Representing '&' in URLs

Robin Cover robin at
Fri Jan 22 19:02:49 GMT 1999

On Fri, 22 Jan 1999, Dan Brickley wrote:

> Hopefully a simple but not too simple query...
> Can anyone point me to a best practice note on representing URLs that
> contain '&' in XML? 
> eg. <ABC DEF="http://abc.def/cgi-bin/"/>
> where we don't want & to generate an error through looking like a broken
> XML entity. (Not sure how this was ever allowed in HTML in the first
> place, but that's another story...)
> is  
>   <ABC DEF="http://abc.def/cgi-bin/;query=bar"/>
> the thing to do?

This makes the syntax valid, but unfortunately, only a few Web servers
will be able to handle this notation.  The same engineers (apparently)
who have designed the software to generate the malformed URLs have
also designed the servers to grok ONLY raw (unescaped) ampersand.  For
the notation you have offered, most processors will choke.  So, as
a document author attempting to compose valid HTML/XML with links
of this kind - you're hosed.

At least, that's been my experience.


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