Jeff Atwood: "I do think we'll adopt some of the cleverer functions of Textile and Markdown, insofar as they remove mundane HTML markup scutwork. But in general, I'd much rather rely on a subset of trusty old HTML than expend brain cells trying to remember the fake-HTML way to make something bold, or create a hyperlink. HTML isn't perfect, but it's an eminently reasonable humane markup language." -  Is HTML a Humane Markup Language?

Jeff Atwood: " Given its prevalence, you might decide that XML is technologically terrible, but you have to use it anyway. It sure feels like, for any given representation of data in XML, there was a better, simpler choice out there somewhere. But it wasn't pursued, because, well, XML can represent anything. Right? [...] Please think twice before subjecting yourself, your fellow programmers, and your users to the XML angle bracket tax." - XML: The Angle Bracket Tax




    I realize there is some cognitive dissonance here.

    I fully set out *intending* to pick one of the lightweight markup languages (Textile, Markdown, BBCode, Wikipedia, etc), but after struggling to understand their rules and peculiarities, I couldn't get past the ease and ubiquity of HTML. I kept coming back to it. I can't say that about XML after working with the alternatives. XML is everything and nothing; HTML is a very clearly defined set of tags that do specific things.

    The key words, though, are "subset of .. HTML" -- along with inferring the paragraph tag. I find that <b>, <i>, <code>, <pre>, <blockquote>, <li>, etc are simple to use and don't obscure the underlying content.

    Jeff, you don't mention the best of them all: ReStructured Text, part of docutils.

    "Is HTML a Humane Markup Language?"

    I've worked with markup since the early eighties, and I'd say it is. The information model is simple and pretty good. The syntax is reasonably easy to read and write, and more importantly, redundant enough to automatically detect and correct most markup typos. And everyone understands HTML these days.

    I tend to prefer Markdown as the "front-end syntax" for some applications; it reuses the HTML information model, as is, and also lets you escape to HTML when needed.

    (And don't get me started on ReST -- it has a good tool-chain, but the markup language itself sucks. Too much software engineering, way too little understanding of human factors and usability. A bit like Java, actually. Which makes it a bit ironic that Java has standardized on HTML in comments for program documentation, while Python insists on ReST in string literals. Too bad Guido isn't interested in markup languages...)

    HTML and XML are *document* markup languages. The angle bracket tax may be fine in a web page of text, but an intolerable burden for the structured data records which XML is too often used for.

    "No angle bracket taxation without document representation", as they're chanting in the streets now.

    "some cognitive dissonance"

    I enjoyed the Coding Horror sammich a lot more when it wasn't filled with wishy-washy baloney.

    Jeff, you're on the one hand saying don't subject your users to the angle bracket tax, and then ... subjecting them to an angle bracket tax.

    Just use a rich text JS text entry control with buttons (and the standard keyboard accelerators) to apply formatting. Same functionality, easier to use, no angle bracket tax. (Or, stop handing out crap advice that even you won't follow.)