Proposed table specification (long!)

Simon Bull waysoftheearth at
Thu May 12 18:30:19 EDT 2011

Thanks for your well considered comments Dr.Drang,

I will take them on board along with all the others.


On Fri, May 13, 2011 at 2:33 AM, Dr. Drang <drdrang at> wrote:

> I'm late to the party, but I do use tables in Markdown quite often, so…


> Apart from the complexity of implementation, Fletcher's point about

> monospaced and proportional fonts is the main objection to the

> proposed syntax. I always use monospaced fonts, but not everyone does,

> and Markdown is meant to accommodate everyone.


> Michel's point about editing tables is also spot-on and ties into the

> monospaced/proportional problem. Frankly, getting the proper alignment

> when writing a table for the first time, even when using a monospaced

> font, is a pain in the ass. Maintaining alignment when editing is even

> harder—your example of adding a full line to one of the columns covers

> only the simplest case.


> The great thing about Michel's table syntax is that it allows you to

> avoid these annoyances. You can align the columns if you want, but

> you're not forced to. I happen to prefer aligned columns, which is why

> I wrote this little script,




> to do the alignment for me. But that's done outside of Markdown

> itself; it's just a way of satisfying my anal retentiveness, not a

> prescription for others.


> Also, I'd like to address your use of rules within the table. Markdown

> generates straight HTML—styles are left to the user's CSS. By adding

> features that put borders in the table, you're inserting styles into

> Markdown itself, which I think is a mistake.


> Let me end by saying that I've always thought John was wrong not to

> include a provision for tables in Markdown, and Michel's syntax

> probably can be improved, so I welcome this discussion. But if tables

> are to be included they should be simple, in keeping with Markdown's

> overall approach. Markdown is not intended to handle every situation,

> just the most common ones. The table formatting you've presented is

> far more complex than the formatting Markdown does in other areas and,

> I would argue, is beyond what Markdown should do.


> Regards,

> Dr. Drang

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