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Discussion  - 
 
The point here would be to enable web-native scholarly writing that translates easily into various formats - HTML, XML, PDF, etc.

+Martin Fenner says at a minimum the following would be needed:

Superscript and subscript
Highlighting text (supporting the HTML tag <mark>)
Captions for tables and figures (with support for the HTML tags <caption> and <figcaption>)
Support for document sections (the HTML5 tags <article>, <header>, <footer>, <section>)
Good table support
Math support
Good citation support
Support for comments and annotations
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Andrew Stacey's profile photoRob Walsh's profile photoEdd Dumbill's profile photoMichael Rowe's profile photo
8 comments
 
Markdown is the only way I write documents. I've always thought of it as a shame that Word docs are assumed to be the only real document format by most people.
 
William, thanks for reposting. There seems to be a lot of interest in Markdown for scholarly content, the question for me is how best to proceed. I think we still need a few missing pieces before we see wider adoption.
 
On +Edd Dumbill 's re-share, some people are asking, why not start with Latex? As I understand it, the choice of markdown is mostly for simplicity?
 
Several people have suggested LaTeX, which is fine for many use cases. I personally like the simplicity and web-friendlyness of Markdown.
 
Are you really suggesting we need another text format? There are lots of them already after all. I now use about 4 of these for different purposes and could well do without another syntax.

For maths, then tex is the only game in town. Referencing I think should be a view of the in text citations.

But at heart, I am far from convinced that many people (who are not already using them) are get to start using this form of text syntax. Surely, worrying about HTML makes more sense; however this is generated.
 
Not really, I want to promote Markdown to more widespread use in the scholarly community. Many people use Markdown already anyway. And I think we will see more editors that save documents as Markdown without the user knowing about the document format.
 
I'll be blunt: I think that this is an absolutely awful idea.  But if you really want to do it, don't reinvent the wheel.  There is already a Markdown extension that does all of what you want: maruku with the itex library for mathematics.  That's the input format for the instiki wiki (which is what http://ncatlab.org runs on) and I'd love to hear of a feature that was missing from that!

Why I think it is an awful idea is that it mixes up input formats and transition formats.  An input format is whatever I use to directly write a document.  I personally use LaTeX.  This should be as rich and flexible as possible to ensure that it has maximum ability for an author to write what they mean to write.  Of course, not everyone takes advantage of this but when someone does it makes it easier to translate it to another format.  Such as a transition format.  This is a format that the input is converted to for storage or transmission.  This should still be rich but now flexibility becomes a disadvantage.  A transition format will likely be retranslated to an output format before being shown to the reader but the key is that this might happen at some time or location unbeknownst to the original author and in a manner that they didn't anticipate.  So the transition format needs to be rigid in that it must be as difficult as possible to misunderstand something.  XML is a reasonable transition format.

Markdown is very definitely an input format.  It does not have the richness to be a transition format.  When I convert stuff from LaTeX to Markdown (as I do when I write blog posts on Wordpress installations) then I very definitely lose semantic information.

What seems to be the proposal here is to convert Markdown into a transition format because it is easier to write.  But that is precisely why it shouldn't be such!  By making it a transition format you kill off the only good thing about it: that it is easy to write.  Yes, when writing comments on StackOverflow then it's great to use Markdown.  But when writing articles then it is a pain and I switch to LaTeX readily.

But note that I'm not proposing XML for an input format either.  It is a transition format.

In summary, in an ideal world an author could select whichever input format they liked, be it LaTeX, Word, or Markdown.  That would then get translated to an open standard transition format, such as XML, for storage.  Then that transition format could be transformed into any suitable output format: PDF, display on screen, read by a screen reader, braille, ...
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