on the philosophical aspects of a specification

Andrea Censi andrea at censi.org
Tue Mar 4 15:44:49 EST 2008

> I think what is trying to be said here is that in creating the spec you

> can't lose the original focus of what Markdown is all about. Users

> (such as myself) don't really care that much about how the html is

> generated (breaks and explicit paragraphing are the domain of the

> parser). What we care about is that the original intent of our written

> source is maintained. It is very easy when creating a formal spec to

> lose track of the original intent and thus the usefulness of the tool.

> If I need to track exactly how many spaces I am allowed to use at the

> beginning of the line for certain implied formatting (like lists) then I

> am losing focus from the content I am writing, which is the exact

> opposite of what Markdown was created for.

I don't understand this line of reasoning that already came up on the list.

As a user, don't you want that the same input correspond to the same
output using a different Markdown interpreter? For example, you
compose your blog post offline and preview it using Maruku, and then
you post it to your Movable Type blog that uses Markdown.pl. You
really want that the HTML generated is the same.

This is possible only if we agree on an unambiguous specification.

> If Markdown ends up diverging by creating too many rigid rules then

> users such as myself will just end up finding another tool.

Now, that a specification be unambiguous doesn't imply that the
"rules" are "rigid" from the point of view of the user. I think this
is the misunderstanding for many people; I hope we can get past it.

> My $.02 CDN ($.02014US :)

Oh, my opinion counts more (0.02 EUR = $0.03 ).

No, wait, now I get paid in dollars :-(

Andrea Censi
PhD student, Control & Dynamical Systems, Caltech
"Life is too important to be taken seriously" (Oscar Wilde)

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