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Re: [PATCH v2] Add new entity \-- serving as markup separator/escape sym

From: Samuel Wales
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2] Add new entity \-- serving as markup separator/escape symbol
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 17:22:16 -0700

i am not in a position to judge \-- but i like the idea of not having
zws be used, and expect you have thought it out.

just an idea: something approximately like this might work, or
something like john kitchen's poc implementation of it might.  this is
called extensible syntax.  one of the goals of es is to reduce the
proliferation of org syntax and other stuff.

es was proposed long ago, but i was unable to sufficiently follow up
for unrelated reasons.  i have lots of replies and lots of further
work on it but that's neither here nor there in this case.

[other stuff includes but is not limited to increase reusability and
reliability of code to implement things you want to do with syntax
such as whether to show it, add a subfeature, export it variantly in
different exporters, escape it, quote it, pretty-print it, etc.; allow
user to do this so org is not burdened by it; etc.  terms to look up
in the mailing list archives include extensible syntax, parsing risk,
and id markers.]

  $[emphasis :position beg :type bold :display "*"]bold text$[emphasis
:position end :type bold :display "*"]



other than the basics, such as sexp, i do NOT care about the details
of the $[] low level syntax in general OR the arglist details in this
particular case.  those can change according to consensus or
implementation needs etc.  instead, it is getting the concept across
that matters to me.  one key thing about es is that when we want a new
feature, we do not need new org syntax for that new feature.  OR for
new subfeatures.  we just do something like this:

  $[extended-timestamp :whatever yes :displays-as interval]

or whatever.  this has nothing to do with bold emphasis.  it is an
unrelated feature, using the same outer syntax.  another completely
unrelated feature i'd strongly like, for emacs in general, is id
markers.  that too can be done with this syntax.

it looks verbose to 3rd party tools but is parseable by them.  this
example displays as * to the user.  parseable as lisp sexp data using
lisp tools.  it is meant to be vaguely reminiscent of a cl function
call while still not likely to occur naturally.

it would of course not be typed by the user directly but by some
completion thing.

i am not doing well so i am unlikely to be able to respond much or at
all to queries.  please take it easy on me if this rubs you the wrong
way.  it is just an idea and it does not have to be the answer.

merely saying that once implemented, could solve this problem and ALSO
later problems.  in fact, we discussed coloring of text using this
syntax.  although with various understandings of it.  that's kinda
similar to emphasis.

On 7/29/22, Ihor Radchenko <yantar92@gmail.com> wrote:
> Max Nikulin <manikulin@gmail.com> writes:
>>>> The good point in your patch is that \- is still work as shy hyphen
>>>> (that, by the way, may be used in some cases instead of zero width
>>>> space: *intra*\-word). On the other hand I have managed to find a case
>>>> when your approach is not ideal:
>>>> *\--scratch\--*
>>>> <p>
>>>> <b>&#x00ad;-scratch</b></p>
>>> Well. I think that it is impossible to use the same escape construct to
>>> both force emphasis and escape it.
>> Let's articulate the problem as follows: when some characters ("*". "/".
>> etc.) besides used literally are overloaded with 2 additional roles that
>> are start emphasis group and terminate emphasis group, in addition to
>> lightweight markup heuristics, it is necessary to provide a way to
>> disambiguate which of 3 roles is associated with particular character.
>> "Activate" and "deactivate" characters or entities for emphasis markers
>> are alternative and perhaps not so clear terms have used before.
>> The advantage of zero width space is that "[:space:]" is part of
>> PREMATCH and POSTMATCH (outer) regexps in
>> `org-emphasis-regexp-components' and "[:space:]" is forbidden at the
>> inner borders of emphasized span of text. The latter is mostly
>> meaningful, however I am unsure if bold space has the same width as
>> regular one, and space in fixed width font is certainly distinct.
>> The problem with the "\--" entity is that it is not handled properly at
>> the start of emphasis region. It neither disables emphasis nor parsed as
>> complete entity, instead it becomes combination of "\-" shy hyphen and
>> literal "-".
>> Unsure if it can be solved consistently. Possible ways:
>> - It addition to space-like (in respect to current regexp) entity add
>> another one that acts as a part of word, but like "\--" stripped from
>> output. Likely it should be accompanied by more changes in the parser
>> and regexps.
>> - Provide some new explicit syntax for literal character, start of
>> emphasis group, end of emphasis group.
> The fact that \-- was not parsed in your example is because entities
> cannot be directly followed by a letter (see 12.4 Special Symbols).
> You need
> *\--{}scratch\--*
> Concerning the 3 listed roles of the *_/+ markup, I propose to simplify
> the problem a bit and not try to make \-- serve as a proper escape symbol.
> Instead, we can document the already existing quoting entities:
>  ("slash" "/" nil "/" "/" "/" "/")
>  ("plus" "+" nil "+" "+" "+" "+")
>  ("under" "\\_" nil "_" "_" "_" "_")
>  ("equal" "=" nil "=" "=" "=" "=")
>  ("star" "\\star" t "*" "*" "*" "⋆")
> Then, your example should better be written as
> \star{}scratch\star
> \-- may better work between markup, not inside.
>> Concerning zero width space workaround, I may be wrong, but Nicolas
>> might consider using U+200B zero width space as the escape character for
>> itself: single one is filtered out during export, double zero width
>> space becomes single character. (I do not like this kind of "white
>> space" programming language".)
> This is too complex, IMHO.
> If desired, we can again go the entity road and introduce
> \zws entity.
> Note that we already have
>  ("nbsp" "~" nil "&nbsp;" " " " " " ")
>  ("ensp" "\\hspace*{.5em}" nil "&ensp;" " " " " " ")
>  ("emsp" "\\hspace*{1em}" nil "&emsp;" " " " " " ")
>  ("thinsp" "\\hspace*{.2em}" nil "&thinsp;" " " " " " ")
> Generally, it is a good idea to advertise entities in the manual.
> Zero-width space is not only limited, it is impossible to use, e.g. in
> tables when you want to quote "|". The only solution is using \vert or
> \vbar entity.
>> Another question is whether U+2060 word
>> joiner (or some other character) should be added either as alternative
>> to zero width space or to allow =    verbatim    = fixed width text
>> surrounded by fixed width spaces.
> This particular example is tricky.
> If we put escape symbol _inside_ the verbatim, it is never possible to
> know if the user intents to use that symbol literally or not.
> But non-space before/after opening/closing markup char is hard-coded and
> changing it is fragile.
> Instead of using some kind of "escape" symbol here, I suggest turning to
> the idea about inline special blocks. We can introduce a more verbose
> markup that will allow spaces inside at the beginning/end of the
> contents.
> https://orgmode.org/list/87a6b8pbhg.fsf@posteo.net
> Manuel Macías [ML:Org mode] (2022) About 'inline special blocks'
> Instead of using the tricky *bold text*, we may allow _*{bold text}*_ or
> something similar, with _name{...}name_ being inline special block.
> Best,
> Ihor

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