Growing number of styling languages

Off course the HTML language is the core of the web, but it’s not always great to type what you have to say in a textbox having to type tags to put <em>emphasis</em> or <a href="url">links</a> in your text. That’s why there is now substitute languages, simpler to type and remember, allowing you to format your text. As an example, this site use one of these syntax to allow you to style your comments. (Click on the Preview box of the comment form for more details on the syntax)

But the number of formatting rules is increasing. I can count five distinct flavor of them currently: SPIP’s formatting shortcuts and Textile (in use on this site). And now there is a new one: Markdown. There is also the Wikipedia syntax. And by writing this entry I found a new one: ReStructuredText. I would be surprised to have found them all.

I think we will need to do something about this, and fast, or else all these different but similar easy formatting syntaxes are going to make so much confusion that they won’t be easy anymore. Where is the ring bell when we need it?


  • © 2003–2017 Michel Fortin.