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From Mark Thomas <>
Subject Re: On escaping of EL in attributes (BZ 57136)
Date Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:12:00 GMT
On 06/11/2015 11:47, Christopher Schultz wrote:
> Mark,
> On 11/5/15 4:34 AM, Mark Thomas wrote:
>> On 05/11/2015 08:48, Mark Thomas wrote:
>>> On 05/11/2015 05:05, Konstantin Kolinko wrote:
>>>> Hi!
>>>> I happened to stumble on the following entry in changelog for 6.0.19:
>>>>       <fix>
>>>>         Fix various edge-cases when parsing EL, particularly inside attribute
>>>>         values. Note that the Expert Group has confirmed that JSP.1.6 takes
>>>>         precedence over JSP.1.3.10. Therefore EL in attributes must be escaped
>>>>         twice. (markt)
>>>>       </fix>
>>> Wow. I have absolutely no memory of that at all.
>>> Let me see if I can dig up the discussion that provided that confirmation.
>> OK, found it. Having a precise date range to work with made it a lot
>> easier. Apologies in advance as I have the feeling that this is e-mail
>> is going to be on the long side.
>> Back in 2009, I, acting on behalf of the Tomcat community, raised this
>> via a challenge to the JSP 2.1 TCK using the following examples:
>> <test:echo text="${"hello world"}" />      <-- The spec requires this
>> <test:echo text="${\"hello world\"}" />    <-- The TCK expects this
>> To put this in the current context, the fix for BZ 57136 implements the
>> first form.
>> Our TCK contact discussed it with the JSP lead and the conclusion was
>> that the second form was the correct one. The reason given was that the
>> second form is valid XML whereas the first form is not.
>> I queried this on the grounds that the grammar is explicit that the
>> second form is correct and that the spec also states that the grammar
>> takes precedence.
>> The response was that a request would be made to clarify the spec.
>> No such clarification was made in JSP 2.2 or JSP 2.3.
>> Which brings us to where we are today. The spec says one thing, I assume
>> the TCK tests for something else (I don't have access to the later JSP
>> TCK versions), we have a private clarification from 7 years ago that the
>> spec is wrong and the two versions of the spec since then have not
>> included any related correction.
>> In the past we have used the following order of precedence when the
>> specs have been unclear:
>> - what the EG intended based on their discussions
>> - what the TCK tests for
>> - spec language
>> However, this order has only been used where we required clarification
>> rather than when there were inconsistencies. Also, more recently, I have
>> seen the view expressed with the EGs that it doesn't matter what the EG
>> discussed, the specification language always takes priority even if the
>> language does not reflect what the EG intended.
>> To summarise:
>> In favour of form 1:
>> - it is consistent with the spec
>> - EGs have recently expressed the spec takes precedence
>> - There have been two releases of the JSP spec since the issue was
>>   raised and the spec has not been updated
>> In favour of form 2:
>> - it is well-formed XML
>> - it is what the TCK tested (tests?) for
>> - the spec lead expressed the view this was the intended behaviour
>> - Up until the BZ 57136 fix, Tomcat did it this way
> Neither of these are well-formed XML due to the presence of the embedded
> quote characters in the attribute value. Or, are you talking about
> attribute values *after* XML-un-escaping occurs (in which case they
> would both be valid XML)? XML does not recognize the common \ character
> as an escape.
> (This doesn't get us any closer to a decision, but it eliminates one of
> the slight advantages to form 2.)

Fair point. I was just repeating a response I got back from Oracle. I
suspect the test case was slightly different.

>> At this point, I don't see a clear argument one way or the other.
>> I've looked through the open JSP spec issues:
>> and I don't see anything for this. I do see a lot of very old issues
>> that don't appear to have been looked at for some time.
>> Given the lack of clarity of the which behaviour is correct, I think we
>> have little choice but to make this optional and that we should get this
>> done before the next 8.0.x release. I intend to start working on that in
>> trunk today.
> Well, the TCK behavior simply must be implemented or we won't pass it.
> Are we actually under any obligation to pass the TCK?

No, because Oracle and the ASF have yet to agree a new license agreement
for the TCK,

If we did have the TCK we could challenge it again (on the grounds the
spec was never updated so surely that must mean the spec is right and
the TCK is wrong)

> On the other hand, nobody ready the TCK... only the spec.


> So most users will expect form 2. 

If they read the spec carefully enough (and to be fair it took me
several days of reading and re-reading the relevant bits to get to the
point I was happy that I understood what it meant) they should expect
form 1.

> So I guess we need to have a mode-switcher? It's
> either that, or fail the TCK and/or anger some significant subset of users.

Things are sufficiently messy between the spec, the TCK, 'clarification'
from Oracle and Tomcat's previous behaviour that I agree both forms need
to be supported. The new quoteAttributeEL init param for the JSP servlet
does exactly that.


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