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[O] seeking advice on use of drawers vs blocks

From: Christian Wittern
Subject: [O] seeking advice on use of drawers vs blocks
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2016 15:13:22 +0900
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.10; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/38.6.0

Dear Orgmoders,

Today I would like to poll the collective wisdom of the Orgmode user
community about a design question I have.

Since discovering org-mode more than 9.5 years ago (yeah! ), it has
transformed my life almost as much, maybe even more than Emacs itself.
Among other things, for work I have developed a package called Mandoku,
which uses the org-mode format to deal with (classical) Chinese text.  For
those interested, a description of this format, which is 99% org-mode is

Now, as described at the very end of that page, I allow users to maintain
annotations to things on the previous line of text in drawers. I then have
scripts to collect these annotations and do various interesting things with
them.  Now, since I started doing this some 6+ years ago, the org-mode
syntax has seen some changes and especially blocks seem much more advanced
now. I would like to have more expressive power concerning the content of
the annotations, so I am considering switching to a block format for these
annotations (or more likely for the time being, supporting both). This would
give me more metadata and control over the content, because I can have
header lines etc. However, my audience is somewhat non-technical and they
concentrate on reading the texts, so the intrusion has to be minimal.
Currently I handle that with the drawers being mostly folded and only
expanded on demand with a <tab> key on the line as usual, that is also the
reason to use a short word for the drawer, which is the only thing seen in
the folded state.

So this does not work so nicely with blocks, especially if the header line
expands.  Ideally I would even like to avoid seeing the header line in
folded state and just have an icon in the margin to indicate that there is
an annotation.  Does anybody know how this can be done? Has anybody done
something similar?

Apart from that, I wonder if there are other things to consider in the
question: Should I move to block syntax rather than staying with drawers?

Any and all comments appreciated,

Christian Wittern

[1] http://www.mandoku.org/mandoku-format-en.html

Christian Wittern, Kyoto

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