Is it possible NOT to replace entity references?

Discussion in 'XML' started by Stephan Hoffmann, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    I use XML mainly as a source for HTML. HTML browsers 'know'
    certain entity references like é or ä.

    When I use XSL to transform XML to HTML or XML, these entities are replaced
    by what they refer to.

    Is there a way to avoid that?

    Two reasons to avoid that:
    - On my linux machine xsltproc replaced the entities in a way that
    my browser did not correctly display the resulting HTML
    (I updated my linux distribution and it now works).

    - &lt; is replaced by < and the output is no longer valid XML/HTML

    I worked with the Python xml.sax module today,
    which had the same 'issue'. I can of course perform the
    inverse substitution before I write to the result document,
    but that seems like a lot of unnecessary work.

    Any hints?

    Thanks, Stephan
    Stephan Hoffmann, Sep 5, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Stephan Hoffmann wrote:

    XSLT/XPath 1.0 at least which is the current version and the one
    implemented by lots of processors and in wide-spread use does not
    provide anything in its data model or in its instructions to create
    entity references and to ensure that these are preserved and not
    replaced by the entity content when the result of a transformation is
    You would need to look at a specific XSLT processor and check whether it
    provides any mechanisms outside the standards to deal with entity and
    entity references.
    Saxon 6 has an extension function documented here:
    But &lt; and &gt; are references to entities predefined in XML and
    certainly if any application supposed to output XML or HTML outputs &lt;
    as a plain '<' character then the application is seriously broken.
    This is a different issue, those characters '<' and '>' are obviously
    special as they delimit tags in both XML and HTML and therefore need to
    be escaped as &lt; respectively &gt;.
    &auml; in HTML 4 stands for the character 'ä' and that has no special
    meaning in XML or HTML so if an XSLT processor or other application
    supposed to output XML or HTML simply inserts 'ä' instead of &auml; in a
    document properly encoded and with the proper encoding used and declared
    then there are no problems with well-formedness (or even validity).
    Martin Honnen, Sep 5, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Stephan Hoffmann () wrote:
    : Hi,

    : I use XML mainly as a source for HTML. HTML browsers 'know'
    : certain entity references like &eacute; or &auml;.

    : When I use XSL to transform XML to HTML or XML, these entities are replaced
    : by what they refer to.

    : Is there a way to avoid that?

    Perhaps judicious use of the "disable-output-escaping" attribute would

    That attribute can be specified in various template tags, including <text>
    and <value-of> (perhaps others).

    It takes the value of either "yes" or "no".
    Malcolm Dew-Jones, Sep 5, 2005
  4. Hi,

    thanks for the detailed explanation.

    You are right, these are two 'issues', I confused them because
    the Python SAX parser I use replaces both the predefined and the not
    predefined entity references, which is ok. I simply assumed an XSLT
    processor would also replace both, but that assumption is probably wrong.

    I don't know why I prefer &auml; over 'ä', maybe because 7-bit
    ASCI seems to be more portable, but I can't really find a use case
    where 'ä' would be less portable.

    Thanks, Stephan
    Stephan Hoffmann, Sep 6, 2005
  5. It doesn't really make sense to contrast a parser with an XSLT

    An XSLT processor will use a parser to read the document and
    stylesheet, and that parser must replace entity references with the
    characters they represent as it reads the files. Your problem is with
    what happens on *output*: whether the program replaces characters with
    entity references.
    XML parsers have to be able to handle UTF-8, so it won't be a problem
    for any XML tools. It may be a problem for other tools (or humans)
    that only understand ASCII. You can use the encoding attribute on
    xsl:eek:utput to tell the XSLT processor what output encoding to use
    (though it isn't guaranteed to support them all). If you tell it
    to use ASCII and you output a non-ascii character, it should use
    a numeric characters reference. It can't use &auml; when outputting
    XML because in general that won't be defined, so it will output
    ä or ä.

    -- Richard
    Richard Tobin, Sep 6, 2005
  6. Stephan Hoffmann

    Peter Flynn Guest

    Not really: this is what transformation is *supposed* to do.
    Martin suggested some processors might provide facilities for
    doing this, but I haven't seen them in operation.
    The topic is covered in the FAQ at

    Peter Flynn, Sep 7, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.