BEML - an HTML preprocessor for BEM

Published on 4/9/2014

Depending on a project people prefer different ways to adapt BEM. This results into a range of tools for our choice. Today, I am translating Maxim Shkalin's description of the BEML templating pre-processor.

Willing to lighten the development with BEM I propose a tiny extension for the HTML syntax (yes, I used to writ all those long CSS classes manually). As the name BEMHTML is greedily taken by the Yandex guys, let us call it BEML.


  1. Smooth learning curve
    HTML-syntax with no need to transform one language into another.
  2. Portability
    The tool has to be easy to use with other languages.
  3. Compatiblity with template engines
    Instead of trying to replace them.
  4. Simplicity
    Easy to use at any project.

It might be my habit, but I do not see the need to transform JSON into HTML. BEMJSON page description usually looks like spaghetti and is very hard to read due to its syntax. Also I do not think that HTML is wrong. AngularJS has already shown that HTML can be much flexible than now. Thus, I decided to follow this example.

Moreover, there is anothe problem with using BEMHTML. You need Node.js running for your backend; or use another JavaScript engine for PHP or Rython with dirty hacks like V8JS or PyV8. The otehr way round could be preparation of a rendered template, but this sounds even more unnatural.

It would be nice to have a JavaScript-preprocessor and a relative Grunt task which can be used for creating the prototypes. Then, with transforming to PHP you can use the same templates in the backend.


I had a lot of ideas how to extend HTML with inheritance, includes and loops. But finally I cut them off. It would be too complex to support and then provide the portability. Besides, there is a lot of other template engines; I would rather enter into alliance with them than to compete. Finally I got not a template engine but a preprocessor (or postprocessor) to the current one.

The scenario is the following. First, create BEML markup using your template engine. Then, past it not to the client but to the post-processor which turns BEM syntax into HTML. Funally the HTML goes to the client.

Or, there is a faster way for the braves. You can change your template with pre-processor which turns BEM attributes into HTML, cache it and use this chached copy with your dear template engine. Indeed, the pre-processor does not touch the template engine code.


This is very simple, you just use 4 more attributes like block, elem, mod and mix. I suppose it is clear what each of them is responsible for. For the complex values you can use light JSON dialect with no quotation marks and optional curly braces. Finally the tool turns this code:

<div block="b-animals">
  <div elem="cat" mod="size:big, color:red"></div>

into the following HTML.

<div class="b-animals">
  <div class="b-animals__cat

Much readable.

Full information about the syntax you can learn from the README on GitHub.

Try now

npm install beml
var beml = require('beml');
var template = '<div block="b-block" mod="size:big"></div>';

beml.process(template, function(err, html) {


This article is a translaton. The original article by Maxim Shkalin was posted in his blog. Follow him in the social networks: