Proposed table specification (long!)
waysoftheearth at yahoo.com.au
Tue May 10 23:54:14 EDT 2011
Thanks for your additional comments Fletcher.
If the proposed syntax overly complicated, I am very happy to simplify it.
The question is whether or not the following is really complicated?
THE PEOPLE OF MIDDLE-EARTH
People Homeland Tongue
Elves Rivendell, Quenya,
Dwarves Erebor Khuzdul
Hobbits The Shire, Westron
Sure, if you want the rowspan and/or colspan features you will have to use
the ruled cols and/or ruled rows form. But those are optional features that
many authors might use only rarely. Likewise, a particular implementation
could choose to either support/not support those optional features. But at
least there would be a potential upgrade path from the most basic table
support to the fullest table support.
The proposed specification is only verbose because I decided to illustrate
every feature individually with an explicit example. If you prefer I could
give the entire proposal in one or two examples instead.
The issues around editors and mon-spacing are bigger than this proposal, so
I won't attempt to address those here.
Thanks again for your ever insightful comments Fletcher ,
On Wed, May 11, 2011 at 11:47 AM, Fletcher T. Penney <
fletcher at fletcherpenney.net> wrote:
> Since you asked, here are my own personal thoughts - others most
> likely disagree....
> The syntax seems a bit complicated - I didn't compare, but I suspect
> the length of your explanation approaches or exceeds the entire
> Markdown syntax guide. I realize that you are trying to offer some
> flexibility, but that can get tricky.
> The other challenge is "editability" - with most of the complex table
> formats out there, it would be very tedious to actually create and
> subsequently modify a table by hand. I will grant you that this as
> much (or more) a problem with editors than the syntax. And one could
> create plugins for certain editors (e.g. TextMate) that could do the
> formatting for you. But this seems to be straying outside the bounds
> of what makes Markdown so great. (Again --- just my opinion)
> But I think the biggest issue is the monospace vs proportional font
> problem. This plagues every proposed table syntax out there (to my
> knowledge) --- tables just aren't going to look right in both font
> types in plain text files. Proper alignment is a key feature of
> tables, and it's frustrating when this is destroyed by changing the
> That said, the elastic tabstop idea proposed by Nick Gravgaard offers
> a tantalizing solution to this problem. In text editors that
> supported this concept, it would be trivially easy to align columns of
> text that worked for both monospace and proportional fonts. Columns
> would automatically realign when you changed the length of a given
> In general, I believe there is a trade-off between simplicity and
> functionality. My preference is not to sacrifice (much) simplicity
> for the sake of functionality --- I believe MMD's table syntax is
> about as far down that curve as I am willing to go. Others may be on
> the other end of the spectrum.
> Where true genius comes is being able to merge simplicity with
> functionality (e.g. the iphone). I'm not saying a great solution for
> the Markdown/Table dilemma doesn't exist. I just don't think I've
> seen it yet. But I agree with you that continuing to generate new
> proposals is a good idea.
> On Tue, May 10, 2011 at 9:22 PM, Simon Bull <waysoftheearth at yahoo.com.au>
> > Hi Fletcher,
> > Should I assume that you mean the proposed syntax falls short in one or
> > of the four categories you identified?
> > If you care to elaborate on some of these short-comings I would be very
> > happy to alter my proposal in order to meet the needs of a wider
> > That was in fact the purpose of proposing it at all.
> > Thanks for your comments,
> > Simon
> Fletcher T. Penney
> fletcher at fletcherpenney.net
> Markdown-Discuss mailing list
> Markdown-Discuss at six.pairlist.net
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