How to Clean an XML Parse Error

by Chuck Robert

XML is a type of code that was "designed to transport and store data," according to the W3Schools website. XML is used for RSS feeds, which is a type of software placed on websites that allows people to easily subscribe to forums, blog posts and other forms of content. Unfortunately, the XML can experience a parse error when the feed isn’t well formed and fails to follow XML specifications. With parsing errors, the computer is in the process of translating programming code. When there's a single error in the coding, the entire code can be thrown off, preventing the computer from running the code. Unfortunately, the error message isn't always specific on what's wrong with the code.


Learn the proper format of XML. XML is a code that works hand-in-hand with HTML. It isn’t used to display code or cause functions to occur. Rather, it serves to store and transport other codes. It uses a tagging system, with the programmer deciding which tags are used.


Look at the line that was reported by the error message, then pinpoint the line of code that's receiving the error. Look for any possible errors in the code.


Make sure the feed has an encoding declaration at the beginning.


Look for whitespace characters, which include tabs, new lines and spaces. These are easy to overlook, since people aren't often trained to look at whitespace. However, they can cause errors in the XML.


Avoid using characters, such as “<” and “&,” which can be changed into other characters that cause a parsing error.


Run debugging software. These programs can often find and fix common bugs. In addition, when setting up the initial coding, use programming language packages that include features that allow you to debug the coding as you create it.


  • check When XML is located on a website, XML or RSS is placed on the website, with these terms used interchangeably. RSS stands for Rich Site Summary and is an XML format designed for displaying changing Internet content, allowing people to keep up-to-date on regularly changing Internet information.


  • close When making major changes to the code, make sure you save a copy of the original code so you can replace the code with the original code--whether you decide to make changes to the XML later on--and then you can return to the last moment when the code was actually working by replacing the damaged code with the original code.

About the Author

Chuck Robert specializes in nutrition, marketing, nonprofit organizations and travel. He has been writing since 2007, serving as a ghostwriter and contributing to online publications. Robert holds a Master of Arts with a dual specialization in literature and composition from Purdue University.

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