Metadata syntax (was Universal syntax for Markdown)

Tao Klerks tao at
Tue Sep 20 03:15:47 EDT 2011

On Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 1:30 AM, David Sanson <dsanson at> wrote:


> On Sep 19, 2011, at 4:02 PM, Rob McBroom <mailinglist0 at> wrote:


> > Those sound like reasons for the metadata to *identify* the abstract, but

> I see no requirement that it must be literally *stored* there. If the

> metadata contained something like

> >

> > abstract: relative/path/to/abstract.mdown

> >

> > That would allow for all of the above scenarios while keeping the

> metadata syntax/section simple.


> But that makes the document far less portable, and I'm liable to lose the

> extra file at some point. I'd much rather have it be self-contained---not,

> of course, if that means that the document suddenly becomes weirdly ugly and

> complicated, but I don't see anyone proposing a solution that makes

> documents weird and ugly and complicated.



Given that the abstract is actually part of the content (it is generally
printed as part of the document, right?) it would seem more sensible to have
the meta-data refer to a section name/path within the document. We can
probably assume any markdown parser is capable of identifying the content
between a heading and its next same-or-higher-depth sibling. "Abstract"
could be a default value, supporting the "simplest case first"
example Fletcher T. Penney provided above;

This way content is in the right place (in the document, and appearing where
you would expect it to with a simple abstract-unaware markdown converter),
english speakers just write their document, and others can provide the
"abstract" header, without needing to know anything about parsing or
serialization rules.

I realize I'm following up on the least-important aspect of this
conversation, but I do wonder: what are genuine use cases where meta-data
really does contain structured/formattable content that should not be
considered part of the document content? It doesn't look like the abstract
is really a valid case.
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