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XSS vulnerabilites are the most common types of security vulnerabilities in web applications and in order to avoid them you must escape potentially unsafe data before presenting it to the end user. Pebble provides autoescaping of all such data which is enabled by default. Autoescaping can be turned off, in which case Pebble provides an escape filter for more fine-grained manual escaping.


Autoescaping, which is enabled by default, will automatically escape the outcome of expressions contained within print delimiters, i.e. {{ and }}:

{% set danger = "<br>" %}
{{ danger }}

{# will output: &lt;br&gt; #}

The raw filter can be used to prevent the autoescaper from escaping a particular expression. It is important that the raw filter is the last operation performed in the expression.

{% set danger = "<br>" %}
{{ danger | raw }}

{# will output: <br> #}

If the raw filter is not the last operation performed within the expression, the expression will be deemed as possibly unsafe by the autoescaper and will be escaped. For example:

{% set danger = "<br>" %}
{{ danger | raw | uppercase }}

{# will output: &lt;BR&gt; #}


There are a few exceptions where expressions are not automatically escaped:

  • If the expression only contains a string literal, it is assumed to be safe. For example:
{{ '<br>' }}

{# will output: <br> #}
  • The last operation contained within that expression is a filter or function that explicitly returns safe output. Such a filter or function would return an instance of SafeString instead of a regular String. The built-in filters that return safe markup include: date, escape, and raw. These filters must be the last operation performed within the expression in order for their output to be ignored by the autoescaper. For example:
{% set danger = "<br>" %}
{{ danger | uppercase | raw }}

{# will output: <br> #}

Autoescape Tag

The autoescape tag can be used to temporarily disable/re-enable the autoescaper as well as change the escaping strategy for a portion of the template.

{{ danger }} {# will be escaped by default #}
{% autoescape false %}
	{{ danger }} {# will not be escaped #}
{% endautoescape %}
{{ danger }} {# will use the "html" escaping strategy #}
{% autoescape "js" %}
	{{ danger }} {# will use the "js" escaping strategy #}
{% endautoescape %}

Disabling Autoescaper

PebbleEngine engine = new PebbleEngine.Builder().autoEscaping(false).build();

Manual Escaping

If autoescaping is disabled you can still use the escape filter to aid with manual escaping:

{% set danger = "<br>" %}
{{ danger | escape }}

{# will output: &lt;br&gt; #}


When escaping data it is crucial that you utilize the correct escaping strategy depending on the context of the data. By default, the autoescaper and the escape filter assume that you are escaping HTML data. I highly recommend reading the OWASP Cheat Sheet to understand the significance of escaping context.

Pebble provides the following escaping strategies:

  • html
  • js
  • css
  • url_param

You can use the autoescape tag to temporarily change the strategy used by the autoescaper otherwise you can change the globally used default strategy:

PebbleEngine engine = new PebbleEngine.Builder().defaultEscapingStrategy("js").build();

The escape filter will also accept a strategy as an argument:

var username ="{{ | escape(strategy="js") }}";

Custom Strategy

You can add a custom escaping strategy by implementing EscapingStrategy and adding it to the EscaperExtension:

PebbleEngine engine = new PebbleEngine.Builder().addEscapingStrategy("custom", new CustomEscapingStrategy()).build();