A Modest Definition List Proposal

David E. Wheeler david at kineticode.com
Wed Feb 18 15:36:56 EST 2009

On Feb 18, 2009, at 12:19 PM, Waylan Limberg wrote:

>> Comments? Has this ship already sailed?


> You make a convincing argument. And I must admit your proposal is very

> nice to look at/read/write.

Thank you.

> But if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


> The current implementation was set before I came along some few years

> ago, and I have never searched through the archives to see how it came

> about or why. But, people have been using it for this long without

> issue and there are already numerous existing documents out there that

> use it, so I see no reason to change it. In fact that last point

> (numerous existing documents) seems to be the de-facto response to any

> suggested changes on this list - and understandably so. No doubt

> that's why you suggested leaving the existing syntax in place, but

> then we would have two ways to define deflists. What happens when an

> author mixes the two? Ack! Yeah, this ship has sailed IMO.

I don't think it's a problem to have two different kinds of bullets
for definition list items; after all, you can already use +, -, or *
for unordered lists. And you can mix them without penalty, so the same
would be true here.

FWIW, the change to MultiMarkdown.pl to make this work would just be

--- bin/MultiMarkdown.pl.orig 2008-01-18 15:08:43.000000000 -0800
+++ bin/MultiMarkdown.pl 2009-02-18 12:28:47.000000000 -0800
@@ -2559,7 +2559,7 @@

my $definition = qr{
\n?[ ]{0,$less_than_tab}
- \:[ \t]+(.*?)\n
+ [:~][ \t]+(.*?)\n
((?=\n*[ ]{0,$less_than_tab}\S)|\n\n|\Z) # Lookahead for non-space
at line-start,
# two returns, or end of doc

Plus documentation, of course. Doesn't get much simpler than that.

Thanks for your reply.



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