maybe a year ago, but not today

Bowerbird at Bowerbird at
Thu Oct 20 13:37:36 EDT 2011

sherwood said:

> If agreement is reached, then the group

> looks at variants 6,7,8,9 and inquires

> if they would like to join in this effort.

well, that kind of leveraged consensus would have
been the way to go about this process a year ago.

but not today.

> Has anyone collected a would-be canonical list

> of either the ambiguous cases in original MD,

> or the variants between the versions of MD?

well, i think it has become rather obvious that
macfarlane is the most knowledgeable person
-- by far -- when it comes to these matters...

and, just as above, a year or two back, this would
have been the direction for progress to be made...

but again, not today.


allan odgaard said:

> I see a bigger chance of filling the niche between

> Markdown and reStructuredText that John was alluding to,

> getting traction, and then see that as a new format

> added to their wiki (it already has several), and

> understood when READMEs have the proper extension.

> Then we can also finally mandate a file extension:

> I suggest calling the new format “Markright”

> with “.mr” as file extension :)

well, i would _love_ to hear more from john about that
"sweet spot" that he said he sees... utterly fascinating...

but as for the general outline that mr. odgaard plots?

well, one more time: "in the past, yes, but not today".

here's the deal...

in the dayes of olde, all of the markdown variants were
roughly equal in power, which is why their standoff was
so intractable, and ended up persisting for so very long.

then 6 things happened.

pandoc assessed 'em all, and decided on multimarkdown.
i don't think y'all here appreciated the importance of that.
macfarlane is perhaps _the_ smartest guy in light-markup
and he researched the question carefully, so his decision is
one that we can safely assume to be the wisest one around.

even more importantly, john rewrote the parser. as i said,
i'm not smart enough to fully understand all of the jargon,
but my tenuous grasp on what he did is that he got it right
-- a top-down one-pass model; fast, powerful, and flexible.
perhaps most important, the parser is specific and correct.
it's a simple model that is concrete, easy to grok, and solid.
everything is totally disambiguated, so there's no room for
any of those troubling inconsistencies to creep in and hide.

third, john's model stimulated work done by ali rantakari.


this work was for a _syntax_highlighter_, so it wouldn't be
too important, in and of itself, except for a couple factors:
(1) it used pandoc's parser, and (2) it was _very_ accurate,
fixing the problems that plagued _every_ existing_attempt_
at markdown syntax-highlighting, a tribute to the parser.
ali wrote this up for his computer science master's studies.

ali's work caught the eye of fletcher penney, inspiring him
to make a text-editor for multimarkdown, out any day now.

i'm not sure how it fits in, because i'm pretty sure that it
predated the work by rantakari, but fletcher also changed
his parsing model, changing over to the pandoc method.
i believe john and fletcher actually worked together on it.
so fletcher's parser is fast, powerful, flexible, and accurate.
i believe fletcher will confirm the importance of the change.
once you start doing it right, you realize the wrong way was
well, it was wrong, there's just no other way you can say it.

finally, brett terpstra also came out with "marked", which
displays on-the-fly markdown output for any text-editor.
"marked" can be configured to use any markdown variant,
or even another light-markup system (such as textile), but
the _default_ is multimarkdown. and we're all familiar with
the power of the default, and how very few users change it.
thus, for those "marked" users, markdown is multimarkdown.

so what does all of this mean?

it means that the various markdown variants are no longer
balanced in terms of power. multimarkdown has an edge.
it first gained that edge on the basis of pandoc's decision.

but the edge is going to shoot up immensely _very_soon_,
as soon as "multimarkdown composer" hits the app store...

none of you has shown that you understand the immensity
of having an on-the-fly display while a person is writing...

(i knew it'd be important, so i programmed it for myself,
but it was only _using_ it that i learned it was _immense_.
so my saying that you don't understand it isn't an insult.)

and -- even aside from "composer" -- multimarkdown has
"marked" doing promotional work for it via any text-editor.

what this means is that fletcher has absolutely no incentive
to change what he is doing to accommodate a "consensus"...

now i'm not saying that he's going to be some _asshole_
who is a power-freak and wants to lord it up over people.
it's the opposite, i'd say; he seems like a really decent guy.

but there's _no_ reason for him to change multimarkdown,
especially since he's recently jacked up his investment in it,
and most especially because it's going to pay off big-time...

so for him to change stuff _now_ would be extremely risky.

when you just put the lighted match to the firecracker fuse,
it's not the time to open it up and rearrange the gunpowder.
it's time to run away, safely away, and then turn around and

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