[Doc-SIG] The Rise and Fall of Indented Sections

David Goodger dgoodger@bigfoot.com
Tue, 19 Jun 2001 00:14:05 -0400

Following two impassioned arguments [1]_ on the Doc-SIG against
abolishing indentation for section structure, I reconsidered my
arguments and posted a comporomise `Proposal for indented sections in

.. [1] One from `Wolfgang Lipp`_ and one from `Edward Welbourne`_.

.. Wolfgang Lipp:
.. Edward Welbourne:
.. Proposal for indented sections in reStructuredText:

Response from most of the pro-indentation camp was positive. `Guido
van Rossum`_ was against section-indentation, citing 30+ centuries of
tradition, reinforcing my original arguments, and invoking "there's
only one way to do it." As Dictator and chief arbiter of Python
morals, Guido's opinions are always influential. But the most
convincing arguments came from a surprising source: `Ken Manheimer`_,
a once-stalwart proponent of indented sections, made a strong case
*against* their continued use. He still likes them, finds them easier
to read, but concedes that they can be hard to write. He'll miss them.

You've got to admire that kind of objectivity.

.. Guido van Rossum:
.. Ken Manheimer:

Convinced by Guido's and Ken's arguments, in the wee hours of Friday,
June 15, I put out a call for final arguments in favor of indented
sections. Some attempts were made, but we knew the cause was lost. It
is my sad duty to report the tragic demise of indented sections in

Indented sections are dead! Long live reStructuredText!

In Memoriam

Born June 12, died June 18. It had a brief but exciting life.
Requiescat In Pace.

For the sake of posterity, the text removed from the spec regarding
indented sections is included below.

Removed from `Problems With StructuredText`_, version 0.2.1, end of
section 3:

    However, indented sections are dear to many users of
    StructuredText. reStructuredText recognizes the value of indented
    sections by also allowing entire section bodies to be indented
    relative to the title. Title adornment (an underline and possibly
    an overline) is still required, as is overall consistency. Once a
    section is indented, all subsections must also be indented
    relative to their titles. Title adornment style usage must remain

.. Problems With StructuredText:

Removed from `reStructuredText Markup Specification`_, version 0.2.1,
'Section Structure', end of first paragraph:

    A section may optionally be indented relative to its enclosing
    block. Once a section is indented, all of its subsections must be
    further indented.

End of second paragraph:

    With indented sections, adornment styles may be reused.

.. reStructuredText Markup Specification:

David Goodger    dgoodger@bigfoot.com    Open-source projects:
 - Python Docstring Processing System: http://docstring.sf.net
 - reStructuredText: http://structuredtext.sf.net
 - The Go Tools Project: http://gotools.sf.net