evolving the spec (was: forking Markdown.pl?)

Thomas Nichols nichols7 at googlemail.com
Fri Feb 29 11:52:02 EST 2008

Waylan Limberg wrote on 2008/02/29 15:56:

> With all this discussion about evolving the spec, I think we want to

> remember the philosophy behind Markdown to begin with. Go re-read the

> Overview[1] of the syntax rules.


... snip ...

> Take the discussion a short time ago on this list regarding whitespace

> allowed at the start of a list item. A quick read of the rules would

> indicate the the `*` or number should be the first item on that line.

> In practice, markdown.pl allows up to 3 spaces at the start of a list

> item. While J.G. agreed (IIRC) that that probably is a bug that should

> be fixed, we learned through the course of that conversation that a

> number of people actually are relying on that "bug" as a "feature",

> and in fact, if the "bug" was "fixed", their documents would break.


FWIW, I (as a humble Markdown user) am in that group. Why? Because it is
how I _expect_ a list to be formatted in ASCII, and I tentatively
suggest may be what many others expect also. Certainly it's a form I've
seen used widely. If I'm not thinking about "correct markdown syntax",
but just "what comes naturally" when writing a quick email; I might say

Cases in point:
* Feynman
* Dirac
* Bohr

without thinking about inserting an extra line before the list to ensure
that it gets correctly processed, aligning asterisks with zero indent so
they get correctly processed, yada yada. Part of the joy of markdown
(that sounds a little over-caffeinated) is precisely the laxity that
makes it, I gather, so hard to implement.

> think Markdown 2.0 is a good idea. By moving to 2.0, we don't have to

> worry about backward compatibility (Markdown 2.0 should not allow

> those 3 spaces).

That's one of the scarier suggestions I've read today. So all my
documents would need to be pre-processed to conform to the new
markdown-2-0-strict syntax? May I ask why?

Having a spec/ruleset/syntax definition seems an admirable goal; does
this necessarily imply that, for example, you should not be able to
begin a list item with zero to three spaces, at your discretion? This
seems rather at odds with the overall theme of your mail, with which I
heartily agree.

Please bear in mind I know nothing about the implementation complexity
of this: if it is infeasible to have such a loose approach, I'll still
write in Markdown instead of DocBook/HTML, and will simply learn the
"new" syntax.

-- Thomas

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