Co-developers wanted: document markup language

Discussion in 'Python' started by Torsten Bronger, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. Hallöchen!

    Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    description, however, we could need some help.

    If you are interested, visit the provisional project page at
    http://latex-bronger.sourceforge.net/gummi/

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    Crosspost & Followup-To: comp.lang.python
    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 23, 2007
    #1
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  2. Torsten Bronger

    Aahz Guest

    In article <>,
    Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >
    >Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    >language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    >description, however, we could need some help.


    http://docutils.sourceforge.net/
    --
    Aahz () <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

    "If you don't know what your program is supposed to do, you'd better not
    start writing it." --Dijkstra
    Aahz, Aug 23, 2007
    #2
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  3. Hallöchen!

    Aahz writes:

    > In article <>,
    > Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >
    >> Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    >> language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    >> description, however, we could need some help.

    >
    > http://docutils.sourceforge.net/


    The provisional project page already points to
    http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html which is sufficient I
    think.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 23, 2007
    #3
  4. Torsten Bronger

    Aahz Guest

    In article <>,
    Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >Aahz writes:
    >> In article <>,
    >> Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >>>
    >>> Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    >>> language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    >>> description, however, we could need some help.

    >>
    >> http://docutils.sourceforge.net/

    >
    >The provisional project page already points to
    >http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html which is sufficient I
    >think.


    My point is that docutils already exists; given the combined competition
    from LaTeX and docutils and OpenOffice, you should probably explain what
    differentiates your project and why people should support your project
    instead of (or in addition to) others.
    --
    Aahz () <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

    "If you don't know what your program is supposed to do, you'd better not
    start writing it." --Dijkstra
    Aahz, Aug 23, 2007
    #4
  5. Hallöchen!

    Aahz writes:

    > Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >
    >> Aahz writes:
    >>
    >>> Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >>>
    >>>> Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    >>>> language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    >>>> description, however, we could need some help.
    >>>
    >>> [...]

    >
    > My point is that docutils already exists; given the combined
    > competition from LaTeX and docutils and OpenOffice, you should
    > probably explain what differentiates your project and why people
    > should support your project instead of (or in addition to) others.


    reStructuredText, AsciiDoc, and some others focus on source code
    documentation, or on software documentation. In contrast to that,
    our markup should be suitable for PhD theses, papers and the like.
    Thus, it has weaker means for code snippets, RFC citation etc, but
    rich syntax for bibliographic entries, index entries, math, and
    floating figures. Additionally, input methods simplify using
    characters like δ, ⇒, or â€.

    The differences to LaTeX are explained comprehensively on the
    webpage, and actually LaTeX is the real competitor rather than
    reStructuredText. OOo isn't a plain text format, and has no strong
    semantic markup.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #5
  6. Torsten Bronger

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> writes:
    > The differences to LaTeX are explained comprehensively on the
    > webpage, and actually LaTeX is the real competitor rather than
    > reStructuredText.


    TeX/LateX have been around forever and are well established standards,
    as awful as they are. Why do we want ANOTHER markup language? We
    need fewer, not more.
    Paul Rubin, Aug 24, 2007
    #6
  7. Torsten Bronger

    Evan Klitzke Guest

    On 8/23/07, Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    > Hallöchen!
    >
    > Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    > language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    > description, however, we could need some help.
    >
    > If you are interested, visit the provisional project page at
    > http://latex-bronger.sourceforge.net/gummi/
    >
    > Tschö,
    > Torsten.


    I briefly looked over the specification, and it looks like you're
    targeting a LaTeX backend. Are you planning on outputting to LaTeX and
    using that to generate e.g. PDF versions of documents, or do you plan
    to have a real PDF/Postscript backend?

    --
    Evan Klitzke <>
    Evan Klitzke, Aug 24, 2007
    #7
  8. Hallöchen!

    Paul Rubin writes:

    > Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> writes:
    >
    >> The differences to LaTeX are explained comprehensively on the
    >> webpage, and actually LaTeX is the real competitor rather than
    >> reStructuredText.

    >
    > TeX/LateX have been around forever and are well established
    > standards, as awful as they are. Why do we want ANOTHER markup
    > language?


    Well, because they are awful. ;-) I don't see that there is a
    bunch of already existing projects, in fact, I don't see anyone
    challenging LaTeX at all. However, competition is a good thing, and
    I think there are enough aspects about LaTeX that can be done better
    so that this project is worth being done.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #8
  9. Hallöchen!

    Evan Klitzke writes:

    > On 8/23/07, Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >
    >> Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    >> language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    >> description, however, we could need some help.
    >>
    >> If you are interested, visit the provisional project page at
    >> http://latex-bronger.sourceforge.net/gummi/

    >
    > I briefly looked over the specification, and it looks like you're
    > targeting a LaTeX backend. Are you planning on outputting to LaTeX
    > and using that to generate e.g. PDF versions of documents, or do
    > you plan to have a real PDF/Postscript backend?


    Yes, I plan to use LaTeX as a mere backend slave for getting PDFs.
    I will *try* to keep the LaTeX readable but mostly for debugging
    purposes. I don't think that a native PDF backend is helpful on the
    short run because LaTeX just works well for this (I don't like
    LaTeX's usability but I do like TeX's typesetting abilities).

    There is another way to get PDFs which I certainly want to give a
    try sometime, namely XSL:FO.

    However, I don't know how feasible direct PDF output is. I'm
    somewhat scared by line breaking algorithms, hyphenation and all
    this, though.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #9
  10. Torsten Bronger

    olive Guest

    >
    > Well, because they are awful. ;-) I don't see that there is a
    > bunch of already existing projects, in fact, I don't see anyone
    > challenging LaTeX at all. However, competition is a good thing, and
    > I think there are enough aspects about LaTeX that can be done better
    > so that this project is worth being done.


    What about ODF ? (http://www.odfalliance.org/)
    Isn't it a good competitor ?

    Olive
    olive, Aug 24, 2007
    #10
  11. Torsten Bronger wrote:
    > Hallöchen!
    >
    >

    Yes, you're German. Have you ever noticed that (we) Germans are
    virtually the only ones that feel the need to rub our nationality into
    everyones faces? ;)


    > Paul Rubin writes
    >
    >> TeX/LateX have been around forever and are well established
    >> standards, as awful as they are. Why do we want ANOTHER markup
    >> language?
    >>

    > Well, because they are awful. ;-) I don't see that there is a
    > bunch of already existing projects, in fact, I don't see anyone
    > challenging LaTeX at all. However, competition is a good thing, and
    > I think there are enough aspects about LaTeX that can be done better
    > so that this project is worth being done.
    >

    Well there is ConTeXt <URL:http://wiki.contextgarden.net/>. I've never
    actually used it, but from reading the docs I deem it a very attractive
    alternative to LaTeX.

    /W
    Wildemar Wildenburger, Aug 24, 2007
    #11
  12. Hallöchen!

    olive writes:

    > [...]
    >
    >> Well, because they are awful. ;-) I don't see that there is a
    >> bunch of already existing projects, in fact, I don't see anyone
    >> challenging LaTeX at all. However, competition is a good thing,
    >> and I think there are enough aspects about LaTeX that can be done
    >> better so that this project is worth being done.

    >
    > What about ODF ? (http://www.odfalliance.org/) Isn't it a good
    > competitor ?


    I'd be a nice further backend but I doubt that people want to enter
    XML.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #12
  13. Hallöchen!

    Wildemar Wildenburger writes:

    > [...]
    >
    >> Well, because they are awful. ;-) I don't see that there is a
    >> bunch of already existing projects, in fact, I don't see anyone
    >> challenging LaTeX at all. However, competition is a good thing,
    >> and I think there are enough aspects about LaTeX that can be done
    >> better so that this project is worth being done.

    >
    > Well there is ConTeXt <URL:http://wiki.contextgarden.net/>. I've
    > never actually used it, but from reading the docs I deem it a very
    > attractive alternative to LaTeX.


    That's right, I failed to mention ConTeXt, which really is a
    competitor to LaTeX. I even took one good idea from context, namely
    the availability of syntax elements in different human languages.

    However, ConTeXt documents are as much cluttered as LaTeX. ConTeXt
    is a huge system with the aim of fine control on the PDF layout.
    Therefore, it is even harder to convert it to HTML than it is for
    LaTeX. Besides, I never managed to comprehend its documentation.

    It has its good aspects, too, but these are the reasons why I don't
    think that it would be a good starting point for improving the
    situation with plain text document markup languages.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #13
  14. Torsten Bronger

    olive Guest

    On 24 août, 12:43, Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de>
    wrote:
    > Hallöchen!
    >
    > olive writes:
    > > What about ODF ? (http://www.odfalliance.org/) Isn't it a good
    > > competitor ?

    >
    > I'd be a nice further backend but I doubt that people want to enter
    > XML.
    >


    Why not if the schema is designed toward data entry.

    You could then use XSLT to convert to ODF for publishing.

    What you need is good structured text editor which hides as much as
    possible the underlying XML (or other) format.

    Olive.
    olive, Aug 24, 2007
    #14
  15. olive wrote:
    > What you need is good structured text editor which hides as much as
    > possible the underlying XML (or other) format.
    >

    What you do there is pose extra requirements on the user ("Use a text
    editor with some far-out functions"). That will prevent your (well,
    Torsten's ;)) standard from spreading easily. Plain text (read: less
    intrusive) markup is a way better approach there, IMHO, because it can
    be done in any old editor.

    /W
    Wildemar Wildenburger, Aug 24, 2007
    #15
  16. Torsten Bronger

    olive Guest

    On 24 août, 13:34, Wildemar Wildenburger <>
    wrote:
    > olive wrote:
    > > What you need is good structured text editor which hides as much as
    > > possible the underlying XML (or other) format.

    >
    > What you do there is pose extra requirements on the user ("Use a text
    > editor with some far-out functions"). That will prevent your (well,
    > Torsten's ;)) standard from spreading easily. Plain text (read: less
    > intrusive) markup is a way better approach there, IMHO, because it can
    > be done in any old editor.


    We are talking about two different things: data entry and document
    publishing.

    for me ODF is good for document publishing only.

    I agree that Plain Text Markup is usually better than XML even with a
    good XML editor and a simple schema.

    But few people are used to Plain Text Markup (excepted in some
    scientific area maybe) and it is error prone.

    This is why some user-friendly PTM or XML based editors are needed.

    Good user-friendly editor will help in spreading standard.
    OpenOffice is a good example for ODF but this has never happened to
    XML or any other markup language.

    Olive
    olive, Aug 24, 2007
    #16
  17. Torsten Bronger

    Aahz Guest

    In article <>,
    Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >Aahz writes:
    >>
    >> My point is that docutils already exists; given the combined
    >> competition from LaTeX and docutils and OpenOffice, you should
    >> probably explain what differentiates your project and why people
    >> should support your project instead of (or in addition to) others.

    >
    >reStructuredText, AsciiDoc, and some others focus on source code
    >documentation, or on software documentation. In contrast to that,
    >our markup should be suitable for PhD theses, papers and the like.
    >Thus, it has weaker means for code snippets, RFC citation etc, but
    >rich syntax for bibliographic entries, index entries, math, and
    >floating figures.


    Enh. reST is intended to be a general-purpose system. It's certainly
    extensible, and I've added code for index entries myself. There has
    been some recent activity on improving bibliographic support, and I
    believe some people are working on integrating MathML.

    >Additionally, input methods simplify using characters like δ, ⇒, or
    >â€.


    "Everyone" says to just use a Unicode editor. Long-term, I think that's
    what's going to happen -- you're starting your project too late for this
    to make much sense.

    >The differences to LaTeX are explained comprehensively on the
    >webpage, and actually LaTeX is the real competitor rather than
    >reStructuredText. OOo isn't a plain text format, and has no strong
    >semantic markup.


    Then you're really caught between a rock and a hard place. LaTeX is
    extremely well-entrenched; at the same time reST is gaining features.
    You would probably make much better progress on your goals by simply
    working on the reST project -- I doubt you can improve on reST as a
    markup language, and the more you try to cram in, the more you're going
    to look like LaTeX, anyway.

    OTOH, this is Open Source, and nobody's going to stop you. ;-) I just
    think you're also not going to get much traction.
    --
    Aahz () <*> http://www.pythoncraft.com/

    "If you don't know what your program is supposed to do, you'd better not
    start writing it." --Dijkstra
    Aahz, Aug 24, 2007
    #17
  18. Torsten Bronger

    J. Robertson Guest

    olive wrote:

    >>> [snip]


    >
    > But few people are used to Plain Text Markup (excepted in some
    > scientific area maybe) and it is error prone.
    >


    It looks very much like Gummi's authors and target audience actually are
    part of the few people you are talking about: i.e. console-happy folks
    that are perfectly fine with how the math system goes in LaTeX, say, but
    are annoyed by the clutter besides that. I can't imagine they would
    want to go anywhere near an equation editor, for example.

    Looks like a worthwhile project to me :)
    J. Robertson, Aug 24, 2007
    #18
  19. Hallöchen!

    Aahz writes:

    > Torsten Bronger <-aachen.de> wrote:
    >
    >> [...]
    >>
    >> reStructuredText, AsciiDoc, and some others focus on source code
    >> documentation, or on software documentation. In contrast to
    >> that, our markup should be suitable for PhD theses, papers and
    >> the like. Thus, it has weaker means for code snippets, RFC
    >> citation etc, but rich syntax for bibliographic entries, index
    >> entries, math, and floating figures.

    >
    > Enh. reST is intended to be a general-purpose system. It's
    > certainly extensible, and I've added code for index entries
    > myself.


    I like reST very much, and it is used for all documentation in the
    "Gummi" source files. I could probably use it as a starting point
    for the features that I want but the same is true for AsciiDoc or
    MediaWiki. I doubt, however, that the resulting syntax is what I
    want (see below).

    > There has been some recent activity on improving bibliographic
    > support, and I believe some people are working on integrating
    > MathML.


    But I hope only for the backend side?

    >> Additionally, input methods simplify using characters like δ,
    >> ⇒, or â€Â.

    >
    > "Everyone" says to just use a Unicode editor. Long-term, I think
    > that's what's going to happen -- you're starting your project too
    > late for this to make much sense.


    Well, your newsreader failed to specify UTF-8, and my newsreader
    failed to do a proper auto-detect. So, Unicode has not arrived yet.
    ;-)

    Seriously: Most people can't enter those characters. In LaTeX, you
    can use many Unicode characters directy for years, however, only few
    documents make use of this. To most people, it's probably simpler
    to write \alpha than to find and use the Unicode-insertion tool of
    their editor.

    > [...]
    >
    > Then you're really caught between a rock and a hard place. LaTeX
    > is extremely well-entrenched;


    But only in a small group (compared to Word for example).

    The main motivation of our group was to see that many people stay
    away from LaTeX because it is too complicated. The basic assertion
    of our project is that this complexity is not necessary while still
    maintaining important features of LaTeX (plain text file format,
    semantic markup). It is a tradeoff, though: You give up a lot of
    flexibility. However, I think that this particular type of
    flexibility (namely, local layout tweaking) is of minor
    importance.

    Probably one important thing that didn't get through yet is that we
    try to get people to semantic markup who don't come from engineering
    or science. These are heavily under-represented in the LaTeX
    community. "Gummi" (or however we'll call it) is not supposed to be
    another Geek language. On the contrary, our goal is that even a
    typical linguistics student loves to write their seminar paper with
    "Gummi".

    Reading only forums and newsgroups, one may think that this is
    impossible but in real life, I've seen more people using LaTeX
    exactly once and never again than people who keep using it. If I
    look at typical modern LaTeX preambles, I know what went wrong, so I
    see a lot of potential.

    However, then a very defensively constructed syntax is crucial, and
    everything must just work -- without having to use a tool chain or
    declaring things before you can use them.

    Tschö,
    Torsten.

    --
    Torsten Bronger, aquisgrana, europa vetus
    Jabber ID:
    (See http://ime.webhop.org for ICQ, MSN, etc.)
    Torsten Bronger, Aug 24, 2007
    #19
  20. Torsten Bronger wrote:

    > Some LaTeX users in Aachen thought about a general-use markup
    > language this spring. I wrote some code and a rough project
    > description, however, we could need some help.
    >
    > If you are interested, visit the provisional project page at
    > http://latex-bronger.sourceforge.net/gummi/


    Sounds a good idea - LaTeX has so many historical hangovers. How many people
    on earth can actually write a LaTeX style file?

    I'm not sure about writing LaTeX output, however, due to the crude nasty
    ways it handles fonts and so on. How are you going to get enough controls
    for users over what they always complain about: fonts, page breaking, and
    positioning of figures? Maybe it's an okay first step however.

    Jeremy

    --
    Jeremy Sanders
    http://www.jeremysanders.net/
    Jeremy Sanders, Aug 24, 2007
    #20
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