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When building an app with many different pages, it can be helpful to extrapolate markup shared by several HTML files into a layout. This reduces the total amount of code in your project and helps you avoid making the same changes in multiple files down the road.

In Sails and Express, layouts are implemented by the view engines themselves. For instance, jade has its own layout system, with its own syntax.

For convenience, Sails bundles special support for layouts when using the default view engine, EJS. If you'd like to use layouts with a different view engine, check out that view engine's documentation to find the appropriate syntax.

Creating Layouts

Sails layouts are special .ejs files in your app's views/ folder you can use to "wrap" or "sandwich" other views. Layouts usually contain the preamble (e.g. !DOCTYPE html<html><head>....</head><body>) and conclusion (</body></html). Then the original view file is included using <%- body %>. Layouts are never used without a view- that would be like serving someone a bread sandwich.

Layout support for your app can be configured or disabled in config/views.js, and can be overridden for a particular route or action by setting a special local called layout. By default, Sails will compile all views using the layout located at views/layout.ejs.

To specify what layout a view uses, see the example below. There is more information in the docs at routes.

The example route below will use the view located at ./views/users/privacy.ejs within the layout located at ./views/users.ejs

'get /privacy': {
    view: 'users/privacy',
    locals: {
      layout: 'users'

The example controller action below will use the view located at ./views/users/privacy.ejs within the layout located at ./views/users.ejs

privacy: function (req, res) {
  res.view('users/privacy', {layout: 'users'})


Why do layouts only work for EJS?

In Express 3, built-in support for layouts/partials was deprecated. Instead, developers are expected to rely on the view engines themselves to implement this features. (See for more info on that.)

Since adopting Express 3, Sails has chosen to support the legacy layouts feature for convenience, backwards compatibility with Express 2.x and Sails 0.8.x apps, and in particular, familiarity for new community members coming from other MVC frameworks. As a result, layouts have only been tested with the default view engine (ejs).

If layouts aren’t your thing, or (for now) if you’re using a server-side view engine other than ejs, (e.g. Jade, handlebars, haml, dust) you’ll want to set layout:false in sails.config.views, then rely on your view engine’s custom layout/partial support.

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