XSLT transformation in ASP: HTML with MSXML3

Most commonly, you’ll use server-side XSLT transformation in ASP to transform XML data into HTML using MSXML3 (available on almost all IIS platforms). The following XSLT stylesheet is used in the HTML test:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0" xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform">
<xsl:output method="html" encoding="utf-8" />

<xsl:template match="root">
      <title>Sample XSLT server-side transformation</title>
      <node type="test">
        Greek letter: <xsl:value-of select="@greek" /> 
        EE: <xsl:value-of select="@ee" />


With MSXML3, the transformNode function inserts a META directive in the output stream, resulting in the following transformation result:

<META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16">
<title>Sample XSLT server-side transformation</title>
<body><node type="test">
Greek letter: β 
EE: č

On the other hand, the HTTP headers generated by the test ASP script claim the content is UTF-8 encoded (and the raw data dump performed with Fiddler confirms that). The response headers were taken from LiveHTTPHeaders Firefox extension:

HTTP/1.x 200 OK
Server: Microsoft-IIS/5.1
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 2008 11:20:56 GMT
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Content-Length: 222
Content-Type: text/html; Charset=utf-8
Cache-Control: private

Most browsers (including IE and Firefox) take the Content-type from HTTP headers, using the META directive as a fallback. They thus render the page as intended. Some browsers (including the TextView tab of Fiddler) prefer the META directive and produce garbage.

The solution

To match the META header with the HTTP headers, replace the charset=UTF-16 string in the text returned by the transformNode function with charset=UTF-8. The modified sample ASP script is included below:

Const DOMClass = "MSXML2.DOMDocument"

Set XSLT = Server.CreateObject(DOMClass)
Set XDoc = Server.CreateObject(DOMClass)

XDoc.loadXML("<root greek='β' ee='č' />")

Response.Charset = "utf-8"
Response.Codepage = 65001
Response.Write Replace(XDoc.transformNode(XSLT),"charset=UTF-16","charset=UTF-8")

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