POCO PageCompiler

POCO C++ Server Page Compiler User Guide


PageCompiler is a command line tool that translates HTML files (and other kinds of files) into C++ code, more precisely, subclasses of Poco::Net::HTTPRequestHandler. The source files can contain special directives that allow embedding of C++ code. The syntax of these directives is based on the syntax used for Java Server Pages (JSP), Active Server Pages (ASP) or Embedded JavaScript (EJS) templating.

This makes PageCompiler a C++-based HTML templating system. Since the translation of the HTML template into a C++ class happens at compile time, runtime performance is excellent.

The following introductory sample shows the code for a simple page that displays the current date and time.

<%@ page class="TimeHandler" %>
    #include "Poco/DateTime.h"
    #include "Poco/DateTimeFormatter.h"
    #include "Poco/DateTimeFormat.h"

    using Poco::DateTime;
    using Poco::DateTimeFormatter;
    using Poco::DateTimeFormat;

    DateTime now;
    std::string dt(DateTimeFormatter::format(now, DateTimeFormat::SORTABLE_FORMAT));
<title>Time Sample</title>
<h1>Time Sample</h1>
<p><%= dt %></p>

Sending the above code to the page compiler will generate two files, a header file (TimeHandler.h) and an implementation file (TimeHandler.cpp). The files define a subclass of Poco::Net::HTTPRequestHandler named TimeHandler. The generated handleRequest member function contains code to send the HTML code contained in the source file to the client, as well as the C++ code fragments found in between the Scriptlet tags.

C++ Server Page Syntax

The following special tags are supported in a C++ server page (CPSP) file.

Hidden Comment

A hidden comment documents the CPSP file, but is not sent to the client.

<%-- <comment> --%>

Implementation Declaration

An implementation declaration is copied to the implementation file immediately after the block containing the standard #include directives. It is used to include additional header files and using declarations, as well as to define classes needed later on.


Header Declaration

A header declaration is copied to the header file immediately after the block containing the standard #include directives. It is usually used to include the header file containing the definition of the base class for the request handler, if a custom base class is required.



The result of any valid C++ expression can be directly inserted into the page, provided the result can be written to an output stream. Note that the expression must not end with a semicolon. If HTML escape mode is enabled (new in POCO C++ Libraries release 1.10.0), HTML special characters < > " & will be replaced with corresponding character entities.

<%= <expression> %>

An alternative form of this is:

<%- <expression> %>

The latter form always copies the result of expression to the page verbatim, without escaping special HTML characters.

Note that if escape mode is disabled, both forms are equivalent.


Arbitrary C++ code fragments can be included using the Scriptlet directive.


Pre-Response Scriptlet

This is similar to an ordinary scriptlet, except that it will be executed before the HTTP response is sent. This can be used to manipulate the HTTP response object.


The main feature of this directive is that it allows to send a redirect response to the client if a certain condition is true.


    if (!loggedIn)
    	return response.redirect("/");

Include Directive

Another CPSP file can be included into the current file using the Include Directive.

<%@ include file="<path>" %>

Alternatively, this can also be written as:

<%@ include page="<path>" %>

C++ Header Include Directive

Include a C++ header file in the generated header file.

<%@ header include="<path>" %>

This corresponds to:

<%!! #include "<path>" %>

A variant of this directive is:

<%@ header sinclude="<path>" %>

This corresponds to:

<%!! #include <<path>> %>

C++ Implementation Include Directive

Include a C++ header file in the generated implementation file.

<%@ impl include="<path>" %>

This corresponds to:

<%! #include "<path>" %>

A variant of this directive is:

<%@ impl sinclude="<path>" %>

This corresponds to:

<%! #include <<path>> %>

Page Directive

The Page Directive allows the definition of attributes that control various aspects of C++ code generation.

<%@ page <attr>="<value>" ... %>

The following page attributes are supported:


Specifies the name of the generated class. Defaults to the base name of the source file with the word "Handler" appended.


If specified, sets the namespace where the generated classes will be in. No namespace will be used if omitted.


Specifies the name of the class used as the base class for the generated request handler class. Defaults to Poco::Net::HTTPRequestHandler. Do not forget to add a Header Declaration containing an #include directive for the header file containing the definition of that class, otherwise the generated code won't compile.


Allows passing of a context object to the request handler's constructor. The context object is stored in the request handler object and can be obtained by calling the context() object.

The class of the context object must be specified. Cannot be used together with ctorArg.


Allows to specify the type of a single argument being passed to the constructor of the generated request handler class. Can only be used together with baseClass. The argument is passed on to the constructor of the base class, therefore, one of the constructors of the base class must also accept a single argument of the specified type.

Cannot be used together with context.


Enable (set to true) or disable (false, default) HTML escape mode. If enabled, the result of any expression enclosed in <%= %> tags will be HTML-escaped, which means HTML special characters < > " & will be replaced by corresponding character entities.


Allows to specify a DLL import/export directive that is being added to the request handler class definition. Useful for exporting a request handler class from a Windows DLL.


Enable or disable automatic form handling. If enabled, which is the default, a Poco::Net::HTMLForm object is automatically created in the request handler and accessible through a variable named form. Set the value to false to disable form handling.


Allows you to pass a Poco::Net::PartHandler object to the form object for processing file uploads. A subclass of Poco::Net::PartHandler must be defined (using an Implementation Declaration), and the constructor of the part handler must take a (const) reference to the request handler instance as argument.


Allows you to specify the MIME content type for the page. Defaults to text/html.


Allows to specify a language tag (e.g., "en") that will be sent in the response Content-Language header if the client sends an Accept-Language header in the request.


Allows to specify the value of the HTTP Content-Security-Policy header.


Allows to specify the value of the HTTP Referrer-Policy header.


Allows you to specify whether the response is sent using chunked transfer encoding. Defaults to true. Set the value to false to disable chunked transfer encoding.


Enables or disables response body compression. If set to true, and the client supports the "gzip" content encoding (indicated by the "Accept-Encoding" header), the response body will be compressed using the "gzip" format and the "Content-Encoding" header will be set accordingly. Defaults to false. Cannot be enabled together with response buffering.


Specify the compression level, if response body compression is enabled. Valid values are 1 (fastest) to 9 (best compression). Defaults to 1.


Enables or disables response buffering. Response buffering is disabled by default. Set to true to enable buffering, or to false to disable it. If response buffering is enabled, everything written to the response stream is actually written to a string stream (std::ostringstream). Sending of the HTTP response back to the client is deferred to when the page is complete.


If set to a non-empty string (e.g., "no-cache, no-store"), adds a "Cache-Control" header to the response with the given argument as value.

session (OSP only)

For use with the POCO Open Service Platform only.

Specifies the identifier of the session obtained from the OSP Web Session Manager. If specified, a Poco::OSP::Web::WebSession object will be available in the request handler through a variable named session. The variable is of type Poco::OSP::Web::WebSession::Ptr. If the identifier starts with an asterisk ('@'), the identifier is considered to be a bundle property name, and the session identifier is read from the respective bundle property.

sessionTimeout (OSP only)

For use with the POCO Open Service Platform only.

Specifies the session timeout in minutes. If the argument is a string, it is considered to be a bundle property name and the timeout value is read from the respective bundle property.

createSession (OSP only)

For use with the POCO Open Service Platform only.

If set to true, which is the default if the attribute is not specified, a new session will be created if the request does not contain a (valid) session cookie. If set to false and there is no existing session that matches the session cookie. the session variable will be null.


Allows to specify a C++ boolean expression which will be evaluated before processing of the page begins. If the expression evaluates to false, processing of the page is immediately terminated and no response is sent to the client.

The expression can be a call to a member function defined in the handler base class. If that function returns false, it can send its own response to the client.


<%@ page precondition="checkCredentials(request, response)" %>


Specify a server path for the page. If specified, the generated handler class will contain a public static const std::string member variable named PATH containing the specified path.


<%@ page path="/index.html" %>

Implicit Objects

The following objects are available in the handler code.


The HTTP request object - an instance of Poco::Net::HTTPServerRequest.


The HTTP response object - an instance of Poco::Net::HTTPServerRequest.


The output stream where the response body is written to.


An instance of Poco::Net::HTMLForm for processing form arguments. Only available if form processing has not been disabled by setting the form page attribute to false.

session (OSP only)

An instance of Poco::OSP::Web::WebSession::Ptr for accessing the Poco::OSP::Web::WebSession object for the current session. Only available with the POCO Open Service Platform, and if the session page attribute has been specified. May be null if the createSession attribute is false and no session exists.

Invoking the Page Compiler

The Page Compiler is invoked from the command line. The file names of the CPSP files to be compiled are specified as arguments.

A number of options control the code generation. Options are specified using the usual command-line option syntax for the current operating system (e.g., /help on Windows, --help or -h on Unix).

  • help (h): display usage information
  • define (D): define a configuration property
  • config-file (f): load configuration properties from a file
  • osp (O): add factory class definition/implementation for use with OSP
  • apache (A): add factory class definition/implementation and shared library manifest for use with ApacheConnector
  • escape (e): make HTML-escape mode default for all pages

Run the PageCompiler with the —help option to see all available options.

Configuration Properties

The Page Compiler supports one configuration property, named PageCompiler.fileHeader, to optionally specify a header that is included in every generated file.

The file header can contain references to other configuration properties, using the usual property syntax: ${property}.

For example, invoking the Page Compiler with the following configuration file:

PageCompiler.fileHeader = //\n// ${outputFileName}\n//\n

places the following header at the beginning of each generated file (<filename> is replaced with the actual name of the file):

// <filename>

The following pre-defined properties can be used in the file header:

  • ${inputFileName}: the name of the input file (with directories removed)
  • ${inputFilePath}: the complete path of the input file
  • ${dateTime}: the current date and time (YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS)
  • ${outputFileName}: the name of the current output file (header or implementation file), with directories removed
  • ${outputFilePath}: the complete path of the current output file