Myths, FAQ and acknowledgements

This section contains a few remarks and answers to questions you may still have.

Myth: "TypoScript is a scripting language"

This is misleading to say since you will think that TypoScript is like PHP or JavaScript while it is not. From the previous pages you have learned that TypoScript strictly speaking is just a syntax. However when the TypoScript syntax is applied to create TypoScript Templates then it begins to look like programming.

In any case TypoScript is not comparable to a scripting language like PHP or JavaScript. In fact, if TYPO3 CMS offers any scripting language it is PHP itself! TypoScript is only an API which is often used to configure underlying PHP code.

Finally the name "TypoScript" is misleading as well. We are sorry about that; too late to change that now.

Myth: "TypoScript has the same syntax as JavaScript"

TypoScript was designed to be simple to use and understand. Therefore the syntax looks like JavaScript objects to some degree. But again; it is very dangerous to say this since it all stops with the syntax - TypoScript is still not a procedural programming language!

Myth: "TypoScript is a proprietary standard"

Since TypoScript is not a scripting language it does not make sense to claim this in comparison to PHP, JavaScript, Java or whatever scripting language .

However compared to XML or PHP arrays (which also contain information) you can say that TypoScript is a proprietary syntax since a PHP array or XML file could be used to contain the same information as TypoScript does. But this is not a drawback. For storage and exchange of content TYPO3 uses SQL (or XML if you need to), for storage of configuration values XML is not suitable anyways - TypoScript is much better at that job (see below).

To claim that TypoScript is a proprietary standard as an argument against TYPO3 is really unfair since the claim makes it sound like TypoScript is a whole new programming language or likewise. Yes, the TypoScript syntax is proprietary but extremely useful and when you get the hang of it, it is very easy to use. In all other cases TYPO3 uses official standards like PHP, SQL, XML, XHTML etc. for all external data storage and manipulation.

The most complex use of TypoScript is probably with the TypoScript Template Records. It is understandable that TypoScript has earned a reputation of being complex when you consider how much of the Frontend Engine you can configure through TypoScript Template records. But basically TypoScript is just an API to the PHP functions underneath. And if you think there are a lot of options there it would be no better if you were to use the PHP functions directly! Then there would be maybe even more API documentation to explain the API and you wouldn't have the streamlined abstraction provided by TypoScript Templates. This just served to say: The amount of features and the time it would take to learn about them would not be eliminated, if TypoScript was not invented!

Myth: "TypoScript is very complex"

TypoScript is simple in nature. But certainly it can quickly become complex and get "out of hand" when the amount of code lines grows! This can partly be solved by:

  • Disciplined coding: Organize your TypoScript in a way that you can visually comprehend.
  • Use the Syntax Highlighter to analyze and clean up your code - this gives you overview as well.

Why not XML instead?

A few times TypoScript has been compared with XML since both "languages" are frameworks for storing information. Apart from XML being a W3C standard (and TypoScript still not... :-) ) the main difference is that XML is great for large amounts of information with a high degree of "precision" while TypoScript is great for small amounts of "ad hoc" information - like configuration values normally are.

Actually a data structure defined in TypoScript could also have been modeled in XML. Currently you cannot use XML as an alternative to TypoScript, but this may happen at some point. Let's present this fictitious example of how a TypoScript structure could also have been implemented in "TSML" (our fictitious name for the non-existing TypoScript Mark-Up Language):

styles.content.bulletlist = TEXT
styles.content.bulletlist {
  stdWrap.current = 1
  stdWrap.trim = 1
  stdWrap.if.isTrue.current = 1
  # Copying the object "styles.content.parseFunc" to this position
  stdWrap.parseFunc < styles.content.parseFunc
  stdWrap.split {
    token.char = 10
    cObjNum = 1
    1.current < .cObjNum
    1.wrap = <li>
  # Setting wrapping value:
  stdWrap.textStyle.altWrap = {$styles.content.bulletlist.altWrap}

That was 17 lines of TypoScript code and converting this information into an XML structure could look like this:

<TSML syntax="3">
          <!-- Copying the object "styles.content.parseFunc" to this position -->
          <parseFunc copy="styles.content.parseFunc"/>
          <!-- Setting wrapping value: -->
          <fontTag>&lt;ol type=&quot;1&quot;&gt; | &lt;/ol&gt;</fontTag>

That was 35 lines of XML - the double amount of lines! And in bytes probably also much bigger. This example clearly demonstrates why not XML! XML will just get in the way, it is not handy for what TypoScript normally does. But hopefully you can at least use this example in your understanding of what TypoScript is compared to XML.

The reasonable application for using XML as an alternative solution to TypoScript is if an XML editor existed which in some way made the entering of XML data into a structure like this possible and easy.