Tuesday, September 24, 2002 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Smart Punctuation

My current source of frustration with Movable Type is that smart punctuation doesn’t Just Work. Daring Fireball recommends storing dumb punctuation in the database and using a Movable Type template module to educate it during the rendering process. Certainly this is better than writing the HTML entities by hand, but I think the database should store the truth. That’s the only way to ensure that the output is what the author intended, because every education algorithm gets a few cases wrong. Sure, most of these cases involve inch marks, nested quotations, or deliberate examples of incorrect punctuation, but it’s the principle! I shouldn’t have to think about how the text will be processed on the way out of the database, because that might change. Current solution: make a BBEdit stationery pad with smart quotes, soft wrapping, and the language set to HTML. Generate HTML using the Markup tools to make sure it uses dumb quotes. If I want dumb quotes for an inch mark, hold down Control. Use the Translate tool just before pasting into iCab. Flout Amdahl’s law.


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