RFC: Markdown Table Syntax

David E. Wheeler david at kineticode.com
Fri Feb 27 01:44:10 EST 2009

On Feb 26, 2009, at 6:47 PM, Michel Fortin wrote:

> Perhaps you should mention that you're now forcing a table cells to

> be properly aligned using a monospace font. This in fact makes the

> syntax impossible to use in a proportional font context.


> While it's true that many people use a monospace font and that in a

> text editor you can change the font, I'd like to mention that

> Markdown is also used for writing comments and blog posts in

> textareas not formatted with a monospace font, and for which it may

> not be easy to change the font. Forcing proper alignment makes the

> table syntax unusable in these situations.


> Now, given that cell continuation using colons relies on that proper

> alignment with a monospace font feature (or else you risk mistaking

> colons in the text for column separators), I don't find that syntax

> very satisfying.

Well, they're not mutually exclusive. If we continue to allow the use
of the colon to suggest alignment, and if a user doesn't need to
continue a line, then the existing MultiMarkdown syntax should
continue to work, even with a proportional font. But to get the line
continuation feature, I don't see any way to do it other than
requiring proper spacing.

Of course, I'm so used to looking at database output in a terminal
session using [Consolas][] that I'm sure I'm quite biased when it
comes to spacing tables with a monospaced font.

[Consolas] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consolas

> Allowing `+` as column separator in the header underline looks like

> a good idea though.

Yeah, that alone allows one to simply paste most any output from psql
or mysql and have it just work.



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