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mart3862 at yahoo dot com dot au
13 years ago
Now the ultimate truth on how you should output xml processing instructions:

There have been several posts suggesting ways to include the text <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> in your output when short_tags is turned on, but only the following should be used:

<?php echo '<?xml version="1.0" ?'.'>' ?>
or
<?php echo "<?xml version=\"1.0\"\x3F>" ?>

Using one of these methods, and not making use of short tags, means your source code will also be a valid XML document, which allows you to do many things with it such as validation, XSLT translations, etc, as well as allowing your text editor to parse your code for syntax colouring.  Every PHP tag will simply be interpreted as an XML processing instruction (commonly referred to as PI).

The reason why all the other suggested methods are not advisable is because they contain the characters ?> inside the PHP tag, which the XML parser will interpret as the end of the processing instruction.

A processing instruction is defined in XML as:

PI ::= '<?' PITarget (S (Char* - (Char* '?>' Char*)))? '?>'

In other words, it explicitly forbids the characters ?> to occur together within a processing instruction, unless they are delimiting the end of the tag.  It also requires a PITarget (an identifier starting with a letter) immediately after the initial start delimiter, which means that all short tag formats are also invalid XML.

Following these guidelines will result in code that is portable to servers with any configuration and allow you perform many useful tasks on your XML or XHTML source documents.  Even if you do not intend to validate or translate your source documents, and you can ignore some incorrect syntax colouring in your text editor, it is still best to get into good habits early.

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