[Pmwiki-users] the descriptions of emphasis

Joachim Durchholz jo
Tue Dec 7 04:45:17 CST 2004

> Tom Holroyd <tomh at kurage.nimh.nih.gov> wrote:
>>And I don't see why <em>emphasis</em> should be disallowed.  
>>It's simple. (:em emphasis:)?  %em% emphasis %%?

Ah, the old trade-off between "keep it simple and manageable to draw 
newbies into the Wiki way" and "make it powerful enough to cover all needs".

In the case of PmWiki, oneof its selling points (well, actually not a 
sale, but anyway) is that it's simple. If this means that some things 
can't be done, well, then they can't be done - we don't *need* every 
kind of mark-up that has been invented in computer history.

Plus, HTML has been growing lots of bells, whistles, and thorns, 
including security-relevant ones, making HTML largely useless for Wikis 
of any kind. (You don't really want to write an HTML filter that removes 
all critical tags - it's really, really difficult to distinguish the 
dangerous from the innocent, e.g. some style attributes are dangerous 
and some aren't, and it often depends on the values in the attributes 
whether it's dangerous or not. Plus, you have to keep up with all HTML 
extensions present and future, such as e.g. novel ways of embedding 
script tags and ActiveX controls.)

At best, you can do a dumbed-down version of HTML - and, in that case, 
HTML is syntactic overkill.
Besides, it's better to use a different mark-up syntax, because this 
will not only make clear that the Wiki syntax isn't HTML, it will kill 
another bird as well: the ever-constant pressure of accustomed users to 
add just this one other HTML feature (such as the request for emphasis 

I specifically request that PmWiki remain simple. Actually I'm a bit 
concerned that it's already a bit too complicated for the end users I'm 
planning to use PmWiki right now (I have to admit that I haven't had the 
time to fully assess the PmWiki end-user syntax yet, so this concern 
more a vague "that's something I still have to check" rather than a 
"PmWiki is already beyond usability for my purposes").
Note that I don't care about the skin stuff and installation - well, far 
less than about end user usability. For me, end users are non-techies, 
untrained in formal syntax of any kind, and anything that goes far 
beyond the usual PHP forums will also go far beyond their capabilities. 
PmWiki's promise of being particularly simple on end users (while still 
retaining a good deal of expressive power) was one of the key points 
that has been drawing me towards it; I'd consider it a pity if that 
point got lost.

Just one data point for PM to consider, and my 2c on the issue :-)


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