ExpressionEngine® User Guide

Legacy Documentation

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Saving Templates as Text Files

ExpressionEngine supports saving Template Groups, Templates, Global Variable, and Template Partials as regular folders and files on your server, so that you can use your preferred text editor (e.g. Dreamweaver, Coda, BBEdit, etc.) to edit Templates and then FTP the changes to the server.

  • Template Group folder names must end with .group and the preceding name must be URL safe (contain only letters, numbers, dashes, underscores and dots).
  • Template Files must be in an appropriately named group folder. They must end with an approved extension and must be URL safe. Approved extensions and the associated template type they will result in are:
    • .html creates a ‘webpage’ template type
    • .feed creates an ‘rss’ template type
    • .css creates a ‘css’ template type
    • .js creates a ‘js’ template type
    • .xml creates an ‘xml’ template type
  • Template group names (not including the .group) and template names (not including the .extension) are limited to 50 characters. Anything longer than that will be truncated by the database and fail to match the file.

Enabling Saving Templates as Files

By default, templates are saved to the system/user/templates directory.


If templates are not saved as files, first check your folder permissions. The system/user/templates folder must be writable. See File Permissions for details.

If your permissions are correct, check to see if the configuration override is being used.

Creating and Synchronizing Templates and Files

Once your site is set up to save templates as text files, the files and the database will be kept in sync automatically. An edited or newly created template file is synced when it is used in any way; this includes loading it on the frontend or opening it in the Template Editor.


The templates are kept in sync based on their edit date. If the flat file has been edited more recently than the database, then its contents will be copied to the database. Similarly, if the database version is newer than the file, or a file does not exist, then the file will be written from the information in the database.

Deleting Templates Saved as Files

Templates can only be deleted in the Template Manager. Deleting a template file will not remove it from the database and the file will be recreated the next time that database entry is seen.

Saved Templates and the Multiple Site Manager

Sites under the Multiple Site Manager have their own preferences for saving templates as text files. As such, when setting up a new Site under the Multiple Site Manager, you must set up a new location for saving those templates.

When importing or duplicating to a new Site in the Multiple Site Manager, if you wish to use existing templates which are saved as text files, then the template directory must be manually copied to the directory for the new Site.