A Modest Definition List Proposal (David E. Wheeler)

Michel Fortin michel.fortin at michelf.com
Thu Feb 26 05:01:57 EST 2009

Le 2009-02-25 à 22:00, Dr. Drang a écrit :

> 1. Regular Markdown--by which I mean Gruber's Markdown.pl--looks

> good[^1] regardless of whether you're using proportional or

> monospaced fonts. I can't think of any construct in which the width

> of the characters makes a difference.

Well, if you want list items spanning on multiple lines to align
properly, it's pretty hard to do with spaces using a proportional font.

1. List item
spanning on more
than one line.

> 2. Plain text tables almost always look like crap *unless* you're

> using a monospaced font, because columns always include a mixture of

> visible characters and spaces. I suspect this is one of the reasons

> Gruber hasn't put tables into Markdown.pl.

You can sometime use tabs in proportional fonts in some situations. It
helps aligning things correctly, and not only for tables, but also
with the list item example above.

Although if you later view it with a different font it'll probably
look like crap too.

> 3. Markdown was not intended to cover every situation; it's meant to

> be a simple, readable substitute for simple (X)HTML. In this spirit,

> we shouldn't expect table additions to Markdown to be able to handle

> every type of table, just the simpler types. I like the table syntax

> of PHP Markdown Extra and MultiMarkdown for this reason.

That's in part why I'm reticent to add a new type of table with cells
spanning on multiple rows to PHP Markdown Extra.

> 4. Using a script[^2] to align the pipes of a plain text table is

> very practical if you're writing in a monospaced font. You can write

> and edit the table quickly without regard to alignment, then make it

> readable by applying the script to it. It's much easier to make

> tables this way than to type them out in HTML.

Indeed. I never though of that, but it's a good idea.

That said, it's pretty easy to write a properly-aligned table without
a script too. I've been doing that for some time.

Michel Fortin
michel.fortin at michelf.com

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