Universal syntax for Markdown

Christoph Freitag mail at christoph-freitag.de
Wed Aug 17 16:29:59 EDT 2011

Am 17.08.2011 um 18:00 schrieb markdown-discuss-request at six.pairlist.net:

Fletcher T. Penney pointed this out:

> I think that for any movement towards a "unification" of the Markdown variants to have a chance of success, the first step is to agree on a core set of principles.


> For example, one of my core principles for MultiMarkdown is taken from Gruber:


>> The overriding design goal for Markdown?s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it?s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions.


Fletcher, sorry, but personally -- despite loving MMD (and even having used MMD CMS for a diary) -- I have never liked the way MMD handles metadata. Partly this is because, not being a native English speaker, I dislike English meta descriptors. A localization could resolve this -- but I still think it looks ugly. However, do you actually need descriptors at all? I doubt it:

* The title could be anything "at the start" of the document. Blosxom is a good example. Anything up to the first blank line is the title.
* After that, anything between the first blank line and the second blank line would be treated as additional metadata.
* Instead of the "Author:" descriptor, explicitely stated, it should suffice to write "by". What follows is the name of the author. (Localization would be easier as only this "keyword" would have to be known to the parser in a number of languages.)
* Dates would be self-explanatory, to a clever parser.
* Any list of words separated by commas on a single line would be treated as tags.
* Any more fanciful meta descriptors might be given explicitly just as in MMD before. This could be left to non-standard, personalized variants of Markdown.

Thus the following would be a valid document:

Test Document for Automatic Metadata Detection

by Christoph Freitag
Markdown, Standardization, MMD, Metadata

A Markdown document may contain metadata in a human readable form that the parser converts to a machine readable form of metadata automatically. A casual reader will understand the content directly and without distraction. Bowerbird will love this.

Best regards,
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