Click here to Skip to main content
Click here to Skip to main content
Go to top

A C# class to make your ASP.NET pages XHTML valid

, 4 Nov 2004
Rate this:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.
A C# class to make your ASP.NET pages XHTML valid.

Latest update (V1.1)

Fixed a bug in the ConvertToLowerCase method that was not working with tag with attributes.

Introduction

This article presents a simple class that can be used to adjust the HTML code generated by ASP.NET in order to make it a valid XHTML document.

A valid XHTML document is a document that has been successfully tested using the W3C Markup Validation Service (see http://validator.w3.org). This free service checks XHTML documents for conformance to W3C recommendations. This is not only useful to guarantee that your site will be correctly managed by any W3C compliant browser, but this kind of compliance could also be a specific requirement coming from your customer.

The problem

The problem is that if you try to create a XHTML document using ASP.NET, you will probably fail since the code generated by the ASP.NET engine is not XHTML.

Just create a simple ASPX page and then run the W3C validator. Here is a list of errors you will find:

Uppercase tags

XHTML is all lower-case and it is case sensitive. Tags like HTML or HEAD are undefined for the XHTML validator. For this kind of problems, you could simply fix it by hand editing the HTML directly using the Visual Studio editor. Unfortunately, each time you add a new control on the page and you go back and forth from the design to the HTML view, the Visual Studio editor make the tags HTML and HEAD all uppercase.

Self-close tags

In XHTML (as in XML), all the tags must have a correspondent close tag or they must be self-close. Tags like <br> or <link href="style.css" rel="stylesheet"> are not XHTML valid. You should use <br /> and <link href="style.css" rel="stylesheet" /> instead.

Deprecated attributes

Some valid HTML attributes have been deprecated by XHTML. For instance, the name attribute is substitute by the id. If you take a look at the ASP.NET HTML code, you will see the following script (that is actually used to handle the ASP.NET postback mechanism).

<form name="Form1" method="post" action="Index.aspx" id="Form1">
<input type="hidden" name="__EVENTTARGET" value="" ID="Hidden1"/>
<input type="hidden" name="__EVENTARGUMENT" value="" ID="Hidden2"/>
<input type="hidden" name="__VIEWSTATE" 
  value="ReuDDhCfGkeYOyM6Eg==" ID="Hidden3"/>

<script language="javascript">
       
function __doPostBack(eventTarget, eventArgument) {
   var theform;
   if (window.navigator.appName.toLowerCase().indexOf("netscape") > -1
   {
      theform = document.forms["Form1"];
   }
   else {
      theform = document.Form1;
   }
   theform.__EVENTTARGET.value = eventTarget.split("$").join(":");
   theform.__EVENTARGUMENT.value = eventArgument;
   theform.submit();
}
</script>

The form attribute name need to be removed in order to make this code XHTML compliant.

Note that this code is generated only when the page is created. You have no way to change it at design time.

Mandatory attributes

The above script has another problem. In the script tag, the type="text/javascript" attribute is missing. This attribute is mandatory according to the XHTML specification.

Misplaced attributes

Still considering the content of the Form1, the hidden input tags are not correctly placed. In fact, according to XHTML specifications, an input tag has to be inside one of the following tags: "p", "h1", "h2", "h3", "h4", "h5", "h6", "div", "pre", "address", "fieldset", "ins", "del".

The solution

A possible solution is to intercept the HTML code just before it is sent to the client web browser and make the needed corrections.

XHTMLPage class

The XHTMLPage class inherits from the System.Web.UI.Page class, and it overrides the Render method.

protected override void Render(HtmlTextWriter output) 
{
   StringWriter w; 
   w = new StringWriter();
            
   HtmlTextWriter myoutput = new HtmlTextWriter(w);
   base.Render(myoutput);

   myoutput.Close();

   m_sXHTML = w.GetStringBuilder().ToString();
            
   ReplaceDocType();

   switch (m_XHTMLFormat)
   {
      case _XHTMLFormat.XHTML10_Strict:
         ConvertToXHTMLStrict();
         break;
      case _XHTMLFormat.XHTML10_Transitional:
         ConvertToXHTMLTransactional();            
         break;
   }
            
   output.Write(m_sXHTML);
}

In the XHTMPage::Render method, first of all, the base class method base.Render is called using an instance of a new HtmlTextWriter object that has been created locally. The HtmlTextWriter is based on an underlying StringWriter object; in this way, the HTML code generated by ASP.NET can be placed inside the m_sXHTML string and then it can be treated.

The methods ConvertToXHTML… take care of replacing the non-valid XHMTL parts with equivalent XHTML code.

Make your page XHTML valid

In order to make any ASP.NET page an XHTML valid page, you just need to inherit from XHTMLPage instead of System.Web.UI.Page.

public class Index : XHTMLPage
//public class Index : System.Web.UI.Page

The XHTMLPage can be configured using the XHTMLFormat property; this can be set to Strict or Transitional (that is the default) in order to make the page valid according to the XHTML Strict or SHTML Transitional specification.

base.XHTMLFormat = XHTMLPage._XHTMLFormat.XHTML10_Strict;

Conclusion

Here I presented a problem that you may meet when trying to get a valid XHTML page using ASP.NET. Could be that this problem will be solved in the next version of Visual Studio, but in the mean time, I presented a simple solution you may find useful.

In the sample code I attached, I did not care too much about performance, but it is obvious that parsing the HTML generated by ASP.NET takes some time.

Credits

  • sebmafate helped me in extending and fixing the class functionality.

History

04-Nov-2004

  • Fixed a bug in the ConvertToLowerCase method that was not working with tag with attributes.

13-Oct-2004

  • Automatically convert to lowercase all tags and attribute names.
  • Added support for XHTML Frameset specification.
  • Added support for encoding and language XML attributes.
  • Added support for CDATA attributes.

27-Sep-2004

  • First version.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

Share

About the Author

big71
Web Developer
Italy Italy
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

 
GeneralThe REAL Solution PinmemberLonely Rolling Star28-Jul-07 9:00 
GeneralRe: The REAL Solution PinmemberRodrigo Kono .1-Aug-07 6:33 
GeneralDoes not handle closing tags Pinmembermaxgyver_sk22-Feb-07 11:58 
QuestionUsing with AJAX and third party componenets? PinmemberSameers (theAngrycodeR )8-Jan-07 14:49 
Questionwhat about __viewstate field? PinmemberTomislav B.18-Sep-06 9:45 
AnswerRe: what about __viewstate field? PinmemberMika6-Dec-06 0:31 
GeneralRe: what about __viewstate field? PinmemberMichael Nero9-Sep-09 7:24 
GeneralRendering inner text as lowercase Pinmembertcstom18-May-06 6:43 
Generalvb.net and html 4.0 Pinmemberfoued6922-Mar-06 22:32 
GeneralSome suggestions Pinmemberorcastorm30-Jun-05 20:25 
GeneralPerformance PinsussAnonymous18-Apr-05 13:06 
Generals PinsussAnonymous7-Apr-05 0:49 
GeneralSome Improvements PinsussMardoek W7-Mar-05 2:57 
GeneralRemoving invalid attributes Pinmembermajic197818-Feb-05 1:18 
GeneralSlight bug with FixStyle method. PinmemberMike Tong30-Nov-04 0:18 
GeneralRe: Slight bug with FixStyle method. Pinmemberbig7130-Nov-04 2:48 
QuestionVB? PinsussKarl Phillips19-Nov-04 2:27 
AnswerRe: VB? Pinmemberbig7119-Nov-04 23:40 
General[Message Deleted] PinmemberRobert Sindall17-Feb-05 8:49 
GeneralRe: VB? PinsussLou Vanek18-May-05 13:20 
General[Msg Deleted] PinmemberRobert Sindall18-May-05 23:20 
General[Msg Deleted] PinmemberRobert Sindall18-May-05 23:58 
GeneralReplace DOC TYPE don't runs PinsussAnonymous6-Sep-05 6:16 
GeneralRe: Replace DOC TYPE don't runs PinsussAnonymous6-Sep-05 8:07 
GeneralRe: Replace DOC TYPE don't runs Pinmemberfoued6923-Mar-06 4:13 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.

| Advertise | Privacy | Mobile
Web03 | 2.8.140916.1 | Last Updated 5 Nov 2004
Article Copyright 2004 by big71
Everything else Copyright © CodeProject, 1999-2014
Terms of Service
Layout: fixed | fluid