thoughts on predefining links

John Gruber gruber at
Sat Mar 13 00:08:07 EST 2004

Jason Clark <jason at> wrote on 03/10/04 at 5:10p:

> One of the things I'd like to do with Markdown on my Blosxom blog is to 
> maintain a list of common link references as a standalone file, and 
> have that file always be referenced.  For example, I'd like to have a 
> "links.txt" file that looks like:
> [markdown]: "The Markdown 
> Project Home Page"
> [blosxom]:
> [del]:
> ....

That's a fine idea. But.

> These would be links I tend to refer to very often.  I am nothing if 
> not lazy.

Indeed, laziness is a virtue:


> There are two ways I can go here - Blosxom-specific or 
> Markdown-specific.  On the blosxom side, I can use the include plugin 
> (or similar mechanism) to read the file and include it in every story, 
> prior to Markdown running as a blosxom plugin.  The downside here is 
> that the list of links get processed for every story.  In my default 
> view, there are 10 stories on a page.

I'm not familiar with the way the Blosxom Include plug-in works, but
my guess is that this wouldn't incur much overhead at all, unless
your shortcut file was ridiculously large. I mean like really,
really huge. Apache's server side includes, as well as PHP's, for
example, are, for the purposes of all but the highest-traffic web
sites, instantaneous.

> Before I proceed, just thought I'd see if there's any interest in 
> making this more general pupose.  I intend to offer a patch with my 
> changes for those who wish to use them, but If there's already a plan 
> for similar functionality (or an interest) I'd rather write it to fit 
> the plan the first time.

The problem I see with generalizing this is that I don't see how you
could generalize the storage and location of the shortcut file.

Right now, is just one file -- no config files, and no
dependencies on Perl modules that don't ship with the standard Perl

I mean, you're certainly welcome to modify to do this if
you want, but to me it seems much cleaner to use some other method
of including a list of standard shortcuts. In other words, let
Markdown just be Markdown: plain text in, HTML out. Nothing else.

But I really do think it's a good idea, so no matter how you
implement, I'd like to hear about how, and I hope you write it up.

John Gruber          |              Daring Fireball
gruber at    |

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