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The JSF spec (2.1) requires in section 10.3.1 that "The runtime must ensure that EL expressions that appear in the page without being the right-hand-side of a tag attribute
are treated as if they appeared on the right-hand-side of the value attribute of an <h:outputText /> element in the http://java.sun.com/jsf/html namespace." This should also work in this case.
This text is problematic with respect to c:set and friends.
I suggest we soften the above language to make it clear that we don't need to have UIOutput instances in the tree. Rather, we just need it to render as if we did.