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TWiki Variables

Special text strings expand on the fly to display user data or system info

TWikiVariables are text strings - %VARIABLE% or %VARIABLE{ parameter="value" }% - that expand into content whenever a topic is rendered for viewing. There are two types of variables:

  1. Preferences variables: Can be defined and changed by the user
  2. Predefined variables: Defined by the TWiki system or by Plugins (for example, the SpreadSheetPlugin introduces a %CALC{}% variable)

Using Variables

To use a variable type its name. For example,

  • type %T% to get TIP (a preferences variable)
  • type %TOPIC% to get TWikiVariables (a predefined variable)
  • type %CALC{ "$UPPER(Text)" }% to get TEXT (a variable defined by Plugin)


  • To leave a variable unexpanded, precede it with an exclamation point, e.g. type !%TOPIC% to get %TOPIC%
  • Variables are expanded relative to the topic they are used in, not the topic they are defined in
  • Type %ALLVARIABLES% to get a full listing of all variables defined for a particular topic

Preferences Variables

Unlike predefined variables, preferences variables can be defined by the user in various places.

Setting Preferences Variables

You can set variables in all the following places:
  1. local site level in TWikiPreferences
  2. user level in individual user topics in Main web
  3. web level in WebPreferences of each web
  4. topic level in topics in webs
  5. plugin topics (see TWikiPlugins)
  6. session variables (if sessions are enabled)

Settings at higher-numbered levels override settings of the same variable at lower numbered levels, unless the variable was included in the setting of FINALPREFERENCES at a lower-numbered level, in which case it is locked at the value it has at that level.

The syntax for setting Variables is the same anywhere in TWiki (on its own TWiki bullet line, including nested bullets):
[multiple of 3 spaces] * [space] Set [space] VARIABLENAME [space] = [space] value

  • Set VARIABLENAME = value
    • Set VARIABLENAME = value
Spaces between the = sign and the value will be ignored. You can split a value over several lines by indenting following lines with spaces - as long as you don't try to use * as the first character on the following line.
   * Set VARIABLENAME = value starts here
     and continues here

Whatever you include in your Variable will be expanded on display, exactly as if it had been entered directly.

Example: Create a custom logo variable
  • To place a logo anywhere in a web by typing %MYLOGO%, define the Variable on the web's WebPreferences topic, and upload a logo file, ex: mylogo.gif. You can upload by attaching the file to WebPreferences, or, to avoid clutter, to any other topic in the same web, e.g. LogoTopic. Sample variable setting in WebPreferences:
    • Set MYLOGO = %PUBURL%/%WEB%/LogoTopic/mylogo.gif

You can also set preferences variables on a topic by clicking the link Edit topic preference settings under More topic actions. Preferences set in this manner are not visible in the topic text, but take effect nevertheless.

Access Control Variables

These are special types of preferences variables to control access to content. TWikiAccessControl explains these security settings in detail.

Local values for variables

Certain topics (a users home topic, web site and default preferences topics) have a problem; variables defined in those topics can have two meanings. For example, consider a user topic. A user may want to use a double-height edit box when they are editing their home topic - but only when editing their home topic. The rest of the time, they want to have a normal edit box. This separation is achieved using Local in place of Set in the variable definition. For example, if the user sets the following in their home topic:
   * Local EDITBOXHEIGHT = 20
Then when they are editing any other topic, they will get a 10 high edit box. However when they are editing their home topic, they will get a 20 high edit box. Local can be used wherever a preference needs to take a different value depending on where the current operation is being performed.

Use this powerful feature with great care! %ALLVARIABLES% can be used to get a listing of the values of all variables in their evaluation order, so you can see variable scope if you get confused.

Frequently Used Preferences Variables

The following preferences variables are frequently used. They are defined in TWikiPreferences#Miscellaneous_Settings:

  • %BR% - line break
  • %BULLET% - bullet sign
  • %BB% - line break and bullet combined
  • %BB2% - indented line break and bullet
  • %RED% text %ENDCOLOR% - colored text (also %YELLOW%, %ORANGE%, %PINK%, %PURPLE%, %TEAL%, %NAVY%, %BLUE%, %AQUA%, %LIME%, %GREEN%, %OLIVE%, %MAROON%, %BROWN%, %BLACK%, %GRAY%, %SILVER%, %WHITE%)
  • %H% - HELP Help icon
  • %I% - IDEA! Idea icon
  • %M% - MOVED TO... Moved to icon
  • %N% - NEW New icon
  • %P% - REFACTOR Refactor icon
  • %Q% - QUESTION? Question icon
  • %S% - PICK Pick icon
  • %T% - TIP Tip icon
  • %U% - UPDATED Updated icon
  • %X% - ALERT! Alert icon
  • %Y% - DONE Done icon

There are additional useful preferences variables defined in TWikiPreferences, in Main.TWikiPreferences, and in WebPreferences of every web.

Predefined Variables

Most predefined variables return values that were either set in the configuration when TWiki was installed, or taken from server info (such as current username, or date and time). Some, like %SEARCH%, are powerful and general tools.

  • ALERT! Predefined variables can be overridden by preferences variables
  • ALERT! Plugins may extend the set of predefined variables (see individual Plugins topics for details)
  • TIP Take the time to thoroughly read through ALL preference variables. If you actively configure your site, review variables periodically. They cover a wide range of functions, and it can be easy to miss the one perfect variable for something you have in mind. For example, see %INCLUDINGTOPIC%, %INCLUDE%, and the mighty %SEARCH%.

This version of TWiki - TWiki-4.2.4, Sat, 06 Dec 2008, build 17773 - predefines the following variables:

Warning: Can't find topic TWiki.TWikiVariablesAtoM

Warning: Can't find topic TWiki.TWikiVariablesNtoZ

Related Topics: UserDocumentationCategory

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Topic revision: r79 - 27 Mar 2005 - 13:14:15 - TWikiContributor
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