Template files within Sympa used to be in a proprietary format that has been replaced with the TT2 template format.
You will find detailed documentation about the TT2 syntax on the web site: http://www.tt2.org
If you are an emacs user, you can use the TT2 highlighting mode by Dave Cross. Vim users should check out the vim-perl distribution which includes TT2 syntax files.
Here are some aspects regarding templates that are specific to Sympa:
References to PO catalogues are noted with the [% loc %]
tag that may include parameters. Example:
[%|loc(list.name,list.host)%]Welcome to list %1 %2[%END%]
Apart from a few exceptions, for security reasons templates cannot insert or parse a file given its full or relative path. Only the file name should be provided; the TT2 parser will then use the
INCLUDE_PATH provided by Sympa to find the relevant file to insert/parse.
filter should be used if a template includes SMTP
header fields that should be Q-encoded. Example:
[% FILTER qencode %]Message à modérer[%END%]
You can write different versions of a template file in different languages, each of them being located in a subdirectory of the
tt2 directory. Example:
Starting Sympa 6.1, you can create your own actions, i.e. you can display any TT2 template in the Sympa web interface. These templates will be processed and completely integrated to Sympa, using its CSS and the data from the server.
Here are the steps to use custom actions :
create a template bearing your custom action name (test.tt2 for example) and pu it in the relevant directory (either etc/web_tt2, etc/hostname/web_tt2, list_data/web__t2 or list_data/hostname/web_tt2) ;
Call this action by using an URL
of on the following forms:
for a non-list related custom action: http://your_sympa_server_root_url/ ca /<action_name>/param1/param2/param3/...
for a list-related custom action: http://your_sympa_server_root_url/ lca/<listname> /<action_name>/param1/param2/param3/...
The number of parameters is not limited. The parameters are accessed in templates using the
cap template variable. This variable is a simple array in which the custom action parameters appear in the same order as in the URL.
Here is an example of such a custom action. this action only displays the parameters given in the URL.
I create a file called test.tt2 and put it in the
etc/web_tt2 directory. Here is its content:
<h2>A test action</h2>
[% IF list %]
<p>liste: [% list %]</p>
[% END %]
<p>Custom action name: [% custom_action %]</p>
[% FOREACH param=cap %]
<li><b>[% param %]</b></li>
Here is the result:
These files are used by Sympa as service messages for several commands. These files are interpreted (parsed) by Sympa and respect the TT2 template format; every file has a .tt2 extension. See Template file format.
Sympa looks for these files in the following order (where
<list> is the listname if defined,
<action> is the name of the command, and
<lang> is the preferred language of the user):
If the file starts with a From: line, it is considered as a full message and will be sent (after parsing) without adding SMTP headers. Otherwise, the file is treated as a text/plain message body.
The variables listed below may be used in these template files. Note however that all list-related variables are available in a list context only.
[% sender %]: e-mail address of the sender;
[% return_path %]: Return-Path SMTP
header of the message;
[% fromlist %]: From SMTP
header of the message;
[% replyto %]: Reply-To SMTP
header of the message ;
[% boundary %]: MIME
parts separator calculated for service messages;
[% robot_domain %]: domain of a virtual host as defined in the
[% list.lang %]: default language of the list;
[% list.name %]: the list name;
[% list.domain %]: the domain the list is hosted by;
[% list.host %]: the domain the list is hosted by;
[% list.subject %]: the subject of the list;
[% list.owner %]: an array containing the list owners address;
[% list.dir %]: The absolute path to the list's configuration directory;
[% conf.email %]: sympa email address local part;
[% conf.host %]: sympa default host domain name;
[% conf.sympa %]: sympa's complete email address;
[% conf.request %]: return address for bounces (sympa-request);
[% conf.listmaster %]: listmaster's email addresses;
[% conf.wwsympa_url %]: WWSympa
's root URL
[% conf.title %]: Host web page title;
[% conf.listmaster_email %]: listmaster'e-mail address local part;
[% conf.version %]: for global messages only! Sympa version number;
[% user.email %]: user email address;
[% user.lang %]: user language;
[% user.gecos %]: user gecos field (usually his/her name);
[% user.password %]: user password;
[% subscriber.date %]: date when the user subscribed to this list;
[% subscriber.update_date %]: date when the user last updated her/his profile;
[% subscriber.bounce %]: subscriber's bounce rate;
[% subscriber.first_bounce %]: date when this subscriber had her/his first bounce.
Below is a short list of the mail templates distributed by Sympa ; you should have a look at the
/home/sympa/bin/etc/mail_tt2/ directory content to have a better view of the customizeable mail templates. Note also that some list-related mail templates are described in the Mailing list definition/List template files section.
This file is sent in response to a
HELP command. You may use additional variables:
File returned by the
LISTS command. An additional variable is available:
These are the public lists for [conf->email]@[conf->domain]
[% FOREACH l = lists %]
[% l.key %]@[% l.value.host %] : [% l.value.subject %] ([% l.value.topics.0 %])
[% END %]
This file is sent in response to a
REMIND * command. (see Owner commands) You may use additional variables:
-[% lists %]: this is an array containing the names of the lists the user is subscribed to.
This is a subscription reminder.
You are subscribed to the following lists:
[% FOREACH l = lists %]
[% l %]: [% conf.wwsympa\_url \%]/info/[% l %]
[% END %]
Your subscriber e-mail: [% user.email %]
Your password: [% user.password %]
This message is sent to warn the sender of a virus infected mail, indicating the name of the virus found (see Antivirus).
This template includes most error messages related to message distribution.
Additional TT2 variables can be used within this template :
[% original_msg.full %]: the full original message
[% original_msg.body %]: the body of the original message
[% original_msg.from %]: the From header field of the original message
[% original_msg.subject %]: the Subject header field of the original message
[% original_msg.message_id %]: the Message-id header field of the original message
You may define your own web template files, different from the standard ones. WWSympa first looks for list specific web templates, then for site web templates, before falling back on its defaults.
Your list web template files should be placed in the
/home/sympa/list_data/mylist/web_tt2 directory, and your site web templates in the
The easiest way to find out which variable are made available by Sympa is to switch the
Set template vars dump feature on from the
Sympa admin web page (you need to log in with listmaster privileges). You can check the list of available variables in each web page.
Sympa colors are managed using color_x parameters in Sympa.conf.
You will find below how these parameters are interpreted in the Sympa web interface. Note that if you activated the static CSS, you will need to hit the “install static css” button once again to see the changes in your color definitions.
Sympa version 6 include a color editor in the “Sympa admin” systeme (see skins and css section)
web colors are defined in Sympa's main Makefile (see Compilation and installation
color_0: background color of:
color_1: background color of:
main navigation tabs
most of the buttons (those corresponding to the MainMenuLinks CSS
color_2: font and border color of:
color_3: background color of:
color_4: background color of:
color_5: background color of:
color_6: background color of:
color_7: background color of:
color_8: doted underscore color of:
border color for active action (for example, the section of the admin options which is currently viewed, or the header corresponding to the data following which an array is currently sorted)
border color for hovered hyperlinks corresponding to actions
background color for clicked links (corresponding to the .active state in a CSS
color_10: inactive buttons color. Rarely used. Don't bother.
color_11: font color for:
active navigation tab
some hovered buttons action(which are in fact hyperlinks, corresponding to the actionMenuLinks CSS
color_12: Font color for the class smallblack. Not sure it is used.
color_13: Background color of:
Here are gathered informations about the color parameters used for specific parts of the web interface. Take care to have a look to the preceding section as changing a parameter for an object is likely to change it for a few similar objects.
There are four different backgrounds in the web interface:
color_4; below all the rest. Just the base on which all the rest is stacked.
The main boxes:
color_5; This is where most of the text, buttons and links are displayed.
The top box and footer:
color_3; the top box is where your service name and main navigation tabs are displayed. The footer contains the version of Sympa.
The editable forms areas:
color_13; This is the color in all the form widgets which can be edited by users (text areas, selection lists).
The buttons color management can be confusing, so let's just stress it a little:
|Color attribute || MainMenuLinks CSS class||actionMenuLinks CSS class
|Default background color|
|Hovered background color|
|Default font color|
|Hovered font color|
|Default border color|
|Hovered border color|
Hyperlinks have the same attributes as plain text, except:
They are always underscored by a doted line of color
When hovered, they take the color
They have the following attributes:
Note these additional informations:
navigation tabs have the same default parameters as the class MainMenuLinks but the same parameters as actionMenuLinks when hovered;
except for the MainMenuLinks button, anything likely to do something if clicked takes the font color
color_11 when hovered;
the menu links (Info, Admin, Edit list config...) are the only objects whose color actually changes on click.
Sympa has four CSS stylesheets :
It will use a stylesheet or the other regarding the kind of request the user addressed.
But, for each stylesheet, what is sent to users varies regarding the values of two parameters :
defines the directory in which
can find static CSS
defines the URL
used by web clients to request the web server for stylesheets.
These parameters values are looked for in
robot.conf first, then
sympa.conf, and then, if not found, set to hard-coded defaults.
css_path isn't defined, its default is set to :
static_content_path is the parameter defining the root path to all static content for Sympa. If
static_content_path is undefined in
robot.conf, its value is set to :
css_url isn't defined, its default is set to :
static_content_url is the parameter defining the root url to all static content in Sympa. If
static_content_url is undefined in
robot.conf, its value is set to :
This way :
sympa_wizard.pl script, run at install, can set both
The content delivered varies greatly according to which case happens.
: the stylesheet received by the client is the file
found in the directory that your Apache server configuration associates to this URL
. It is up to you to decide whether this directory must correspond to the
value or not. If it corresponds to the
value, you must use the files generated by
. If not, you will use whichever stylesheet you want to define. Whatever solution you choose, take note that
will not, opposite to case 2, be involved in the stylesheet delivery, as it won't be addressed the HTTP
request. This way, your stylesheet is served directly by Apache and remains in cache, thus saving bandwidth.
Case 2: the stylesheet received by the client is the result of a wwsympa action called
wwsympa parses a file named
css.tt2 that it finds in the relevant
web_tt2 folder and generates on the fly a stylesheet that it returns to the client. In this case, the action is triggered any time a page is requested to
wwsympa and the four stylesheets are sent along with the page. This is more bandwidth consuming than case 1, but any change in
css.tt2 will be applied at once, without static content generation. This is particularly usefull when experimenting a new stylesheet.
If you use virtual hosts: this section describes all the possibles configuration options and their consequences on the actual paths and URL used.
The CSS generation described in the case 2 of the previous section has two purposes :
files generated on the fly for each request
Generate static CSS
files stored in the directory defined by the
parameter. These files are subsequently used as static content. The static CSS
file generation can be done in two ways :
using the “Install static CSS
” button in the skins administration page of wwsympa.
automaticaly updated at
process startup whenever it detects that the static CSS
is older than the
template file. This is very convenient while doing a Sympa upgrade because the static CSS
files get automatically updated. The listmaster gets a mail notification.
The following explanations apply whichever you use static (but sympa-generated) or dynamic CSS. Both operations use the same template file and data.
are defined in either
. The role of each color parameter is explained in the color customization guide
For the particular case of colors, though, note that the colors used are those from the
sympa.conf, whichever is relevant.
wwsympa uses those loaded in memory at the time the CSS generation is requested, being to generate a static stylesheet or to deliver a dynamic one directly. That means that if you change colors in your configuration file, these changes must be taken into account by
wwsympa prior to regenerating CSS.
Any other CSS information
is defined in
template. As any other template, take care not to modify the default file (in
) but to copy it in
and modify the copies. In these copies, you can add/change/delete anything you like, it is not supposed to suffer from upgrades.
Nothing prevents you from configuring your Apache server in order that requests to URL containing
css_url be answered by serving the content of a directory different from the one corresponding to
css_path. This way, you can directly edit the
style.css file, and this file won't be overwritten during the next update. The drawback is that you can't use the
color_x parameters defined in your
sympa.conf file. Indeed, they are used only when parsing
Sympa was originally designed as a multilingual Mailing List Manager. Even in its earliest versions, Sympa separated messages from the code itself, messages being stored in NLS catalogues (according to the XPG4 standard). Later a
lang list parameter was introduced. Nowadays, Sympa is able to keep track of individual users' language preferences.
If you are willing to provide Sympa into your native language, please check the translation howto: http://www.sympa.org/howtotranslate.html.
Every message sent by Sympa to users, owners and editors is outside the code, in a message catalog. These catalogs are located in the
To tell Sympa to use a particular message catalog, you can should set the
lang parameter in
lang list parameter defines the language for a list. It is currently used by WWSympa and to initialize users' language preferences at subscription time.
In future versions, all messages returned by Sympa concerning a list should be in the list's language.
The user language preference is currently used by WWSympa only. There is no email-based command for a user to set his/her language. The language preference is initialized when the user subscribes to his/her first list. WWSympa allows the user to change it.
WWSympa's homepage shows a list of topics for classifying mailing lists. This is dynamically generated using the different lists'
topics configuration parameters. A list may appear in multiple categories.
This parameter is different from the
msg_topic parameter used to tag list messages.
The list of topics is defined in the
topics.conf configuration file, located in the
/home/sympa/etc directory. The format of this file is as follows:
title <topic1 title>
title.fr <topic french title>
visibility <topic1 visibility>
title <topicn title>
title.de <topicn german title>
You will notice that subtopics can be used, the separator being /. The topic name is composed of alphanumerics (0-1a-zA-Z) or underscores (_). The order in which the topics are listed is respected in WWSympa's homepage. The
visibility line defines who can view the topic and subtopics. It refers to the associated
topics_visibility authorization scenario. You will find a sample
topics.conf in the
sample directory; NONE is installed as the default.
A default topic is hard-coded in Sympa:
default. This default topic contains all lists for which a topic has not been specified.
You can create an unlimited number of custom parameters to be used with authorization scenarios, web templates and mail templates.
These parameters are defined in each list configuration through the web interface by using the form in Admin → Edit list config → Miscellaneous page. There, you add a parameter in the custom parameters (custom_vars) section.
The var name field corresponds to your custom parameter name, the var value field corresponds to your custom parameter value.
You can later access this parameter:
You define a custom parameter with the following values:
You can use it as follows:
in scenarios : with the syntax
[custom_vars->sisterList], which will correspond to “math-teachers”
in web or mail templates : with the syntax
custom_vars.sisterList, which will correspond to “math-teachers”
If the user description parameters available in Sympa don't suit your needs, you can define your own description attributes. These attributes can be used when moderating subscription or message moderation. They provide additional, useful informations, when making a decision.
Users can provide the information expected by your custom attributes on two occasions :
The custom attributes are stored as XML fragments in the subscriber_table table. This fragment is located in the
Here is an example of such an XML fragment, which contains two custom attributes :
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
the custom attributes are displayed for each user in the subscribers review of the web interface.
You can use these attributes to customize messages.
Sympa uses multiple heuristics to avoid loops in Mailing lists.
First, it rejects messages coming from a robot (as indicated by the
From: and other header fields) and messages containing commands.
Second, every message sent by Sympa includes an
X-Loop header field set to the listname. If the message comes back, Sympa will detect that it has already been sent (unless
X-Loop header fields have been erased).
Third, Sympa keeps track of Message IDs and will refuse to send multiple messages with the same message ID to the same mailing list.
Finally, Sympa detect loops arising from command reports (i.e. sympa-generated replies to commands). This sort of loop might occur as follows:
X sends a command to Sympa
Sympa sends a command report to X
X has installed a home-made vacation program replying to messages
Sympa processes the reply and sends a report
Looping to step 3
Sympa keeps track (via an internal counter) of reports sent to any particular address. The loop detection algorithm is: