underscore and italic policy

Michel Fortin michel.fortin at michelf.com
Sat Jul 1 09:43:32 EDT 2006

Le 30 juin 2006 à 16:51, A. Pagaltzis a écrit :

> The only reason that this hasn’t changed, I think, is that

> unfortunately no new releases have happened in a long time.

I'm not sure that's the only reason. John has been reluctant to
change this part of the syntax now that we're past version 1.0 and
that some people may be using that particular feature.

In my opinion, the backward compatibility argument has merit,
especially since in some languages (like Japanese) "words" aren't
separated by a space character like in western languages. Such a
change would break any emphasis already written with underscores in
these languages; someone would have to either manually edit all of
the texts to change underscores to asterisks or stick to the current
version of Markdown.

On the other side, I admit that I've changed the behaviour when
making PHP Markdown Extra and got only positive comments about it.
This particular problem seems to pop up regularly both on this list
and in emails I receive. I think this was the main reason I decided
to implement the change to my "Extra" syntax, were backward
compatibility was less of an issue.

Here is what I think could be a good, long-term solution: Markdown
(the syntax) could change and remove underscore-emphasis within words
while Markdown (the tool) could offer a "backward-compatible mode"
preserving the old behaviour. This would solve the issue while still
giving the possibility to upgrade Markdown to those relying on the
old syntax, with the only hassle of setting a configuration variable.

Michel Fortin
michel.fortin at michelf.com

More information about the Markdown-Discuss mailing list