David HH has an interesting piece on “The false promise of template languages”. While neither Perl nor PHP may offer the same clean syntax in the code as Ruby can do, it does indeed raise a few interesting questions about how actually benefit from the templates and who does in the space between designers and developers. I do love some degree of separation between heavy duty code and the interface layer, and usually work with HTML::Template or Smarty – they work and the penalty for using a separation layer seems to be the smallest possible (at least in a balanced performance/ functionality view).
Following Davids examples in the post, it seems with Rails (and its enforcement of MVC), why could actually do without the template engine and still have readable/understandable “templates”. Now that’s interesting.