File Extension Consensus

Arno Hautala arno at
Sun Nov 7 16:01:03 EST 2010

On Sun, Nov 7, 2010 at 15:01, <Bowerbird at> wrote:

>>   why do we need a "standard" anyway?


> for the same reason any file "needs" a descriptive extension --

> so the humans will know something about that file's contents...

I think this is cuts to the reason why Gruber doesn't care to "bless"
an extension.
The way I see it, Markdown isn't meant to take over the format of a
file, it's a way to subtly add information to the plaintext.
Really, the presence of Markdown is metadata, not a file format.

The real reason people want a standard extension is so their
_programs_ know that it can be interpreted, colored, etc. according to
Markdown's syntax.
It's relevant to name XML data as ".xhtml" or ".plist" because it
informs both users and programs as to the content to expect and how to
handle it.
No one opening a text file will be confused if they find Markdown
syntax, it's pure bonus.

In this sense, it makes sense to use ".text", ".txt", or whatever
other plaintext extension is relevant.

A far better solution to identifying files containing Markdown would
be to define an Extended Attribute such as:
Markdown extensions like PHPMarkdownExtra could add data to that
attribute, or define their own, as in: com.michelf.phpmarkdownextra or

This seems like a more appropriate way to identify that "file.txt",
which is plaintext above all else, also contains Markdown

An editor which knows nothing about Markdown won't care about the
metadata and won't be confused by the variety of "non-standard"
extensions, but will display and edit the plaintext just fine.

arno  s  hautala    /-|   arno at

pgp f81c4e00

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