CSE HTML Validator Std/Pro v7.00 BETA 1 Documentation

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Edition Support Key

Main Screenshot

Labeled screenshot of main editor

Getting Started

Welcome to CSE HTML Validator! CSE HTML Validator Standard/Professional is a powerful HTML, XHTML, CSS, accessibility, link and spell checking tool for web developers. The HTML Tidy Tool, included in the standard and professional editions, is capable of automatically fixing certain issues and converting HTML to XHTML. In addition, it can also reformat your HTML/XHTML pages to be more readable. CSE HTML Validator Lite is a free tool but is limited compared to the professional and standard editions. The lite edition does not include the HTML Tidy Tool, does not support CSS, accessibility and link checking nor does it feature the thorough syntax checking of the professional and standard editions.

Most of this program should be self explanatory so that it should not be difficult to "jump in" and begin using HTML Validator to check your documents. But first, you may want to learn about the features of HTML Validator's integrated editor (new window), which you'll probably be using to edit and correct the problems that HTML Validator finds in web documents. However, you don't have to use the integrated editor. You may instead choose to use an editor or application that integrates with CSE HTML Validator.

(Pro, Std, Lite) IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BEGINNER MODE: CSE HTML Validator Std/Pro defaults to "beginner mode". When in this mode, some settings may be made to simplify the use of the program. For example, validations default to "errors and warnings only" mode so that fewer validation messages are generated. To toggle "beginner mode", please choose Options->Beginner Mode.

Validating Documents

Validate a URL

To validate a document on the hard drive or on a network drive, follow these directions:

  1. Make sure that CSE HTML Validator is running. It can be launched from the Start Menu.
  2. Open the document in HTML Validator's editor by doing one of the following:
  3. When the document is loaded into HTML Validator's editor, it can be validated by doing one of the following:

The results of the validation will appear in the Results Window. If you are using the professional or standard edition, then select the Messages tab in the Results Window to see the main validation messages. If you are using the lite edition, then there are no tabs that you can click on in the Results Window. Click on a message in the Results Window to view the complete message in the message box and to make HTML Validator highlight the part of the document that caused the message to be generated. Note that not all messages when clicked will cause a part of the document to be highlighted because not all messages have an associated character and line number. Some messages, such as comments, do not have an associated character and line number and will not cause any part of the document to be highlighted when the message is selected. To navigate through the messages, simply click on them with the mouse or use Alt+Up and Alt+Down (Up and Down refer to the cursor keys).

(Pro, Std, Lite) In the professional and standard editions, there is also a Grouped tab. This tab helps to separate more important messages, such as errors and warnings, from the less important messages. Error and warning messages will normally be concentrated in the Messages tab while less important messages are normally concentrated in the Grouped tab. The Grouped tab also groups messages by category for easier viewing. If you would like the messages that appear in the Grouped tab to also appear in the Messages tab, then please check the option to do so in the Editor Options.

(Pro, Std, Lite) In the professional and standard editions, there is also a Styles tab that shows messages generated by the CSS style checker. The CSS style checker can check CSS embedded in HTML and XHTML documents as well as external style sheets. The style checker can be disabled in the Validator Engine Options. If style checking is disabled then no messages will appear under the Styles tab.

(Pro, Std, Lite) In the professional and standard editions, there is also an Accessibility tab that shows accessibility messages generated by the validator. The validator engine can help check documents for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) compliance as well as compliance with US Section 508 federal standards. Accessibility checking may be disabled in the Validator Engine Options. If accessibility checking is disabled then no messages will appear under the Accessibility tab.

After you look at all the messages and edit the HTML document to correct any issues that are found, the document can be revalidated (F6) to update the validator messages. Continue editing the document and revalidating it until the validation results are satisfactory. It is recommended that you start correcting problems at the top of the document. After correcting one or more problems, revalidate the document to see the effect. Often, fixing one problem results in eliminating more than one error message. This is because an error can have a "cascading effect" that causes other error messages to be generated further down in the document.

Disabling Groups of Messages (Pro, Std, Lite)

Labeled screenshot showing a message that can be disabled by disabling flag 10

The numbers in brackets that appear in front of some of the validator messages (like "[10]") refer to flags that can be turned off (disabled) or turned on (enabled). By default, all flags are enabled. If you see a message that you do not want to see anymore on all future validations, then you can bring up the pop-up menu on that message and disable the flag (the pop-up menu is usually shown by right-clicking the mouse on the validator message). Disabling a flag will normally cause the message not to appear again, as well as other related messages. You can always enable any flags that you disable by going to the Validator Engine Options. This capability is a powerful customization feature of CSE HTML Validator Std/Pro and is not included in the lite edition. Learn more about this capability and what the flags do with the included configuration file (new window).

Disabling Individual Messages (Pro, Std, Lite)

Labeled screenshot showing how to disable messages with the message ID feature

Most messages can be individually disabled. Unlike disabling a flag, which may cause many related messages to be disabled as well, disabling a message on an individual basis will not affect other messages. To disable an individual message, bring up the pop-up menu on the message and choose Options for this Message->Disable Message. Note that there are other options as well, such as changing the message type. Most, but not all, messages can be controlled like this.

Printing the Validation Messages

A validation report cannot be directly printed from HTML Validator. However, the Batch Wizard (see below) can be used to print a validation report. The validation messages can also be copied to the clipboard by selecting the appropriate menu item in the pop-up menu of the Results Window. The messages can then be pasted in any editor and then printed using the editor's print function.

Viewing and Checking Links (Pro, Std, Lite)

Labeled screenshot showing how to use the link checker

The professional and standard editions allow you to view and/or check links. To do this, select the Links tab in the Results Window. Note that the links only appear after validating a document. Press the Check Links button to check the links (this button looks like a normal triangular "play" button). When the check is finished, HTML Validator will place a red square in front of all the links that HTML Validator believes to be broken. A yellow square will be placed in front of redirected links. If HTML Validator does not know how to check a link then HTML Validator will place a blue square in front of the link. Note that HTML Validator will only check local file or HTTP links and will do a syntax check on email addresses (email address syntax checking can be disabled). By default, HTML Validator will automatically press the Check Links button for you to check links in the background while you work. You can disable automatic link checking in the Editor Options.

Colored Squares (Pro, Std, Lite)

The colored squares in the tabs of the Results Window show the severity of the content of the tab. For example, a red square indicates error messages or, in the case of the Links tab, it indicates that there are bad links. A yellow square indicates warning messages or, in the case of the Links tab, it may indicate that there are redirected links. A blue or green square indicates no error or warning messages or, in the case of the Links tab, that no bad links were found. You should view the contents of any tab with a red or yellow square in front of it.

Validating a URL

All editions allow you to open and check URLs. To do this, the document must first be loaded into the editor. You can do this by choosing File->Open from the Web. You will need a network connection when opening documents from other computers or from the Internet. Once the document has been loaded into the editor, it can be validated as if it were a document that you opened from a local disk. However, editing and saving the document will not change the document that was sent from the server. You will have to change the original document that is normally located on the HTTP server. Often times this is done by uploading the file to the web server by using an FTP program.

(Pro, Std, Lite) Another way to check URLs and dynamic sites is to use the integrated web browser available in the professional and standard editions. While browsing with the integrated web browser, the source for the document being displayed is shown in an editor tab and can be easily validated. As you navigate through the web, you can also have the source automatically validated after each page is loaded. To do this, make sure that this feature is checked in the Editor Options. Using the integrated editor is a great way to check a web site with dynamic pages such as those made by ASP, CFML, or PHP scripts.


Using the HTML Tidy Tool to Fix HTML/XHTML (Pro, Std, Lite)

Screenshot of the HTML Tidy Tool

The HTML Tidy Tool is capable of automatically fixing certain issues and converting HTML to XHTML. In addition, it can also reformat your HTML/XHTML pages to be more readable. To use this tool, select the document that you want to use it on in the editor (make it the active document) and choose Tools->HTML Tidy or press Ctrl+F11. You can choose to use this tool with or without the dialog box. We recommend that you use the dialog box version until you become more familiar with the tool.

Using the Batch Wizard (Pro, Std, Lite)

Only the professional edition includes the Batch Wizard. The Batch Wizard (accessible from Tools->Batch Wizard or by pressing F2) can be used to generate a validation report in HTML format. The Batch Wizard can generate single or multiple page reports for one or more documents. If you wish, you can then print out the validation report using a web browser.

You can quickly validate documents that are open in the editor with the Batch Wizard. For example, choosing Tools->Validate with Batch Wizard or pressing Shift+F6 will quickly validate the current editor document with the Batch Wizard and allow you to see and print the HTML report generated by the Batch Wizard. This is simply another way to see the results of a validation. To validate all open editor documents, choose Tools->Validate All with Batch Wizard.

When used with a target list, the Batch Wizard can follow links. This lets you use the Batch Wizard to easily check an entire site or part of a site by only adding one target and then following the links in that target. Another feature is the Link Check tool that functions only as a link checker and not a validator. This lets you quickly check the links of a site without having to validate the pages and generate validation reports. Note that the Batch Wizard is designed to check only small to medium-sized web sites. If you have a large site, then it should be checked in parts.


If you have a question using CSE HTML Validator, then you may want to visit the Support Page or the Frequently Asked Questions Page on CSE HTML Validator's web site.

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