Expression web span lang tags

Does Expression Web (version 1 or 2) add <span lang=”something”> tags (“lang spans”) to everything you type in design view? It nearly drove me crazy with this behavior and the many language-related options in different menus, but after I figured out what was going on I actually came to appreciate this feature (when working on multilingual sites).

Why does xWeb do this?

Try this: Select some text and go to Tools > Set Language and choose – let’s say – Alsatian. You should see xWeb adding <span lang=”gsw-fr”> to your code. This will always happen unless your entire page is marked to be in Alsatian with lang=”gsw-fr” xml:lang=”gsw-fr” in the html element or using <meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”gsw-fr” /> .

So, anytime the language of some text on the page does not match the language for the entire page, xWeb adds the lang spans.

BTW, you can set the meta tag by going to File > Properties > Language > Mark current document as though it seems the language information specified in the html tag takes precedence over the meta tag when xWeb decides on adding the lang spans (thanks to Cheryl D Wise for the link to the W3C FAQ and to MrMox for pointing out that the meta tag alone doesn’t always solve lang span issue).

This doesn’t explain why xWeb adds the spans when I just type text on my keyboard!

It appears that whenever you type something, xWeb checks the input language your system is using and sets the language of your text accordingly. This means you get the same result as if you were to select Set Language from the Tools menu, triggering the same effect as described above: If the input language doesn’t match the document’s language, xWeb adds lang spans.

How do I switch this off?

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a simple “never add lang spans” option. You can find some possible answers on the web (e.g. here and here), but they didn’t work on all of our systems.

So what do I do? Type only in code view?

I don’t recommend this as you might make mistakes with html entities (like typing & instead of &amp;). Instead, go to your Windows Control Panel > Regional and Language Options > Languages > Details and make sure that all input languages which are specified on your page are available (otherwise, add them).

Example: In my company, we’re working with Swiss-German keyboards on websites which are mostly in English (en-us or en-gb), German (de-de) or French (fr-fr):

Now when I edit a page which is in German, I just have to make sure that the correct input language is selected:

Voilà, no more lang spans! Furthermore, if I wanted to add some text in English, I could simply switch the input language and xWeb adds the lang span, which means I can easily check the spelling on a page with multiple languages (and voice browsers should pronounce the text correctly, too).

Is that all?

No, it gets even better! If you’re editing an existing page where the language has been set, you can go to Tools > Page Editor Options > General and select Automatically switch keyboard to match language of surrounding text. Expression Web should now select the right input language automatically for you (hey, this saves you two mouse clicks!).

Thank you, everything is working now! You’ve just increased my productivity by at least 200%!

You’re welcome. Here’s the my Amazon.de whishlist. 😉

Wait, it still isn’t working!!

All right, I got this working on three very different systems, using xWeb1 and 2 as well as Win XP and Vista x64. It’s no longer an issue casing trouble for us, we did, however notice behavior which can only be described as weird (or buggy) from time to time. For instance, it is perfectly possible to have a page were no language meta tag is present (and no language is assigned in the html tag), but a language is nevertheless set under File > Properties > Language.

You could also try experimenting with the language related options below which I haven’t mentioned so far (just don’t ask me what they’re supposed to do) or ask for help on the Expression Web forum:
Tools > Page Editor Options > General > Default Page Language
Site > Site Settings > Language

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