My term for any lite-markup approach to ASCII/PlainText to add some structure/style.

  • argh, shouldn't really use ASCII in name since it could be UTF. But UTF makes my head hurt, esp in terms of URI creation.

Possible contexts:


I wish a standard (Wiki Standards) would converge on this, so you could learn one set of conventions for all areas. see Meatball Wiki:WikiMarkupStandard.

Why do this at all, vs a GUI (HTML) editor?

  • in some contexts this wouldn't make sense (e.g. in programming Source Code)

  • in some environments it might not be available (e.g. on a PDA).

  • "fancier" standards tend to change - you could just update your SmartAscii renderer to re-generate HTML v2, HTML v4, XHTML, XML, PDF, etc.

  • for public/risky sites taking user text, avoids Security risks around XSS, plus avoids ugliness from users not closing tags properly. (Note that some SmartAscii variants allow HTML to be included, which destroys this benefit.)

Some areas to compare:

  • tags for inline styles (e.g. bold, italic)

    • can you nest them (have an italic sentence with a bold word in the middle)?
  • bullet points, ordered lists, etc.

  • sections/headers

  • hrefs

    • auto-linking URLs (accurately handling odd URL characters like percent, comma, amp, etc.)

    • making it possible to "hide" URLs behind a label like an href does

  • image URLs turned into 'img' tags?

  • support for tables? (for tabular data, not fancy layout)

  • escaping style tags

  • also allow HTML in the document? Mix within the same line?

    • what about HTML form tags?
  • things can get extra messy when you want to render WikiWord cases within such a document.

** evaluating alternatives**

Aug'2007: considering choice to use with Robaccia

  • currently using PikiPiki, not fan of the lots-of-single-quotes model

  • Structured Text: already in my WikiLog

    • annoyed by italics getting broken by pasted-in non-low-ascii chars (like curly quotes) - but that may be code issue, not spec issue

    • don't like single-quote breaking italics, since pasted-in text often uses them

    • don't like single-square-brackets having meaning, since they are often used as normal punctuation

  • Re Structured Text?

    • sublists need 2 spaces per level

    • ugh, the hyperlinks syntax is horrible, having to move them to a separate line

    • I'd still consider it if there was an existing converter for Structured Text, but I haven't seen one.

  • WikiCreole: not supported much yet

    • Oct'2009 update: it has more support now (e.g. in Pinax/Django Wikiapp, and MoinMoin), so looking at it

      • not bad in general

      • hmm can't have double-linebreaks between sublist items (though seem to be ok between level-1 bullets)

  • Textile: poor performance

  • Mark Down: blech I hate the syntax

Fall'2009: Cloning Zwiki With Moinmoin - used MoinMoin tag style, with some modifications.

Oct'2012: 2012-10-25-FutureOfMarkdown

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