Although it’s not recommended to use short tags < ? instead of “< ? php" in PHP, but sometimes when short_open_tag are set to “off” on server, and when you do need to enable them to make your php application work, you can either enable short php tags in your php.ini file or in .htacess file.
I had to deploy an application over Joyent smart machine, and I managed to enable short php tags using htaccess method.
To enable in .htaccess file
php_flag short_open_tag off
To enable in php.ini file
To enable this feature on your web server, open php.ini file (this should be somewhere /bin/php/phpx.x.x/php.ini), find the “short_open_tag” and change it to:
short_open_tag = On
Please note that you should enable php short tags as a stop-gap step, and should replace all short tags with full php tags to your application more compatible and secure.
Hope that helps.