Overview of This Lesson

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Thymeleaf fragments allow you to make re-usable segments of Thymeleaf code. These are very similar to "includes" that you might be familiar with in web development. In this lesson we'll learn how to create and use fragments, and even how to pass values into fragments and how do make fragments appear conditionally.


Before doing this lesson, make sure you've completed all the Thymeleaf lessons:


Why do We Need Thymeleaf Fragments?

If you've taken the web programming course, you've probably learned how to use includes or some other technique to limit the amount of repetitive code you have to write. Includes allow you to take a chunk of HTML code that you want to use on multiple pages and store it in a separate file, and then INCLUDE that file into each page. Then, if you need to edit the code, you only have to edit one file and it updates all of the pages automatically.

I actually have one of these for the topics menu in the top-left corner of each tutorial page. Mine is done with AJAX functions that retrieve a file with the menu content and then loads it into the menu container. That way, when I want to add a new item to the course, I simply add a link to that one menu file: I don't have to update every single tutorial page.

Having repetitive code on two or more pages is not good design: it makes your application more prone to error and it makes maintenance more tedious and time-consuming. If you want to change something in a header, footer, or menu, you have to make that change on every single page.

We can do "includes" in Thymeleaf by using Thymeleaf fragments. A fragment is a chunk of HTML and Thymeleaf code that you assign a unique name to, and then you can include that code by its name anywhere in any number of HTML/Thymeleaf pages. You should use Thymeleaf fragments anywhere you find yourself copying and pasting HTML/Thymeleaf code, even if you end up changing the code a little bit on different pages: you can pass values to a Thymeleaf fragment, too!

To create Thymeleaf fragments, you first have to create one or more HTML/Thymeleaf pages/files with the blocks of code you want to re-use. Unlike regular includes, you can actually place more than one fragment of code in a single file! In fact, it's quite common to organize fragments into different HTML files according to their content or purpose:

an example of fragment organisation
An example of how you might organise your Thymeleaf fragments

In this example, the main.html file contains fragments for the various headers, footers, and sidebars used on the application's pages and the navigation.html file contains fragments for the different menus, such as the product categories menu, the main menu displayed on each page, the user account menu displayed on the user account pages, etc. Lastly, the shop.html file contains fragments that are used in the online shop component of the application, which might include fragments that display product information or the user's shopping cart.

The cool thing about Thymeleaf that's different from other include technologies is that the file or files that contain the re-usable fragments can still contain the minimal HTML content like DOCTYPE, HTML, HEAD, BODY, etc. This means you can use these fragment files as regular pages. For example, you could use a main index page to contain the header and footer fragments that are used on all your other pages, instead of creating a separate fragment page. That can be handy with smaller projects, but with larger projects we do prefer to place fragments in a separate directory in their own files to make it easier to find specific fragments when they need to be edited.

an index.htm file contains fragments that are used in other pages
You could define fragments in any page and re-use those fragments inside other pages

In our example projects, we'll be creating separate fragment pages to make it easier to understand how fragments work.

Defining and Using Fragments

To define a block of code as a re-usable fragment, you use the th:fragment attribute, and assign the attribute a unique name for this fragment. The name is important, because later in your pages, you're going to use this name to identify which fragment you want to insert.

The th:fragment attribute goes inside the main element of the fragment. You assign th:fragment the name you want to assign to this fragment. This defines a new Thymeleaf fragment with a specific name. For example:

<header th:fragment="header"><h1>My Header</h1></header>

The code above defines a fragment with the name "header" and it includes the HTML code for a level-1 heading element that contains the content "My Header", which is nested inside a HEADER element.

To use a fragment, you have three options, although the third one is deprecated: I only mention it in case you see it in older code, but don't actually use it to create new code:

The syntax for the th:replace and th:insert value is as follows:

directory/filename :: fragmentName
directory/filename.html :: fragmentName

For example, if you have a fragment file called main.html inside the /fragments directory of your /templates, then you could use any fragment inside main.html as:

fragments/main.html :: fragmentName

So if you had a fragment inside main.html defined as

<header th:fragment="header"><h1>My Header</h1></header>

Then you would use this fragment with one of the following:

th:replace="fragments/main :: header"
th:replace="fragments/main.html :: header"
th:insert="fragments/main :: header"
th:insert="fragments/main.html :: header"


Create a fragments directory inside /templates and add an HTML file inside /fragments called main.html. Inside main.html, add two fragments:

  1. A header fragment that contains a HEADER element with a level-1 heading that contains your first and last name and a level-2 heading that contains the page title (e.g. "Testing Thymeleaf Fragments").
  2. A footer fragment that contains a FOOTER element with your name and copyright information inside the ADDRESS element (see your notes from Web 1 class)

Add an index.html page to your /templates and add both fragments: try using both a th:insert and a th:replace for each fragment so you can see the difference.

Add a handler method to a controller that loads your index page.

When you test your application, view the page source and compare th:insert with th:replace.

Fragment Parameters

You can pass values to fragments, making your fragments much more reusable. For example, perhaps you might want to use the header fragment on several pages, but each page has a different title: you would want to pass the title into the fragment and then use that title value inside your level-2 heading.

First, you would need a parameter variable to hold the value you'd like to pass into the fragment. This is very simple: you just create a parameter and add it inside parentheses with the fragment name (as if the fragment name were a method). Inside the fragment, you use the parameter's value by using a normal Thymeleaf variable expression:

<div th:fragment="doubleNum(value)"
th:text="${value * 2}"></div>

If you have more than one value you want to pass in, just separate each parameter with a comma.

<div th:fragment="multiply(op1, op2)"
th:text="${op1 * op2}"></div>

To pass the value into the fragment, you add it to the th:replace or th:insert value in a similar manner:

<div th:replace="fragments/main.html :: doubleNum(25)"></div>
<div th:insert="fragments/main.html :: doubleNum(25)"><div>

You can also pass in Thymeleaf variables and expressions:

<div th:replace="fragments/main.html :: doubleNum(${myValue})"></div>
<div th:insert="fragments/main.html :: doubleNum(${myValue})"><div>

Of course, you can do this with multiple values, too:

<div th:replace="fragments/main.html :: multiply(25, ${myValue})">
<div th:insert="fragments/main.html :: multiply(25, ${myValue})">

You don't necessarily have to pass the values in order, if you include the name of the parameter variable:

<!-- main.html -->
<div th:fragment="divide(op1, op2)" th:text="${op1 / op2}">

<!-- index.html -->
<div th:replace="fragments/main.html :: divide(op2=4, op1=3"></div>
<div th:insert="fragments/main.html :: divide(op2=4, op1=3"></div>

Fragment Conditions

You can control how/when fragments display by using assertions and expressions in your fragments. For example, you can have a fragment display when a certain set of conditions are true or you can display one of a choice of fragments based on certain conditions.


You can add th:assert to a fragment to specify a comma-delimited list of boolean expressions that must be true in order to render the fragment. If any one of the expressions is false, then a TemplateAssertionException is thrown saying that the assertion isn't valid.

<div th:fragment="divide(op1, op2)" th:assert="${op2 != 0}">
<span th:text="${op1 / op2}"><span>

In this example I had to put the divsion expression inside a SPAN element instead of the div's th:text. The th:text will evaluate before the th:assert, so it will do the divide-by-0 before it has a chance to test the assertion. You'll still get an exception, but it will be the divide-by-0 exception, which isn't what we want. By putting the actual division operation inside a SPAN that's nested inside the DIV, the assertion will execute first before any elements nested inside the DIV are rendered (and therefor, before any of the nested elements' expressions are evaluated).

You can separate multiple assertions with a comma, but they must all be true, otherwise the exception is thrown.

th:assert="${!#strings.isEmpty(title)}, ${number > 0}"

Fragment Expressions

You can use a fragment expression ~{} with a conditional operator to display different fragments under certain conditions:

<div th:replace="${#lists.isEmpty(productList) 
? ~{fragments/shop.html :: noProductsMsg} 
: ~{fragments/shop.html :: productTable}"></div>

In this example, the productTable fragment is used only if the productList is not empty, otherwise the noProductsMsgs fragment is displayed. The two fragments in this example don't even have to be in the same file:

<div th:replace="${#lists.isEmpty(productList) 
? ~{fragments/errors.html :: noProductsMsg} 
: ~{fragments/shop.html :: productTable}"></div>


1. Create a navigation element that contains a set of links that a web site might have as a menu for the following pages (you can create basic html pages for each link so you can test them out, just put an appropriate heading on each one):

Create a single fragment that displays the navigation menu so that it can be used on each of the four pages. Each page should display the same menu fragment without it's own link. For example, the main index page should not display the link to the main index page, and the help/index.html page should not display the link to the help page.

Use the navigation fragment in each of your four pages.

2. Add the Players and Teams beans to your project. Add code in the handler method that instantiates a player object and a team object for the team that they're on.

Create a fragment that displays all the player and team information in a nicely formatted way. Pass the fragment the player object and the team object you stored in the model. Use the fragment in your main index page.

formatted player and team information
Formatted Player and Team Output

Modify the controller to add a list of players, and add another fragment that accepts the list of players and displays the list of player data in a formatted table. Use the fragment in your main index page.

formatted list of players in a table
Formatted List of Players

3. Modify one of your previous projects: use a Thymeleaf fragment to display the table of data (e.g. all the players, all the inventory items, etc).