HTML Tidy - Frequently Asked Questions


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HTML Tidy - Frequently Asked Questions


Certain questions about Tidy come up on a regular basis. These are some that have been culled from postings to the and mailing lists. If you don't see your question addressed here, see How To Get Support below.

What Now?

If you have a popup screen that reads as follows:

HTML Tidy for Windows <vers 1st August 2002; built on Aug 8 2002, at 15:41:13>
Parsing Console input <stdin>

and do not know what to do next, read on.

Tidy is waiting for your HTML to come in, so it can parse it. Tidy is fundamentally a tool that reads in HTML cleans it up and writes it out again. It was developed as a program you run from the console prompt, but there are GUI encapsulations available, e.g. HTML-Kit, which you might prefer.

If you are using Windows, the first step is to unzip the zip file and place the tidy.exe file in a folder somewhere on your executables path. You may also want to set up a config file to save having to type lots of options each time you run Tidy. From the console prompt you can run Tidy like this:

C> tidy -m mywebpage.html

In this case, the -m option requests Tidy to write the tidied file back to the same filename as it read from (mywebpage.html). Tidy will give you a breakdown of the problems it found and the version of HTML the file appears to be using.

See also Dave Raggett's User Guide.

If you're not comfortable with the DOS command line, you should try one of the GUI versions:


How To Get Support

For general HTML Tidy support, the original mailing list is best. Sometimes developers are the last to know... Also, this list covers both Java and C versions, not to mention various value-added products such as GUI front ends, Perl and Python integration, etc. If you don't get a response after a couple tries or if you have a bug fix, bump it over to the developer list at It's not a hard line, but that is the general arrangement.

How to Submit A Bug Report

You are encouraged to report bugs you found to the Tidy developer team. Tidy's quality depends on your feedback. You can either file your bug report in the Sourceforge bug tracker for HTML Tidy (recommended) or send a mail to the mailing list at Note you do not have to have a Sourceforge account in order to file bug reports, or be subscribed to in order to post messages to the list.

Prior to submitting a bug report, please check that the bug is not already known. Many are. If you are not sure, just ask. If it is new bug, make sure to include at least the following information in your report:

  • A desciption of what you think went wrong.
  • The HTML Tidy version (find it out by running tidy -v) and operating system you are running.
  • The input, that exposes the bug.
    A small HTML document that reproduces the problem is best.
  • The configuration options you've used. Command line options like
    tidy -show-config to get an overview of the active Tidy settings.
  • Your e-mail address for further questions and comments.

These information are necessary to reproduce whatever is failing, without them we cannot help you. Additional information - and patches - are very welcome!

Please include only one bug per report. Reports with multiple bugs are less easy to track and some bugs may get missed.

How to Submit A Feature Request

If you want Tidy to do something new that it doesn't do today (or stop doing something), then it is probably a feature request.

The process for submitting a feature request is very similar to bug requests. A different tracker is used on SourceForge to denote the difference in subject matter.

As with bugs, please be sure that the feature has not already been requested. If the feature has already requested, you can add your comments to the feature request tracker, or send mail to the mailing list indicating your wish to also have the feature implemented. If the feature has not already been requested, send the same information as for a bug report, but place special emphasis on the desired output for a given input, desired options, etc. - please be as specific as possible about what you want Tidy to do.

What Version of Tidy Should I Use?

The current Source Forge builds - which you can find at - are recommended. People continue to report examples where Tidy does not catch some ill-formed HTML or, worse, generates ill-formed HTML. These cases have been significantly reduced. That said, be sure to test Tidy with some representative files from your environment.

For development work, use CVS directly on your development system. For information on how to pull Tidy sources from CVS. This way you can keep abreast of changes to Tidy and quickly resolve conflicts.

For building a front end (e.g. GUI or Perl wrapper), the simplest approach is to shell out to the command line tool and parse the output. This way, users of your tool can drop in the latest version of Tidy without even a re-link.

The other basic approach is to replace Tidy's main() function with some other calls to use Tidy source as a library. This approach requires more work to synchronize changes with Tidy proper. It is more flexible in deployment, however.