html Tidy…

…stay clean — it's !important…

the assistant…

HTML Tidy is instructed to clean up my code, change all problematic Norwenglish characters into proper entities, and ensure well-formedness. It does a great job at it. Recommended.

I may run a page through the W3C validator service from time to time, but I see no point in it unless both HTML Tidy and I get stuck on one of my many typing-flaws.

HTML Tidy can't fix everything, or correct all my flaws. Nevertheless, it is the best piece of software I have for web design. It is the only software I will recommend, unconditionally, for serious web designers. More info: w3c/html tidy.

Note: never trust editor-vendors settings for HTML Tidy to result in anything useful. Tidy made useless by default is what you can expect.


I use what is probably one of the worst pieces of editor-software that has ever been released. It's so bad that I won't mention its name in public. It's almost as bad as FrontPage... (yes, I am serious)

Its WYSIWYG-editor is spitting out tag-soup of the worst kind—not to mention the generated CSS, and one can spend a long afternoon cleaning up after it and reduce the amount of code to less than 1/3. So, I never use it in WYSIWYG mode.

It will add deprecated attributes to many elements, and there's no way to turn that garbage-production off. Manual cleaning is the only way – it has become a routine.

My editor doesn't recognize all image-formats, so I have to wade through all file-types to find the image I'm looking for. The list of shortcomings goes on and on and on…

So why not get a better editor? Well, those I've tried add another problem; they are too helpful. I'm not handicapped, and I hate assistive software without "off-buttons" more than anything. The only reliable solution is to delete such "assistive" software completely, so that's what I do.

A “windows®notepad” is my prefered CSS-editor, and there's no helpful assistant built into that one – thank God. Much faster than any alternative, and I can write whatever I like into my stylesheets. Lucky me...

one good tool…

My (x)html editor comes with the original HTML Tidy attached. That makes it work for me. Once I had the "Convert to xml" option up and running, the rest of that no-good editor was reduced to the bare minimum for handwritten code.

This line in the source-code says all worth saying about my editor-tools.
<meta name="generator" content="HTML Tidy for Windows (vers 1st January 2002), see" />
(maybe time for an upgrade, but…)

When I tried to find a new, somewhat decent, HTML editor while upgrading hardware and software in November 2010, I was almost shocked to find that there weren't any good candidates around. After having tested a few and given up on them because none allowed me to write my code as I wanted “right out of the box” and were either very difficult or impossible to fix, I downloaded the optional plug-ins that my old editor need in order to work on latest windows operating system. From there on it was business as usual, and I'm not complaining.

I've gotten so used to the old editor now, that I can't come up with any real good reason to change. I'm not even considering Dreamveaver or any other WYSIWYG editor, and the other source-code editors I've tried haven't resulted in better or faster coding. They are all too helpful.

I will go so far as to say that all WYSIWYG editors and most source-code editors are handicapping web designers by default – and should not be used by anyone who wants to learn web design in depth and to really master it. We are designing for browsers, and WYSIWYG-editors are completely useless as substitutes for the real thing – in my opinion, of course.

I have the luxury of many screens attached to my work-station, so I view my work directly in several browsers at once. No WYSIWYG can beat that – it won't even come close.

Tidy at work…

Regardless of whether HTML Tidy is used as part of an editor or as a stand-alone, this is the command-lines that makes it do the job for…me:

Convert to xml
tidy-mark: false
wrap: 120
quote-marks: true
uppercase-tags: false
fix-backslash: false
literal-attributes: true
numeric-entities: true
output-xml: true

It doesn't look like much, does it? Well, an ordinary, well-written "sweet little floating xhtml page" doesn't need much either, so no need to complicate the command-settings.

Tidy made useless by default

All examples of HTML Tidy included in editors that I have seen so far, are made useless upon delivery. HTML Tidy will stay useless until we give it a proper set of commands for the tasks we want it to perform.

do it yourself, or suffer

Failing to correct those commands is just fooling ourselves, and blaming an excellent piece of software for the failure isn't going to help on HTML Tidy's performance and the resulting quality of our work. Blame those editor-vendors instead, as they are the ones that have invalidated HTML Tidy.

If we need HTML Tidy to do more or do something differently, then we can add or alter a whole bunch of command-lines. HTML Tidy comes with dozens of predefined command lines. One should, or rather must, go through them all and make sure they are set right for the job.

HTML Tidy is a good piece of software that does what it is told, so we better tell it what we want it to do. However, we only have to tell it once for each type of job and save the settings, so taking the time to get it right is time well spent.

habits may become habits…

Another reason for sticking to "manual mode" is my need for complete understanding. It's bad enough having to deal with browser-bugs, so I don't need editor-bugs on top of it. The ability to do more with less has always appealed to me … even though it might not be apparent if you read my code.

I activate HTML Tidy once every few minutes, just to make sure I don't miss anything while writing. It's a useful habit, so I think I'll keep it.

More than 8 years since I started using the original HTML Tidy now (as I write this addition), and I'm still using it. Don't know how many revisions and variants that have been released over the years, all I know is that the original still serves my needs better than any other I've tested. So, doesn't look like I'll be changin version any time soon.

The XHTML 1.0 I still use – and still serve as HTML since Internet Explorer doesn't support XHTML, is of course handled perfectly by HTML Tidy. The HTML 5 oriented code I'm sometimes marking up in now – using XHTML syntax, is of course no problem either, and as HTML Tidy is given new HTML 5 elements to check for it grows with the job.

The “relationship” continues, and I can't come up with a single good reason to break it no matter what anyone says or does to convince me that the original HTML Tidy is old and obsolete. But, although everything works fine around here, I can't help but wonder how many years it will take before anyone comes up with something that actually works better – for me.

sincerely  georg; sign

Hageland 06.nov.2004
08.nov.2007 - Tidy command code revised and text corrected in a few places.
20.nov.2010 - wrote "still running Tidy" notes and upgraded markup here and there.
last rev: 20.nov.2010

html Tidy…

I've been using the original Tidy for 8 years now, and it hasn't let me down yet.


  • introduction
  • Table of Content


  • this is PTL web-design
  • CSS sledgehammer
  • accessibility
  • Print enhanced page
  • Projection enhanced
  • Small Screen enhanced page
  • validity of xhtml and CSS
  • html tidy
  • Opera and me
  • Firefox vs. IE
the usual
  • the author
  • Copyright
the unusual
  • Molly speaks up
the additional
  • Examples
  • Demo pages


I just killed another browser-bug…
…only a few dozen left…


What are you mumbling about…
…I just killed a few dozen "human bugs" in your code…

Dear web design experts:

I didn't invent doctype swithing, but it works for me.

No, HTML Tidy can't correct my CSS-errors.
It's about HTML… see?
– Got to be something left for me…

Yes, HTML Tidy comes in many versions and on most platforms.
No excuse left for not using HTML Tidy.

external resources:

…2005 - 2010
updated: November 2010