A Modest Definition List Proposal (David E. Wheeler)

Waylan Limberg waylan at gmail.com
Wed Feb 25 21:51:51 EST 2009

On Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 8:34 PM, Seumas Mac Uilleachan
<seumas at idirect.ca> wrote:

> David E. Wheeler wrote:


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

>>> 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.


> Wait, what? Monospace is an expectation?!? I have never used monospace in my

> e-mail programs. Isn't THAT the main expectation of Markdown? That it

> approximates e-mail writing?


Well, I wouldn't say monospace is an expectation, but Markdown does
rely heavily (perhaps more so than most) on whitespace. It just so
happens that that whitespace is easier for the human eye to "read"
when the text is monospace. However, yes, email is rarely written in

Of course, on most cases, the white space is all at the beginning of
the line (code blocks, lists) and the different levels of indent are
still discernible when not in monospace. So, when the comment is made
that the "examples are wonky" because they are not in monospace, then
IMO, the proposed syntax fails.

We all know that Markdown is to be readable first, writable second. If
every reader of the document must read it in monospace, then that's
not readable first - it's writable first.

I'd also like to point out JB comments [1] that Markdown it supposed
to cover only a common subset of HTML. If your trying to represent
something more complex, then you need to use HTML. I would say
multiline table cells fall into that "more complex" category. I know
I'm never going to use any of this overly complex syntax that has been
proposed thus far. I'll just write some raw HTML for my table and be
done with it quickly.

Don't get me wrong, if I have some vary basic tables that can easily
be represented with the simplest syntax, then sure, I'll use something
link PHP Extra's. Anything more than that will get raw HTML.

[1]: http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/syntax#html

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Waylan Limberg

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