Cheetah is an open source template engine and code generation tool, written in Python. It can be used standalone or combined with other tools and frameworks. Web development is its principle use, but Cheetah is very flexible and is also being used to generate C++ game code, Java, sql, form emails and even Python code.

Cheetah has a large and active user community. Products built with Cheetah are used by many of the Fortune 500. One prominent new user is, a startup funded by Paul Graham. It has over 50,000 unique visitors a day.

“I'm enamored with Cheetah”
- Sam Ruby, senior member of IBM's Emerging Technologies Group & director of Apache Software Foundation
“Give Cheetah a try. You won't regret it. ... Cheetah is a truly powerful system. ... Cheetah is a serious contender for the 'best of breed'”
- Alex Martelli, Google uber techie, core Python developer & author of several popular Python books
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Download Cheetah 2.0.1 (released on November 16, 2007: minor bug fix).


  • is supported by every major Python web framework.
  • is fully documented and is supported by an active user community.
  • can output/generate any text-based format.
  • compiles templates into optimized, yet readable, Python code.
  • blends the power and flexibility of Python with a simple template language that non-programmers can understand.
  • gives template authors full access to any Python data structure, module, function, object, or method in their templates. Meanwhile, it provides a way for administrators to selectively restrict access to Python when needed.
  • makes code reuse easy by providing an object-oriented interface to templates that is accessible from Python code or other Cheetah templates. One template can subclass another and selectively reimplement sections of it. Cheetah templates can be subclasses of any Python class and vice-versa.
  • provides a simple, yet powerful, caching mechanism that can dramatically improve the performance of a dynamic website.
  • encourages clean separation of content, graphic design, and program code. This leads to highly modular, flexible, and reusable site architectures, shorter development time, and HTML and program code that is easier to understand and maintain. It is particularly well suited for team efforts.
  • can be used to generate static html via its command-line tool.

What is the philosophy behind Cheetah?

Its design was guided by these principles:

  • Python for the back end, Cheetah for the front end. Cheetah was designed to complement Python, not replace it.
  • Cheetah's core syntax should be easy for non-programmers to learn.
  • Cheetah should make code reuse easy by providing an object-oriented interface to templates that is accessible from Python code or other Cheetah templates.
  • Python objects, functions, and other data structures should be fully accessible in Cheetah.
  • Cheetah should provide flow control and error handling. Logic that belongs in the front end shouldn't be relegated to the back end simply because it's complex.
  • It should be easy to separate content, graphic design, and program code, but also easy to integrate them.

    A clean separation makes it easier for a team of content writers, HTML/graphic designers, and programmers to work together without stepping on each other's toes and polluting each other's work. The HTML framework and the content it contains are two separate things, and analytical calculations (program code) is a third thing. Each team member should be able to concentrate on their specialty and to implement their changes without having to go through one of the others (i.e., the dreaded "webmaster bottleneck").

    While it should be easy to develop content, graphics and program code separately, it should be easy to integrate them together into a website. In particular, it should be easy:

    • for programmers to create reusable components and functions that are accessible and understandable to designers.
    • for designers to mark out placeholders for content and dynamic components in their templates.
    • for designers to soft-code aspects of their design that are either repeated in several places or are subject to change.
    • for designers to reuse and extend existing templates and thus minimize duplication of effort and code.
    • and, of course, for content writers to use the templates that designers have created.
Cheetah was created by Tavis Rudd, a freelance programmer and designer, with contributions from many open source volunteers.
Its documentation is edited by Mike Orr, who also wrote its command line tool. Logo