Definitions

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Lightweight markup language

A lightweight markup language is a markup language with a simple syntax, designed to be easy for a human to enter with a simple text editor, and easy to read in its raw form.

Lightweight markup languages are used in applications where people might be expected to read the document source as well as the rendered output. For instance, a person downloading a software library might prefer to read the documentation in a text editor rather than a browser.

Another application is for entry in web-based publishing, such as weblogs and wikis, where the input interface is a simple text box. The server software converts the input to a common document markup language like HTML or XHTML.

History

Lightweight markup languages were originally used on text-only displays which could not display characters in italics or bold, so informal methods to convey this information had to be developed. This formatting choice was naturally carried forth to plain-text email communications.

List of lightweight markup languages

The following is a partial list of lightweight markup languages.

Presentation oriented

Data serialization oriented

Comparison of lightweight markup language syntax

Text/font-face formatting

Comparing text formatting syntax
Language Bold Italic Monospace (teletype) Notes
Almost Free Text _bold text_ ''italic text'' |monospace text| Formatting will not occur across line breaks unless the first formatting character is the first character on the line.
BBCode [b]bold text[/b] [i]italic text[/i] [code]monospace text[/code] Formatting works across line breaks.
Creole **bold text** //italic text// {{{monospace text}}} Triple curly braces are for nowiki which is optionally monospace in Creole (the choice of the implementor). Future Creole additions may introduce double hash marks (##) for monospace.
Markdown **bold text**
or
__bold text__
*italic text*
or
_italic text_
Non-monospace text
    monospace text
    more monospace text
Inline `monospaced` text.
Markdown doesn't use bold and italic tags, but rather em (typically italic) and strong (typically bold) tags.
Monospace text is created by indenting that line 4 spaces or one tab character, or enclosing text in backticks: `monospaces`.
o7aCode '''bold text''' ''italic text'' °°°
monospace text
monospace text
°°°
o7aCode uses em (typically italic) and strong (typically bold) tags.
All attributes of all markups can be filled in.
Monospace text can be colored up by GeSHi.
POD B I C Indented text is also shown as monospaced code.
reStructuredText **bold text** *italic text* ``monospace text``
Textile *bold text* or
**bold text**
_italic text_ or
__italic text__
@monospace text@ Textile uses em (typically italic) and strong (typically bold) tags on single symbols, and i and b tags on double symbols.
Texy! **bold text** *italic text*
or
//italic text//
`monospace text` Texy uses by default em (typically italic) and strong (typically bold) tags. It is possible to configure library to use another tags.
txt2tags **bold text** //italic text// ``monospace text``
MediaWiki '''bold text''' ''italic text'' monospace text

Section headers

Comparing section header formatting
Language Format Notes
Almost Free Text * Level 1 Header
** Level 2 Header
Up to 4 levels
BBCode Does not support section headers
Markdown # Level 1 Header
## Level 2 Header
or
Level 1 Header
==============

Level 2 Header
--------------
You can optionally "close" the #-style headers with an equal number of #'s. The #-style headers support up to 6 levels. The = and - style headers support only the two shown.
o7aCode = Level 3 Header =
== Level 4 Header ==
The title first level can be set (by default : 3).
POD =head1 Level 1 heading
=head2 Level 2 heading
reStructuredText Chapter 1 Title
===============

Section 1.1 Title
-----------------

Subsection 1.1.1 Title
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Section 1.2 Title
-----------------

Chapter 2 Title
===============
Any of the following characters can be used as the "underline": = - ` : ' " ~ ^ _ * + # < >. The same character must be used for the same indentation level and may not be used for a new indentation level.
Textile h1. Level 1 Header
h2. Level 2 Header
Up to 6 levels
Texy! ### Level 1 Header
## Level 2 Header
or
Level 1 Header
==============

Level 2 Header
--------------
You can optionally "close" the #-style headers with an equal number of #'s. The #-style headers support up to 6 levels. The underlined style headers support four levels (### *** === ----). Real levels are calculated dynamically.
txt2tags = Level 1 Header =
== Level 2 Header ==
=== Level 3 Header ===
Up to 6 levels. Using + characters instead of = characters creates numbered headers (the default being unnumbered).
MediaWiki == Level 2 Header ==
=== Level 3 Header ===
= is available for level 1 header, but its use is discouraged in Wikipedia (reserved for page title). More = are possible, up to 6.

Link Syntax

Comparing link syntax
Language Syntax Notes
Almost Free Text [Link text (http://www.example.com)] Also has support for targeting references within the same text, not just URLs.
BBCode [url]http://www.example.com[/url]
[url=http://www.example.com]Link text[/url]
Some BBCode implementations can auto-parse URLs as well and convert them to a elements.
Markdown [Link text](http://www.example.com "optional title attribute") or
[Link text][id]
and elsewhere
[id]: http://www.example.com "optional title attribute"
Allows for an optional title attribute.
o7aCode [http://o7aCode.net/ :: official website of o7aCode :: en]o7aCode[/]
[http://o7aCode.net/]o7aCode[/]
[]http://o7aCode.net/[/]
[http://o7aCode.net/ ;; id = id_for_the_link :: official website]o7aCode[/]
[wp]Lightweight markup language[/]
...
All attributes can be filled in (href, title, lang ...).
The last example allows to make a link to a wikipedia article.
POD L
L
L
The core POD standard does not support external links with titles.
reStructuredText `Link text `_ Can also be done in a non-embedded format which may be seen as more readable.
Textile "Link text (optional title attribute)":http://www.example.com or
"Link text":alias
and elsewhere
[alias (optional title attribute)]http://www.example.com
Allows for an optional title attribute.
Texy! "Link text .(optional title)[opt. class or ID]{opt. style}":http://www.example.com or
"Link text":alias
and elsewhere
[alias]: http://www.example.com .(optional title)[opt. class or ID]{opt. style}
Texy! modifiers allows for an optional title attribute, CSS classes, ID, inline style and HTML element attributes. Example: "Link .(title)[class#id]{color: blue;rel:nofollow}"
txt2tags [Link text www.example.com] Txt2tags can auto-parse URLs as well and convert them to a elements. Also has support for targeting references within the same text, not just URLs.
MediaWiki [[Internal page]]
[[Internal page|Displayed text]]
[http://www.example.com]
[http://www.example.com External link]
Wikitext can auto-parse URLs as well and convert them to a elements.

Comparison of language features

A lot of this was taken from http://bluebones.net/2005/02/humane-text-formats/

Comparing language features
Language HTML export tool HTML import tool Tables Link titles class attribute id attribute Exportable formats License
Almost Free Text HTML, LaTeX, lout, DocBook, RTF Clarified Artistic License
BBCode
Creole
Markdown XHTML BSD-style & GPL (both)
Markdown_Extra XHTML BSD-style & GPL (both)
o7aCode XHTML HTML ...
POD ? ? ? HTML, XHTML, XML, man, LaTeX, plain text, RTF, DocBook Artistic License, Perl's license
reStructuredText auto Latex, XML, PseudoXML, HTML (w3c valid) Python License
Textile XHTML Textile License
Texy! XHTML or HTML (always valid well formed code) GNU GPL v2 License
txt2tags ? ? ? HTML, XHTML, SGML, LaTeX, Lout, UNIX man, Wikipedia, Google Code Wiki, DokuWiki, MoinMoin, MagicPoint, PageMaker GPL
MediaWiki ? GNU GPL

References

See also

External links

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