I’m sick of bringing my writing down to the level of the computer. Why should I have to cover everything in annoying pointy brackets just so it knows what I mean? We’ve had well-standardized conventions for computer processed text for the past decade; it’s time for a text format that acknowledges them, instead of inventing its own way of doing things.
I’ve tried to create such a format: atx. The rest of this document describes the conventions of atx in detail, but you should be able to just write as you do in email and have a mostly valid atx document.
Note that atx is still in flux and is subject to change. However, I don’t expect all that much to change and I’ll note things that I’m not sure about in the document.
Use the TeX encoding of formatting characters:
Double quoting: ``Hello, World!'' Single quoting: `Hello, World!' An en-dash: 1920---1942 An em-dash: Some thought -- sidenote -- same thought.
Double quoting: “Hello, World!”
Single quoting: ‘Hello, World!’
An en-dash: 1920–1942
An em-dash: Some thought — sidenote — same thought.
(Yes, the last two are reversed from their positions in TeX. I think this is fair because a en-dash is far less common than an em-dash in my experience, but I’d appreciate feedback.)
format=flowed wrapping: if the line ends in a space, then the next line is treated as a continuation of the previous one. Otherwise there’s a line break.
Use the standard email conventions for strong and emphasis, and a new one for computer words (since I don’t think there exists a convention):
Emphasis (italics): I _love_ candy! Strong (bold): *This is a draft!* Code (monospaced): Use the |frobnitz| module.
Emphasis (italics): I love candy!
Strong (bold): This is a draft!
Code (monospaced): Use the
Paragraphs are separated by a blank line. Lines starting with
$ or folowing a paragraph ending in :: are preformatted.
Headings start with 1 or more # characters. The level 1 heading (the title) starts with #, section headings with ##, subheads with ###, and so on.
Ordered lists start with numbers:
1. Jack 2. Jill 3. Bill
Unordered lists start with *:
* Eat * Drink * Sleep
Block quotes start with 3 or more spaces:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.
I need to figure out some way of doing links. (A similar method could be used to do any other type of phrase-describing not included.) I was thinking something like:
[John] went to [the market]. [John] http://www.john.org/ [the market] http://themarket.gov/
John went to the market.
What do you think?
Is there anything else I should include? Let me know.