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Template Module

A template module, sometimes referred to as a "template repository" is a module consumable by a stencil application, that contains a collection of go-templates.

General Module Requirements

A module requires a name and a description currently that are set in the manifest.yaml described later on in this document.

The name of a module must be equal to the import path of the module. The import path of a module follows the same rules as Golang, where as the repository URL must equal the import path. For example, if the module is located at, the import path must be


A module structure typically looks like so:

  • templates/ - a directory that contains all of the go-templates that this module owns
  • manifest.yaml - a manifest describing the arguments, dependencies and other metadata for this module
  • go.mod - a go module file used for testing the module
  • **/.snapshots - a directory used for snapshot testing files


This directory is used for storing all of the go-templates that a module owns. By default a file that doesn't have a .tpl extension will be ignored by stencil. When a .tpl file is found, this file is written to the base of the execution directory of stencil, minus the templates directory and .tpl extension.

For example, if a module had a template at templates/helloWorld.tpl it would by default be written to ./helloWorld

This can be changed with the file.SetPath function as needed.

Templates can also call file.Create to create a new file within a loop. For more information see the file.Create documentation

Library Templates

Library templates special templates that are meant to only contain functions callable by the current module. They cannot call file methods as they do not ever generate files.

To create a library template, create a file with the .library.tpl extension.


The manifest.yaml file is arguably the most important file in a stencil module. This dictates the type of module, the arguments that the module accepts, and the dependencies that the module has.

The important keys that a module has are listed below, but an exhaustive list can be found on the

  • name - The import path of the module
  • description - A description of the module
  • modules - a list of modules that this module depends on
    • name - import path of the module depended on
    • version - optional: A version to pin this module to.
  • dirReplacements - a key:value mapping of template-able replacements for directory names, often used for languages like Java/Kotlin with directories named after the projects. These replacements can not rewrite directory structures, it only renames the leaf node directory name itself.
    • key: The directory name to replace
    • value: The template-able replacement name
    • example: This k:v pair will take the com.projname directory and replace it with the result of rendering the template (replacing it with the contents of the module's argument named "project-name"):
  "src/main/kotlin/com.projname": '{{ stencil.Arg "project-name" }}'
  • arguments - a map of arguments that this module accepts. A module cannot access an argument via stencil.Arg without first declaring it here.
    • name - the name of the argument
    • description - a description of the argument
    • schema - a JSON schema for the argument
    • required - whether or not the argument is required to be set
    • default - a default value for the argument, cannot be set when required is true
    • from - aliases this argument to another module's argument. Only supports one-level deep.

Writing a JSON Schema

Arguments support JSON Schemas. The schema is used to validate the argument value. The schema is a JSON Schema described here. This essentially boils down to two structures. For concrete types, like strings, numbers, and booleans, the schema is a simple object with a type key. For example:

type: string

For more complex types, like objects, and arrays the schema is an object with properties or a list of properties. For example, objects:

type: object
		type: string

For example, array of strings:

type: array
	type: string

Aliasing an argument with from

Aliasing an argument allows you to reference another argument from within the module. For example, if you have an argument called description and you want to alias it to another argument called from the module, you can do so like so:

# your module

			type: string

There's a few limitations with aliasing arguments:

  • Aliasing an argument to another argument that is itself aliased is not allowed.
  • When from is used, no other properties on the argument being aliased can be set.
  • When aliasing to a module, that module must be listed in the modules key of the module aliasing the argument.

Module Hooks

Module hooks enable other modules to write to a section of a file in your module. This can be done with the stencil.GetModuleHook "name" function. This returns a []interface{}, or for non-gophers a list of any type. You can process this with a range or in any other method you'd like to generate whatever you need for your DSL.

A module can write to a module hook with the stencil.AddToModuleHook "importPath" "hookName" function.

Updating a Module

Modules, by default, are updated by default when running stencil. This is done by finding the latest Github release for a module and then using it. However, this may not be desired, so stencil can also be ran with the --frozen-lockfile command which will attempt to use the last ran versions again. An exception to this is major releases. Stencil will, by default, prompt the user for their permission to use the new version when a major version upgrade is detected. This will also display the release notes of that release to the user.

Module versions are stored in the []modules.version keys in the stencil.lock file.

Testing a Module

Testing a module can be done in a variety of different ways, but the officially supported way of testing a module is through the testing framework that's generated by the stencil create module command.

More documentation can be found on the documentation for that command, but in a nutshell the default and recommended testing method for modules is snapshot testing. Snapshot testing is done by rendering the files of a module to a directory, and then comparing the rendered files to the expected files overtime. This is supported by the stenciltest go package.

Writing a test requires a valid go.mod file, as the tests are written in Go and to use the stenciltest package. To create a test, simply create a valid go test (e.g. main_test.go) and write a go test using the stenciltest package.

A simple example for rendering the template helloWorld.tpl to a file called helloWorld would look like so:

hello, world!
package main

import (


func TestGoMod(t \*testing.T) {
	// Create a renderer with the specified file being the file to test.
	// More files may be provided if they are depended as variadic arguments
	// but their output will not be saved.
	st := stenciltest.New(t, "go.mod.tpl")

	// Define the arguments to pass to stencil
	st.Args(map[string]interface{}{"org": "getoutreach"})

	// Run the test, persisting the snapshot to disk if it changed.
	// Default is set to false.

You can run all tests by running go test ./... in the root of the repository:

$ go test ./...
ok  2.861s

Testing a Module used in a Stencil Application

A stencil.yaml supports a replacements key that can be used to replace the source of a module with a different module. This is useful for testing a module that is used in a stencil application.

For example, if an application uses the module and you want to develop on the example-module, a key in replacements can be added to point it to a different source URL or file path.

	# Replace it with a file path ../example-module

	# Replace it with a different URL

If you want to lock the dependency to a specific version currently replacements don't support setting the version, but instead you'd specify this in the version field of the module field of the stencil.yaml. For the example above:

- name:
	version: v1.0.0

Releasing a Module

Modules, when generated by the stencil create command, are configured to release differently based on the target merge branch.

  • main - Creates a pre-release in Github, this is not automatically used or considered in stencil. These releases look like: v0.0.0-rc.X
  • release - Creates a release in Github, this is considered automatically when stencil is ran.

Conventional Commit

By default the versions bumps are made by using the commit messages. We recommend using squash and merge on your repository so that the title will be used for the commit, and thus the PR title is used instead. The rest of this document will assume this is the case.

A standard PR title should follow the conventional commit format. This roughly translates to the format of type(optionalScope): message.

feat: support multiple users

feat(users): add multiple user support

Let’s look at each of the different sections of a conventional commit:


A type controls the what is released, or not released. Generally a type should be specific to the changes in the PR, but when in doubt you can always select one that has the releasing behavior you want.

Major Release (vX.0.0)
  • BREAKING CHANGE - Breaks existing functionality. This will cause stencil to ask for a user's permission before updating
  • type! - shorthand for BREAKING CHANGE, use any other type below with a ! at the end


  • feat!(scope): break all the things
  • feat!: break allllllll the things
Minor Release (v0.X.0)
  • feat - a feature, this should be something that adds to the project and is end user facing, this should not be a a breaking change
Patch Release (v0.0.X)
  • fix - a fix to an existing feature in the project. Important: This should not be related to CI/CD, build, etc. See below for those
  • revert - reverts a previous commit, e.g. an accidental breaking change
  • perf - a performance modification, does not change existing functionality. Use feat if net-new functionality is added
No Release
  • refactor - changes existing code, a catch-all for changes not related to performance
  • ci - a modification related to the CI/CD system of the project. This does not trigger a release
  • build - a modification related to the build of the system, e.g. docker file, scripts building it, etc. This does not trigger a release
  • docs - a modification to the documentation of the project, e.g. README. This does not trigger a release
  • style - a pure style change to existing source code (e.g. whitespace formatting)
  • test - add missing tests or modify existing tests
  • chore - a misc, catch-all, change that doesn’t modify source code. This does not trigger a release


A scope is a useful way to separate changes, and identify them in a changelog. This is not required, and is loosely defined based on the project.


  • feat(users): added multiple users modified files in a internal/reactor/users_controller.go
  • fix(http): properly bind to config port modified the http server code in internal/reactor/httpservice.go

Creating a Release

Keeping in mind the release branches above, below are standard "SOPs" to release a module.

Creating a Release from main (Pre-release)

# Create the release
git checkout main; git pull
git checkout release; git pull
git merge main
git push

# Merge the merge commit back to main to ensure history is up-to-date.
git checkout main; git pull
git merge release
git push

Creating a One-Off Release (Hotfix)

# Create a cherry-picked commit
git checkout main; git pull
git checkout release; git pull
git cherry-pick <commit>
git push

# Keep main at the same history as release
git checkout main; git pull
git merge release
git push