[WMS] Re: Thoughts on standards

  • From: Reini Urban <rurban@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: wiki@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 06 Oct 2004 19:21:55 +0200

Florian Festi schrieb:
>>I don't beleieve that it will be a reasonable goal to persuade all wiki
>>engine developers to convert to a new standard.
>>A more likely goal would be to support such an interwiki markup in one
>>way or another.
>>Which ways:
>>* on edit: (optional, aka InterWikiMarkup)
>>Support a markup option, so that the user can decide in which markup the
>>text should be interpreted. old markup, new markup, interwiki markup, ...
>>The engine then calls the appropriate markup parser.
> Using several kind of markup on the same page by converting is is not 
> practical IMHO. 

No: one page - one markup style.
We store the markup style in the page metadata. To decide which markup 
parser should be used to display the page. (on save it's actually not 
used, just to store the markup option in the page meta-data)

> First problem is that the two markups have to be 
> convertable losslessly which is not trivial. And second you can convert 
> correct markup but you run into trouble if the markup is not correct. Then 
> you offer the users some strange special chars that have no meaning to 
> him and he doesn't know how to correct.

no, this is ignored.

> I think this is a really hard task for two markups you can tweak to make 
> everything work, to remove the subtile differences. I have doubts if this 
> can work in the Interwiki context.

phpwiki uses that since we invented a "new markup" with better block 
identation detection. it's actually very easy to do. don't convert 
anything, just interpret the page to be displayed in this or that markup 
The user is then free to use any external tool to convert existing 
pages, if he wants it. We also have some javascript search/replace 
button which helps in conversion, or the office2wiki javascript button, 
which clears up MS Office style mess.

2 years praxis with that shows that almost no page gets converted by 
users. even if old-style markup has technical problems, crashes on 
parsing, has less options.

>>* on import/export: (required, aka InterWikiExchangeFormat)
>>either support additional options to read and write to/from interwiki
>>or support external converters to and from native exchange format to
>>interwiki exchange format.
> I would not mix Markupstandard and WikiExchangeFormat (WXF). A WXF 
> has to deal with converting features between wiki engines. We all know 
> that is is impossible for advaced features like plugins, LaTeX formulas, ...
> So a WXF needs possibilities to express these non standard features and a 
> converter has to deal with them on a engine to engine basis.
> As every wiki need as WXF to markup converter WXF schould be maschine 
> readable. If we want to lay the burden of right nesting on the engines I 
> would suggest an XML format.

If XML or any other format I don't care.
XML has the disadvantage of being non-human readable. But it already has 
won over the superior, human-readable and older SEXPR style, so I expect 
that the worst of all will win. ("Worse is better")

We (phpwiki) use MIME-style mailbox format to seperate the metadata (in 
a header) from the page (body). Easy as it is. No need for ugly XML or 
declarative SEXPR.

>>>>Beyond that, I believe that we should try to distinguish different
>>>>"groups" of standards and standardize within these: the UseMod-likes,
>>>>the TWiki-likes, and so forth.
>>I don't think that this is a good way.
>>  similar syntax, completely different syntax. fragmentation. good
>>guys, bad guys.
>>let's ignore the syntax the various engines for now, and concentrate on
>>an interwiki exchange format (if XML, MIME, SEXP or TEXT) and on a
>>reasonable interwiki markup format. (as described on the wikipage)
>>let's just define our goals and our syntax, and make it easy for the
>>engine developers to achieve these goals, and make it easy for the users
>>to use the interwiki format. if it's just import/export or maybe
>>optionally on edit also.
> Yes, this is not a good way. It is about good guys and bad guys. This is 
> about forging alliences to gain enough weight to force others to follow.
> But that's what we are have to go through. There is no other way IMHO.
> What you suggest is nothing really different. You just limit the number of 
> standards to one.

No, two standards. One for the markup and one for the exchange format.

For the markup I have no technical problem to add this phpwiki. As said, 
we already support different markups-style. Will need one day to 
implement when we will come to a definition.

For the exchange format similar. Wait for the (extendable) definition, 
and support it via importer/exporter or externally.

> I don't belive in this two standards per wiki engine thing. And even if I 
> would it puts massive pressure on the developers to change to the 
> InterwikiMarkupStandard (IWMS). Which is IMHO not acceptable, and which 
> put the standard in danger of being ignored.
> I hope this was not too directly for someone.

For me it's no problem. InterwikiMarkupStandard is just optional for the 
beginning. Whoever wants to use that, can use it. Users can decide.
Old-timers (most current users) will stay with the native style of 
course. Just changers or newcomers will opt-in for the new format.

Somewhen in the future it might get converted/unified via 
InterWikiExchangeFormat to some standard, the wiki users will decide 
upon, to avoid markup seggregation, native or interwiki.
Reini Urban

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