Text Filter

We have a lot of things like SeText, Textile, ReStructuredText, and our very own TextFormattingRules.

"Text Filter" is a name I'm using here for these the software that converts raw text into nicer HTML (or whatever.) If someone has a better name, who am I to say what the name is?

At any rate.

An inventory of existing text filters and notations:

Conversion Tool

Please contribute to this list, if you know of some.

There are many more that exist, but are built in to some engine or another, and are hard to reuse. (For example, the MoinMoin system is built into MoinMoin. You can work hard to sort of "borrow" it, but you have to work hard.)

A great variety can be found in Unix textproc lists, such as http://www.freshports.org/textproc/ and http://www.freebsdsoftware.org/index.php?c=textproc

Advertising "Local Names" Idea

I'm going to advertise a connected idea I've been nurturing on lately.

I'm personally working on an idea that I call a "Local Names Server." This would make it so that you could use short names, (like we do in wiki,) but accessible from just about anywhere, and that you can point to just about anywhere.

Right now, you can only WRITE a local name when writing in a wiki page, and you can only POINT TO a local wiki page. I'd like it to be the case that from just about anywhere, you can use your group's (or, alternatively, your own) local names. I'd like you to be able to route around a network of local name spaces, like InterLinks?. And I'd like you to be able to point to *anything*- not just registered web pages. For example, if there was a picture of Kyoto that you liked somewhere, you could refer to it as "MyOwn?:Kyoto." Or if someone kept a blog, the group could decide to refer to it by name: "MarshallBrain?" could point to http://marshallbrain.blogspot.com/ . ("What's so special about that?" "Well, Marshall Brain's Blog isn't a wiki page...) If you'd like to help develop this idea: http://intcomm.wiki.taoriver.net/moin.cgi/LocalName

There's a big hole in most text filters, centering around links. Specificly, you can't reuse links across text files. It's my hope that Local Names will be used in various text filters to convenient names to URLs.

Development can be tracked at http://ln.taoriver.net/ .

-- LionKimbro

I thought they were called WikiMarkupLanguage??? I sure don't associate "TextFilter" with this topic, personally.

WikiMarkupLanguage doesn't make much sense to me, because we're seeing these things all over the place, not just in wiki. For example, in a lot of people's blogs, you can leave comments. The comments are run through a text filter, changing "/this/" to "this", and stuff like that. Is that WikiMarkupLanguage? On KuroShin, you can use convenient syntax. Hell, we're moving to using this stuff in in-line software documentation. It's becoming part of our program's source code. Does it really make sense to call it WikiMarkupLanguage?

I suppose we should also differentiate- the TextFilter is the piece of software that performs the translation. The translation itself needs a generic name. A generic name not wiki.

Maybe "ConvenientTextLanguage?," or "HtmlShorthand?," or "AsciiShorthand?," or something like that. (Though, AsciiShorthand? is already taken- it means shorthand systems in ASCII that are similar to GreggScript? in spirit, where you are actually shortening words rather than just HTML markup tags.)

-- LionKimbro

A Text Filter obviously is something that filters text, which is vague enough to include zillions of things, but in particular is clearly an active agent, semantically. The notation used in Wikis, blogs, or whateve, is not something active. Notations are passive.

So TextFilter seems to me clearly to be the wrong name.

You don't like WikiMarkupLanguage because it is used elsewhere than wikis. Fine, but it is a MarkupLanguage.

So I would suggest you call it XyzMarkupLanguage?, for some appropriate choice of Xyz, like Ascii or Simple or Trivial or something.

I actually don't see the problem with WikiMarkupLanguage. Wiki is what popularized the approach, so everyone would know what you mean. It's splitting hairs, IMHO, to worry about the fact that it has spread elsewhere.

-- DougMerritt

I'd be curious to see exactly where the idea is coming from. It's certainly the case that this sort of mindset is sprouting up all over the place. It goes beyond just wikis and blog comments; it's also evident in the design of YamlAintMarkupLanguage, and in RubyLanguage's RDoc documentation tool (RdocFormat), too. -- francis

I don't personally have a problem with WikiMarkupLanguage. I think it's the worlds of other people who won't necessarily want to call it WikiMarkupLanguage. For some reason, it seems unlikely to me that, say, the official Python distribution, if it ever included something like this, would call it "WikiMarkupLanguage."

What do you think about TextMarkupLanguage?? Except, that also describes XML. Maybe SimpleTextMarkupLanguage? (STML?), or BasicTextMarkupLanguage? (BTML?).

I don't like ASCII, because that excludes UniCode.

-- LionKimbro

I've always called this kind of software "pretty printers". They take something that looks like PlainText (as in PowerOfPlainText) and convert it into a pretty format (often HTML). Although some people reserve the term "pretty printer" to something that takes valid (if badly indented) program source code and cleans up the indentation -- and perhaps even converts it into a pretty format (often HTML) with bold and such. -- DavidCary

People at Unicode Consortium meetings, long ago, used to call things roughly along these lines "PlainText++" (clearly short of "rich text"). -- DougMerritt

Some people called the BBS style (*bold*, _underlined_, /italic/) SmartASCII. -- PlainTextForever?

WikiPedia calls suchs things lightweight markup langauges http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightweight_markup_language -- Mr Harris


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