[pmwiki-users] leading spaces switch for 2.2.0 (somewhat important)

The Editor editor at fast.st
Mon Mar 26 06:03:53 CDT 2007

On 3/26/07, marc <gmane at auxbuss.com> wrote:
> The Editor said...
> > On 3/25/07, marc <gmane at auxbuss.com> wrote:
> > > With respect, dumbing down features to meet the inability of folk to
> > > adapt is not a road that I wish to travel.
> >
> > To be honest, I've never understood the reason for the leading space
> > rule.
> The fact is that a function exists and is easy to access via a well-
> defined syntax, whether or not you understand the reason for the syntax,
> is not an issue here.

I was just curious why it was so important for you.  Like maybe there
was something I was missing out on, that you used it for.  Now that I
think about it, I use it myself on the new ZAP and Hg site config

> > I would much rather have a special markup or a config value
> > that can be turned on for it, than the way it is now.
> So, you are happy with an alternative syntax - you can always write your
> own ;-) I, and many others, like and use the existing syntax and prefer
> to keep it.

I don't do so many websites I can't turn mine on or off as needed.
But I do think having a core option in PmWiki is good. And I agree
with Pm, the default would be better turned off.  Though existing
sites will need to change the default setting when they upgrade. Or
debug their sites.  Whatever the default setting however, there
definitely should be a choice--in core.

> > Anything we can
> > do to make PmWiki more intuitive and easy for users we should do.
> This is obfuscation, since "intuition" is subjective. More to the point,
> there is nothing about PmWiki, or any other wiki, that is intuitive; the
> whole process of adding content must be learned.
> Of course we all prefer software to be "intuitive" and "easy to use",
> but in no way is the syntax under discussion less than easy to use. It's
> clearly not intuitive - as mentioned above - but nor would any other
> syntax for the same function.

It was not obfuscation, nor subjective opinion.  Not only did it
surprize me the first time I encountered it, many of my students who
posted to my site came to me worried they had broken the wiki or
something.  Other than this one rule, students could basically post
whatever they wanted to a comment box with no training at all. Without
that bit of knowledge, it gave completely unexpected results. That's
pure and simple counter intuitive.

And no they are not so dumb they couldn't learn this.  But I want
their experience to be more transparent. As far as possible, they
should be able to post without any training.

It's also not intuitive in that most printed text these days still
indents paragraphs.  (Usually 5 spaces, Pm, Kathryn).  So most authors
would assume (intuition) you could do something like this on a web
post.  This is one area where LWS is even better than the proposed
change, as it allows paragraph indenting.  But when cutting and
pasting text from such a document, PmWiki should be able to handle it
easily, without loads of editing.

> > Of course, with Han's new LWS recipe I'm good either way...
> This is about a core function, not a recipe.

Granted, and if it broke so many sites it was best to leave the
default on, I'd be fine.  But core functions are about expanding
options.  So giving a choice is good.

> > And it does make things easier for end users.
> No it doesn't, since it isn't "not easy" to start with.

Actually, I think you are the one obfuscating here, Marc.  If you have
to teach and get them to remember special rules, it is clearly less
easy than not having to do any of that.  I've had a similar capability
in ZAP's magic boxes for some time.  Folks can post and get back
exactly what they posted.  That's intuitive.  It's easier.

Whether or not the leading white space rule is a useful markup is
another question. But it does make PmWiki less intuitive. At least to
general authors, not coming from some other wiki environment already
acclimated to this convention.

> > One less thing to remember or get confused about.
> Where are the facts to support these fluffy statements? There is nothing
> to remember, nor be "confused about".

0 rules < 1 rule.  What's so hard to verify about this?

> All we are talking about is a space at the start of a line. Are there
> really people out there who can't cope with not putting a space at the
> start of a line to avoid formatting that they don't require at that
> time? If so, I think the human race is in big trouble!
> I enjoy the lack of facts in you "arguements", Dan ;-)

These are not mere personal opinions, Marc, but observations drawn
from experience working with various students.  Pm more than
corroborated that this is a common problem.  And while I appreciate
how much you enjoy the leading white space rule, I suspect your
enthusiasm for it is clouding your perceptiveness.  How you can say
forcing authors to learn this rule is easier than not requiring it in
the first place, is beyond me. :)

> > I'd be interested again in hearing your reasons for keeping the
> > leading white space rule.  Is there actually some reason it shouldn't
> > be turned off by default?
> The syntax exists; it's a very easy to use; it is used frequently.

Granted.  Still doesn't tell me at all what you use it for.  I have
NEVER used it until the latest revisions of my recipes, and then only
for config pages.  Again, I was and still am honestly curious how
other admins use this rule. At least it would be worth throwing into
the conversation. I mean if you have a good reason for it, share it.
I'm open.

> Perhaps, Dan, you might like to ask Patrick why he put it in in the
> first place. Clearly, there was a need, and the choice was made for the
> existing syntax. No-one is suggesting that Patrick is awarded the Nobel
> Prize for his choice, but there it is; it works; it's used; it's brain
> dead simple to understand; and so on.

If you wish to defer to Pm's wisdom here, let's defer to his
assessment: this rule causes more problems than it's worth, and the
consequences of the current behavior are more significant than the
consequences of turning it off.

I appreciate the historical reasons for it, but if most other wikis
are changing this, perhaps there's a reason.  And I'm all for Pm's
forward thinking decisions.

> Turning it off by default is not a big deal in the grand scheme of
> things. But it's one more additional thing to adjust during
> installation. In addition, removing very useful functions by default
> seems a strange thing to do, but maybe that's an indication that PmWiki
> is becoming something that no longer works for me.

I hope you don't come to that conclusion, it would be a loss to the
PmWiki community.  And where else would you go to find something


More information about the pmwiki-users mailing list