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On zero width spaces and Org syntax

From: Juan Manuel Macías
Subject: On zero width spaces and Org syntax
Date: Fri, 03 Dec 2021 12:48:16 +0000

Hi all,

It is usually recommended, as you know, to insert a zero width space
character (Unicode U+200B) as a sort of delimiter mark to solve the
scenarios of emphasis within a word (for example, =/meta/literature=)
and others contexts where emphasis marks are not recognized (for example
=[/literature/]=). I believe that as a puntual workaround it is not bad;
however, I find it problematic that this character is part, more or less
de facto, of the Org syntax. For two main reasons:

1. It is an invisible character, and therefore it is difficult to
control and manage. I think it is not good practice to introduce this
type of characters implicitly in a plain text document.

2. It is more natural that this type of space characters are part of the
'output' and not of the 'input'. In the input it is better to introduce
them not implicitly but through their representation. For example, in
LaTeX (with LuaTeX) using the command '\char"200B{}' (or '^^^^200b'),
'​' in HTML, etc.

In any case, as an implicit character, I do not see it appropriate for
the syntax of a markup language. The marks should be simply ascii
characters, IMHO. So what if Org had a specific delimiter mark for the
scenarios described above? For example, something like that:







Best regards,

Juan Manuel 

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