Tagging tags in Hugo

hugo taxonomy

Hugo has extensive support for Taxonomies. These allow any page to be tagged with anything, with appropriate list pages generated automatically.

However, this support does not extend to those list pages themselves.

In a normal page template, I can use {{.GetTerms "tags"}} to get the current page’s tags, including the link to the listing for those tags.

{{.GetTerms "tags"}} in a Taxonomy Term template returns nothing.

Fortunately Hugo is flexible enough to allow us to work around this limitation.

After a lot of exploration, I believe the best solution is to define a function partial that replaces .GetTerms, providing the same interface while adding support for getting terms from a list page.

Things that need to be implemented or worked around

Term pages need to be manually created

If a tag contains no regular pages, Hugo will not create it automatically, even if it is supposed to contain other tag pages.

For example, #games contains #osu and #prsk, but it does not contain a regular page. It has to be manually created in this case.

My solution to this is to write an Emacs command:

(defun k/hugo-new-term (term &optional taxonomy)
  "Create a new _index.org for TERM.

TAXONOMY is \"tags\" by default. Interactively, prompts for
another taxonomy with a \\[universal-argument]."
   (list (read-string "Term: ")
         (and current-prefix-arg
              (read-string "Taxonomy: "))))
  (unless taxonomy (setq taxonomy "tags"))
  (let ((default-directory (projectile-project-root)))
    (let ((dir (f-join "content" taxonomy term)))
      (make-directory dir t)
      (find-file (f-join dir "_index.org"))
      (insert "#+title: " term))))

This can also be done manually or with a shell script.

.Pages only lists regular pages in a term page

For example, #ci contains this page, but it also contains the tags #gitlab and #sourcehut.

Only the regular page would be listed by {{.Pages}}. The term pages have to be listed separately:

{{ $term_items := (slice) }}
{{ range (where .Site.AllPages "Kind" "term" ) }}
  {{ if (in (.Page.Param $.Data.Plural) (anchorize $.LinkTitle)) }}
    {{ $term_items = (union $term_items (slice .Page))}}
  {{ end }}
{{ end }}

{{ with $term_items }}
<ul class="index">
{{ range $term_items }}
    <li>{{ partial "index-item" . }}</li>
{{ end }}
{{ end }}

This is possibly an area that I should refactor.

.GetTerms needs to be replaced with a function partial that also works in a term page

For this I have to first explain function partials.

Function partials

The Hugo template language (based on Go Templates) does not support defining functions. It does, however, support returning raw values from partial templates.

For example, this snippet would receive a Page, assign its Title to $text, then return $text.

{{ $text := .Title }}
{{ return $text }}

It can then be used in a template like this (assuming the partial is called text-return-example):

{{ partial "text-return-example" . }}

Crucially, this value can also be passed to other template functions, not just inserted directly into the template output.

This still leaves a limitation: it only accepts one input. As the official docs demonstrated in an example, this can be worked around by passing a dict to it:

{{ partial "dict-input-example" (dict "taxonomy" "tags" "page" .) }}

Then the dict-input-example partial can access it this way:

{{ printf "%s/%s" .taxonomy .page.Title }}

Personally, I refer to these partials that return raw values as function partials, and I name them with a func- prefix.

func-page-term: .GetTerms replacement

It’s actually pretty short:

{{ $terms := (slice) }}
  {{ range (.page.Param .taxonomy) }}
    {{ $terms = (union $terms (slice ((site).GetPage (printf "/%s/%s" $.taxonomy (anchorize .)))))}}
  {{ end }}
{{ return $terms }}
  • First we initialize an array called $terms.

  • .taxonomy is an input variable. Let’s assume it is “tags” in this example.

  • .page is also an input variable, pointing to the current page. The caller has to handle this properly.

  • (.page.Param .taxonomy) extracts the “tags” parameter of the current page in this example. It is assumed to be list; this is specified in the frontmatter of each page.

  • We loop over all the tags, creating a reference to their corresponding Pages with (site).GetPage, then add that to $terms.

    • anchorize creates a file name from a display name.

    • union accepts two collections, keeping only unique items.

    • We have to specify (site), otherwise Hugo complains that .GetPage isn’t available in the current context.

    • We have to add the $ in $.taxonomy, as the current context inside of the range block is the tag being iterated over.

  • Then we just return $terms, in this example the list of tags as Pages regardless of whether Hugo recognizes them as taxonomy or not.

Hugo is fast enough that even with this, my whole site still builds in about 350 ms.


I can now add tags (and other taxonomy terms) to any page now, not just regular pages.