPrefix) {
        final Set<IProcessor> processors = new HashSet<IProcessor>();
        processors.add(new SayToAttributeTagProcessor(dialectPrefix));
        return processors;

Using the dialect

In the end, we’ll just add the dialect to our templateEngine bean during configuration using the addDialect method:

public SpringTemplateEngine templateEngine(){
    SpringTemplateEngine templateEngine = new SpringTemplateEngine();
    templateEngine.addDialect(new MorningDialect());
    return templateEngine;

And now our new attribute will work fine and give us the desired results.




Yusra Masood
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