Metadata syntax (was Universal syntax for Markdown)

Fletcher T. Penney fletcher at
Mon Sep 19 15:47:24 EDT 2011

On Sep 19, 2011, at 3:28 PM, John MacFarlane wrote:

> I can think of many reasons for putting an abstract into metadata.

> The treatment of the abstract (like that of author and title) varies

> quite a bit depending on the output format. In LaTeX, it goes in

> a special environment; in HTML, it may go in a special DIV; for some

> purposes, you may want to omit it entirely and just store it for

> bibliographic purposes. If the markdown processor pulls it out

> as metadata, then a templating system can put it where it needs to

> go in the final document.


> Now of course, you can always postprocess the output of your markdown

> processor, locate the abstract, and mess around with the result. But that's

> uglier and much harder for end users than the approach above, which lunamark

> takes. Users are more likely to be able to modify a default template

> than write their own XSLT transformations.


> John

I think it is somewhat of an academic debate whether it is better for a templating system to look for an abstract in the metadata, or to check the first <h1> to see if it is called "Abstract." I guarantee the computer doesn't care where it's located... I personally think that the raw markdown document looks much better if the abstract is part of the text than if it is part of a complicated metadata markup scheme.

In any case, my primary point stands. For any consensus to come about, I think we need to agree on the fundamental purpose and philosophy of the consensus we claim to be interested in. Otherwise many of these discussions will continue to occur without much hope of moving forward to any actual outcome/resolution. Then it's just a bunch of us sitting around explaining why we each think our own dog food is the best.

But in the meantime, MMD will continue to march forward --- platform independent processor code (Mac,Windows,*nix, and presumably iOS/Android??) without any external requirements that is lightning fast (Thanks to John's fabulous peg-markdown as a starting point, and Daniel's work on getting rid of the glib2 requirement), a Mac OS X text editor with built-in MMD syntax highlighting, exporting, and editing that I hope to release in the next month or two, and I hope to put together a proof of concept native MMD parser for iOS (built using the same code as the desktop version) if no one else out there beats me to it (which would be a welcome turn of events!)


Fletcher T. Penney
fletcher at

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