elastic tabstops, proportional fonts, and more

Sherwood Botsford sgbotsford at gmail.com
Fri Feb 27 10:26:18 EST 2009


Nice rant.

I sympathize. Ain't going to happen.

In a nut shell, you're proposing that browsers interpret a whole new
language. A simpler one than html, but non-the-less a new language.
That new language is weak compared to html, in the sense that by
itself it can't say, "Float this picture on the right side, resize it
to 40% of the column width, put this line on top as the title, put
these two paragraphs underneath it as the caption, and put a hairline
border around the entire thing."

I'll point out that RTF is far richer than markdown, RTF editors are
simple for the masses to use, but RTF has not caught on as a browser
presentation format. Nor has SVG for graphics, although it would
allow you to do things that html can't. Nor has Math ML despite there
being no good way to present mathematics in a browser.

Markdown allows people to write without worrying about layout. Even
this table stuff is a bit over the top, but tables in the day of
typewriters were always a pain. (I'm dating myself...) I suspect
that the Babylonian scribes cursed tables in their time.

I agree that there is a lack of good simple easy ways to make content
for an entire site that doesn't get you wrapped up in endless fiddling
with the navigation links, and the presentation, AND is easy for a
non-tech to use. There are a raft of CMS systems out there. None are
trivial to set up for a non-technical person. And for that non-tech
to *change* the site style is a very metal container of bass bait.

At present Markdown fills a gap, and gives us a middle ground between
working with straight html with paired tags for every sneeze, and
products like dreamweaver with their wysiwyg view, but producing
bloated non-standard html that is hard to integrate into any but a
static site.

By the way: If you succeed in your project how would like to take on
the next biggie: Regularize English spelling?
Sherwood Botsford
Sherwood's Forests
Warburg, Alberta T0C 2T0

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