Novelang-0.26.0 released!

Latest release available here.

Outstanding new feature: tags. Now you can tag some pieces of the source documents with arbitrary labels:

  @my-tag  @foo
This is a tagged paragraph.

Novelang's default HTML stylesheet generates pretty colorful tags in the margin, and a tag summary at the end. It's intended to be for humans but stylesheets may take advantage of tags, too.

See documentation for details.


Novelang-0.25.0 released!

Latest release available here.

This version brings relaxed syntax to associate names to URL:

Go to the "website"

See documentation for details.


Novelang-0.24.0 released!

Latest release of Novelang available here. This version brings embedded lists. See documentation for details.


Named URL: try again!

With Novelang-0.23.0 comes a new feature: named URL. The purpose is to associate some text to a URL, in order to let the stylesheet display something nicer than the URL itself. With source document like this:

This is a 

… we get:

This is a url.

The rationale of this syntax is the consistency with decorations. Decorations are source metadata that is conveniently before decorated source, appearing on its own single line and with some indentation for the visual comfort. It seemed a good idea to follow the same scheme.

But the syntax described above has many drawbacks.

First, it’s very space-consuming. The scarce resource is the vertical space inside the text editor, because you cannot stretch the display device in height (and long horizontal lines are hard to read). So text like this seems to waste space:

This is
  "url one"
and here is 
  "url two"

URL must appear on their very own line, for already discussed reasons, so the full stop character at the end must stay as it is. The problem is with the blocks inside double quotes: it’s supposed to remain short, so reserving a whole line for it is obviously a waste. Finally I’d like to write text like this:

This is "url one"
and here is "url two"

One question then arises: how to distinguish a block associated to a URL from one which is not? After all you may need to display some text in double quotes right before some URL. First I thought about a new “attach” operator which would tell explicitely that some block inside double quotes is related to the following URL:

Stupid: "url" ~

This is not a good idea because experience shows that, 99 % of times, the block is related to the following URL. So it makes no sense to make the most common case a special thing which breaks the consistency of the grammar. And what if the text of the URL should appear inside double quotes? Is there some new clever escape mechanism to invent?

Corresponding Abstract Syntax Tree is also broken, in the sense where n:external-link and n:link-title nodes do carry semantic meaning, while I claim everywhere that such meaning is confusing when stylesheet defines alternate meaning. The n:external-link was a clever idea to wrap the URL and the title in one single element, but I should find something else.

The solution

When a block inside double quotes, or a block inside square brackets, are located right before a URL, they become URL children. Considering such source document:

This is a ["url"]

… we get something like this (consistent with stylesheet’s rendering of block inside double quotes):

This is a “url”.

In the rare case where a block inside double quotes must appear verbatim, we “break” the proximity with some “invisible” character which is an empty block of literal inside grave accents. That’s a little weird but it’s not a problem as it should remain the exception:

That's a "url" ``

… so it renders like this:

That’s a “url” http://url.net.

Finally, the n:external-link disappears in favor of n:url. The n:link-title becomes a n:block-inside-double-quotes or n:block-inside-square-brackets. The text of the URL gets wrapped inside a n:url-literal and that’s all.

  + n:url-literal
  + n:block-inside-double-quotes