RTML is a language for describing web sites. Like HyperTalk, it is designed to be easy for users with no programming experience. It is, however, quite a powerful language.

In Viaweb, every object (e.g. an item or section) has an RTML template that describes what its Web page should look like. An RTML template yields ordinary HTML as its output, but with RTML you can describe complex pages that would be impossibly burdensome to express directly in HTML, either by hand or with a WYSIWYG authoring tool.

  1. RTML is a real programming language, not just a page description language (though it can be used simply as a page description language). As well as tags, it has variables, conditionals, iteration, subroutines, math operators, and so on.

  2. RTML makes it possible to define the structure of a whole site, not just the contents of individual pages.

  3. RTML can generate images, as well as text. You can define a simple button bar, for example, in about 30 lines.

  4. RTML includes predefined versions of commonly needed cgi-scripts.

  5. Like HTML, RTML is forgiving. If you make a mistake in a template, you may get a weird-looking page as a result, but you'll usually get something more than just an error message.

  6. RTML has a structure editor for editing templates. Instead of typing in your whole program, you choose code units from a menu, then fill in the blanks. This approach eliminates the syntax errors that are usually such an obstacle to novice programmers. It is impossible to create an ill-formed RTML template.

  7. RTML yields HTML as its output, so anything you can express in RTML can be viewed on an ordinary browser.

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