Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Trying to contain nuts.

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Stretchy Cheeks

For sequences, the explaining of, visually.
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Theres a lot one can explain simply by hooking together a series of labelled boxes in a line. Obviously more complex graphs involve arrangements of boxes and edges up and down as well as left and right, but for now just confine our scope to what can be explained by a line of connected boxes. That’s still quite a lot of things.

People try to do it with ascii art or symbol fonts, but of course the tops of boxes never line up with the ends, and it becomes a mess if you use correct proportional spaced nice looking typography (and who would be caught dead staring at ugly fault-indicating monospaced typography for any length of time).

Imagine a font, in which you could type boxes and put any other symbolic text inside those boxes, and connect boxes together to form a line of boxes, and these boxes just “accepted” whatever went in them no matter what the length.

It may be possible, if new characters were devised, that are essentially extensions of the [ and ] characters at their root. If a form of markdown were to accept for example a -[ and a ]- character pairing and converted it to a taller single glyph that resembled the ends of boxes and beginnings of a connecting line (or edges and vertices, to veer toward graph theory notation), that’d be as tart. The box ends or “cheeks” would be about three times the line-height or leading of the contained font, ascending and descending such that the contained font is rendered vertically central with respect to the end cheeks. This special end cheek font would, by special arrangement with the user-agent, "join up” by drawing (by itself) the remaining top and bottom lines to form a box. Similarly, the connecting line between cheeks would do the same, and form a line.

Lines of text in any font that has these extra unicode extension characters accessed by the markdown sequence would be able to (optionally) be justified across the width of the containing measure, so that the distance between boxes is filled with interconnecting line durations of a nice even length. The user-agent could handle the task of constructing the box and interconnect lines by switching (without the author having to bother) into and out of the appropriate unicode symbol fonts for box sides, ends, corners, etc. which already exist, or could optionally just draw the box shapes (i.e. on canvas, or directly rendered to the viewport as css borders, or webgl or whatever it wants).

For example, I might explain a sequence of actions as:
[fill kettle]- -[get cup]- -[switch kettle on]- -[put teabag in cup]- -[wait until water is boiled]- -[pour boiling water into cup]- -[wait three minutes]- -[stir teabag]- -[dispose of teabag]- -[put a dash of milk in]- -[optionally sweeten]- - [enjoy cup of tea]

and it would draw it out as a neat series of boxes without me having to faff with aligning tops and bottoms to them. The cheeks automatically stretch a top and a bottom between them.

Ian Tindale, May 05 2016

Tikz - a Tex package for diagramming http://www.texample...tikz/examples/tree/
It's not quite as simple as markdown, but looks like it might work reasonably well. [zen_tom, May 05 2016]

A question on Tikz on StackOverflow http://tex.stackexc...k-diagram-with-tikz
Here's an example that shows some of the features being described quite clearly. [zen_tom, May 05 2016]

http://pandoc.org/ http://pandoc.org/
[zen_tom, May 05 2016]

[link]






       I've been converted in the last 8 months or so to writing in Markdown, with $$-delimited Latex blocks for maths code, then compiling them to pdf using something called pandoc. It's a great workflow, and I'm still exploring lots of the ins and outs. Editing live document elements in markdown is great, and doing so under a git folder brings software-repository style revision history/management too, making the whole process a hundred times more convenient than it might be in WIZYWIG workflows.
zen_tom, May 05 2016
  

       Did you ever use DocBook before?
Ian Tindale, May 05 2016
  

       No I've not, but a quick google suggests that DocBook is one of the formats pandoc can ingest.
zen_tom, May 05 2016
  

       Have you ever fooled around with Powerpoint, Ian? It will make those right adjusted all-receiving boxes you crave. You can make them wiggle and dance too, if that helps you.
bungston, May 05 2016
  

       I think you've invented flowchart software.
Voice, May 05 2016
  
      
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