Universal syntax for Markdown

Alan Hogan alanhogan at gmail.com
Wed Aug 10 18:23:32 EDT 2011

On Aug 10, 2011, at 3:08 PM, Arno Hautala wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 16:29, David Chambers

> <david.chambers.05 at gmail.com> wrote:


>> I don't understand why a significant number of people in this community feel

>> that Markdown is a special case and that each of us should be responsible

>> for extending it as we see fit.


> It's largely because Markdown is open source, so anyone can change it,

> but the owner is happy with where it stands, so the official line is

> static.

I can't disagree, though I have one quibble. Open source ≠ fragmented standard. PHP is open source, but there is no MultiPHP, no wildly different versions of PHP for Windows vs Mac (analogous to JavaScript Markdown vs Ruby Markdown libraries, say).

> The various forks could indeed get together and come up with a single

> standard, but it would have to distinguish itself from Gruber's

> Markdown.

This is how I see it as well. We just need someone to officially brand a fork (an unsanctioned successor). No doubt it would be significant work, coordinating efforts from interested implementors, documenting the standard, shepherding test cases… but that person would have my complete respect.

I suppose I ought to put my money where my mouth is by throwing my hat into the ring. The two big reasons why I would not be an ideal leader are:

1. I am a start-up co-founder and most of my free time goes there. Furthermore I have not been a very active maintainer of my most popular open-source project. Thus it may be that I do not have as much time as would be ideal, or perhaps even sufficient.

2. I have not ever *written* my own Markdown implementation, though I have used several over the years (and once fixed a bug in an old version of Michel Fortin’s PHP Markdown Extra, though it turns out he already fixed it in a newer version, IIRC).

These are not trivial drawbacks.

On the bright side:

1. I love documentation

2. I love standards

3. I love Markdown

4. I have written relatively simple parsers before — once in BNF (defined a SQL variant), and once in C for a school project.

Your thoughts are welcome. Superheroes better suited to the task at hand are even more welcome. I am thinking of a few of you whom I would gladly follow into Markdown fork-land.

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