HTML Validation of Context-Free Languages

Anders Møller and Mathias Schwarz


We present an algorithm that generalizes HTML validation of individual documents to work on context-free sets of documents. Together with a program analysis that soundly approximates the output of Java Servlets and JSP web applications as context-free languages, we obtain a method for statically checking that such web applications never produce invalid HTML at runtime. Experiments with our prototype implementation demonstrate that the approach is useful: On 6 open source web applications consisting of a total of 104 pages, our tool finds 64 errors in less than a second per page, with 0 false positives. It produces detailed error messages that help the programmer locate the sources of the errors. After manually correcting the errors reported by the tool, the soundness of the analysis ensures that no more validity errors exist in the applications.

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