A Modest Definition List Proposal (David E. Wheeler)

David E. Wheeler david at kineticode.com
Wed Feb 25 12:37:39 EST 2009

On Feb 25, 2009, at 6:57 AM, Sherwood Botsford wrote:

> One minor change. You don't need pipes in the horizontal separator

> lines. E.g:

> id | name | description | more info

> ====================================================

They could be optional; I prefer them.

> Tables are critters where formatting is tangled with content. And

> with proportional type, a text only system requires agreement on tab

> spacing at minimum to get anything to look right. (I'm not a fan of

> monospace, so all these examples are wonky.)

I think you might be using the wrong markup language, then. The use of
monospace fonts is an expectation for reading Markdown. Really, it's
the whole point.

> Add to this, the need for centering, the need for column spans.


> Allignment could be done with your horizontal separators.


> |-----------| Means use your default alignment. (Same as cell above)

> |<--------| Means left alignment. The < can appear anywhere between

> the |'s

> |---------->| Means right alignment.

> |-----=----| means center alignment.

I dislike these. I have other ideas for alignment, but I need to do
some more thinking and drafting before I have a proposal to submit.

> Column spans could be done by replacing the pipe with an underscore.

> |=========_===========|

> |This is a cell that spans two|

> columns, and is centred.

> |------------------|--------------|

> |Column 1 |Column 2|


> I'm working in a proportional font, so the above example is sure to

> be wonky.

Yes, and basically illegible.

> Note that these two ideas are contradictory.


> To merge, them (makes reading slightly harder, but writing slightly

> easier.


> | Default alignment |

> |< Left Alignment <|

> |> Right Alignment >|

> |= Centered alignment =|


> The alignment tags don't have to be paired, but can be for eye candy

> purposes.



> || Spans two columns of the stuff below |

> | Column 1 | Column 1 |

IMHO, any formatting should be invisible in Markdown. That is, it
should be implicit. The use of all these extra characters to show
alignment and whatnot makes for ugly text-only tables.



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