[Foundation-l] EBNF of Wikitext

David Strauss david at fourkitchens.com
Mon Jan 22 09:12:25 UTC 2007

To address the issue of the two quotes, EBNF does not directly help
there. EBNF does not define the tokens you use or their semantics. It
only helps you verify and convert raw text to a structured tree of
tokens. If one of your tokens happens to be a double quote, then the
problem remains.

EBNF would help, however, to expand MediaWiki markup and update it. With
the token trees EBNF provides, we could actually update existing
versions of articles to newer syntactical structures with relatively
little risk. (That's dependent on having a perfect characterization of
existing MediaWiki markup in EBNF, which might be impossible.)

So, theoretically, we could create an EBNF grammar for the current
MediaWiki markup, devise a replacement for the two quotes, and have the
parser output an equivalent in a newer MediaWiki markup form.

GerardM wrote:
> Hoi,
> Your do not address my main question; is this thing Internationalisation
> proof. I care little for something that brings new and or other
> incompatibilities. Bringing technical advantages does not necessarily make
> it work well in the real world and our real world is multi-linguistic.
> PS I do understand why something like EBNF is useful from a TECHNICAL point
> of view.
> Thanks,
>      GerardM
> On 1/22/07, Magnus Manske <magnusmanske at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> On 1/22/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hoi,
>>> When this provides a better result than our current wikisyntax when it
>>> comes to internationalisation there might be something to it. As you may
>>> know the use of two quotes to indicate italics breaks the usage of these
>>> same two quotes in languages like Neapolitan.
>>> When it provides this better result, there might be something to it.
>>> Otherwise to me it is a hopeless "see how clever we are" exercise never
>>> mind how "standard" it is. A standard that does not take
>>> internationalisation seriously is useless in an international
>>> environment like the Wikimedia projects.
>> EBNF is not a replacement for or variation of wikisyntax. It's a
>> different approach for a parser that understands the /current/
>> wikisyntax. That would
>> * clean up the mess that is the current parser
>> * allow the parser to be generated from EBNF automatically in
>> C/C++/C#/Perl/whatever
>> * ease generation of different output formats, such as XML (or PDF or
>> docbook or...)
>> * avoid most of those little implementation bugs that come with manual
>> parser writing
>> Magnus
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