on the philosophical aspects of a specification

david parsons orc at pell.portland.or.us
Tue Mar 4 13:15:10 EST 2008

In article <47CD5989.2020006 at idirect.ca>,
Seumas Mac Uilleachan <markdown-discuss at six.pairlist.net> wrote:

>david parsons wrote:

>> In article <d5d.1e15ea7e.34fdd932 at aol.com>,

>> <markdown-discuss at six.pairlist.net> wrote:

>>> however, implementers can reach agreement easily,

>>> by leaving users out in the cold, brushing them off

>>> with a "you will need to follow the spec" which seems

>>> -- if i understand markdown's cornerstone correctly --

>>> to be outside gruber's comfort range for his creation...

>> If a user says "I want paragraphs to start with an explicit

>> paragraph symbol and all newlines to force a <br/>" , I *will* brush

>> them off with a "you will need to follow the spec" because that's not

>> how Markdown works. I can't imagine any other way to actually write

>> the language.

>[...] What we care about is that the original intent of our written

>source is maintained.

I'm not surprised when

1986. What a great season.

generates a list item, because the existing spec tells me that

``[...]a _number-period-space_ sequence at the beginning of a line[...]''

will trigger an ordered list.

But what's the intent of ***hello*, sailor** ?

Should it produce
1. <strong><em>hello</em>, sailor</strong>
2. <strong>*hello*, sailor</strong>
3. *<strong>hello*, sailor</strong>
4. ***hello<em>, sailor<strong>
5. ***hello*, sailor**
6. <em><strong>hello</strong></em><strong>, sailor</strong>
7. <em><strong>hello</em>, sailor</strong> (which makes baby XML cry) ?

How about **Hello, sailor ?

Is it <strong>Hello, sailor, **Hello, sailor, or <em></em>Hello, sailor?

And how about _________cut here_________ ?

Formal specifications are written to avoid surprises in the
implementations; As a user (and there's no way I'd have written an
implementation if I wasn't a user) of the language I'd like to avoid
surprises when I go between the markdown documents on my website,
posts on my weblog, or posts on someone else's wiki and/or weblog.

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