Progress on text/markdown at IETF 91

Sean Leonard dev+ietf at
Tue Nov 11 18:44:50 EST 2014

Hello Markdown Community:

There was discussion and progress on text/markdown at IETF 91. Here are slides:

and here are the interim minutes:

The view is that the syntax parameter of draft-03 should be simplified to a parameter currently called “variant”, which is a simple US-ASCII case-insensitive identifier. Other considerations are discussed on the apps-discuss IETF mailing list. The proposal was posted last week, and is below.

I will work on draft-04 over the next couple of weeks.



Optional Parameters:
variant: An optional identifier that serves as a “hint” to the recipient of the specific Markdown variant that the author intended. When omitted, there is no hint; the interpretation is entirely up to the receiver and context. This identifier is plain US-ASCII and case-insensitive. People who want interop can optionally register them using a simple webform (IANA registry), which just asks for the Identifier, a Description, and Contact Information. If a receiver does not recognize the variant identifier, the receiver MAY present the identifier to a user to inform him or her of it.
Other parameters MAY be included with the media type. The semantics of such parameters MAY be defined by the variant; they are not defined here. As an alternative, the variant MAY be registered under another media type; this text/markdown registration does not preclude other registrations.

With the text above in the registration template, pretty much all of Section 3 (draft-03) would be eliminated. Additionally, Section 6 (IANA Considerations) would be cut down to about 1/3 of its current size.

"Variant" means a lightweight markup language that differs in some respect from other Markdown-derived languages. The purpose of a variant is to distinguish a given variation from other Markdown variations, as well as from Gruber's original syntax specification and implementation, where two parties wish to interoperate by implementing the common variation.

The IANA Registry shall be called "Markdown Variants". The intent of this name is to broaden the uses of variant identifiers, so protocols that do not rely on Internet media types can still tag Markdown content with a variant name. For example, a file can be named "file.pandoc.markdown", which could have the equivalent meaning as "Content-Type: text/markdown; variant=pandoc". (Credit goes to Michel Fortin for suggesting that the classification of variants have broader value than just the media type registration; for example, in content management systems that do not use media types to classify formats.)

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