php-markdown-extra-extended - my humble attempt at extending php-markdown

Alan Hogan contact at
Wed Jul 13 23:33:07 EDT 2011

To be clear, I am 100% focused on this syntax in this email (and probably the last email or two):

[span contents here](class:someClass)

On Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 8:00 PM, David Parsons wrote:

> You're looking at markdown like some sort of intermediate

> language that's not designed for writing; I'm trying to

> use existing constructs to add marginally useful features

> without introducing too much extraneous noise.


> -david parsons

1) I certainly _do_ view Markdown (and all these derivatives) as "designed for writing." Specifically, as designed for authoring -- the distinction in my mind is that the W3C always calls web page document creators "authors." Markdown was created by someone who wanted to use it to author web pages (specifically, content or blog posts, as opposed to full documents), while retaining maximum plain-text readability. Authoring content for the Web has still got to be far and away the #1 use of Markdown (and derivatives).

Is it some sort of intermediate language? Well, "intermediate" would mean it is a middle step between two other languages, whereas Markdown is the first step -- and yes, you are right to imply it can be the "only" step in many cases, but of **course** Markdown text can be thought of a "source" of an output language (typically HTML). Otherwise, we'd all just write in plain text and leave it at that -- no need to build all these converters, right?

2) I can certainly appreciate the desire to keep Markdown text looking as good as possible in the source. Again, that's the point. But I would argue your span syntax is less "[using] existing constructs" so much as creating a new construct that overlaps existing syntax.

I cannot see this being any less noisy than competing syntaxes for the stated purpose.

But I definitely can imagine documents authored to your flavor of markdown subtly failing in other converters which, completely reasonably, assume that the link syntax defines links, not spans with classes or IDs. (Which are patently HTML-specific -- I have no problem with that, but it is puzzling you accuse me of considering Markdown an "intermediate language" as if that were a bad thing as you support 100% HTML-specific features.) The . se other parsers will create hyperlinks to some non-existing "class" protocol. A cursory glance at the converted document will show nothing wrong.

But consider the Maruku-style syntax for adding classes/IDs/attributes to inline elements: Since it invents a completely new syntax with curly braces and a colon, any failures to convert documents authored to such a syntax will be immediately noticeable because of the extra crap/punctuation in the output document.
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