NB! this page has been refactored, hopefully it is clearer now
I propose putting discussion posts somewhere in the vincity of the secttion Individual reStructuredText Issues



To be able to use rst as a first-class markup language in ikiwiki. I think most believe this is almost impossible (ikiwiki is built around markdown).


WikiLinks, first and foremost, are needed for a wiki. rST already allows specifying absolue and relative URL links, and relative links can be used to tie together wiki of rst documents.

  1. Below are links to a small, working implementation for resolving undefined rST references using ikiwiki's mechanism. This is Proposal 1 for rst WikiLinks.

  2. Looking over at rST-using systems such as trac and MoinMoin; I think it would be wiser to implement wikilinks by the :role: mechanism, together with allowing a custom URL scheme to point to wiki links. This is Proposal 2.

     This is a simple wiki page, with :wiki:`WikiLinks` and other_ links
     .. _other: wiki:wikilink
     We can get rid of the role part as well for WikiLinks::
         .. default-role:: wiki
     Enables `WikiLinks` but does not impact references such as ``other``
     This can be made the default for ikiwiki.

Benefits of using a :role: and a wiki: page/subpage URL scheme are following:

  1. rST documents taken out of the context (the wiki) will not fail as bad as if they have lots of Proposal-1 links: They look just the same as valid references, and you have to edit them all. In contrast, should the :wiki: role disappear, one line is enough to redefined it and silence all the warnings for the document:

     .. role:: wiki (title)


Implementation of Proposal-2 wikilinks are in the branch rst-wikilinks

    This is a simple wiki page, with :wiki:`WikiLinks` and |named| links

    .. |named| wiki:: Some Page

    We can get rid of the role part as well for WikiLinks::

        .. default-role:: wiki

    Enables `WikiLinks` but does not impact references such as ``named``
    This can be made the default for ikiwiki.

rst-wikilinks patch series includes changes at the end to use ikiwiki's 'htmllink' for the links (which is the only sane thing to do to work in all configurations). This means a :wiki:Link should render just exactly like ?Link whether the target exists or not.

On top of rst-wikilinks is rst-customize which adds two power user features: Global (python) file to read in custom directives (unsafe), and a wikifile as "header" file for all parsed .rst files (safe, but disruptive since all .rst depend on it). Well, the customizations have to be picked and chosen from this, but at least the global python file can be very convenient.

Did you consider just including the global rst header text into an item in the setup file? --Joey

Then rst_header would not be much different from the python script rst_customize. rst_header is as safe as other files (though disruptive as noted), so it should/could be a editable file in the Wiki. A Python script of course can not be. There is nothing you can do in the rst_header (that you sensibly would do, I think) that couldn't be done in the Python script. rst_header has very limited use, but it is another possibility, mainly for the user-editable aspect. --ulrik

(I foresaw only two things to be added to the rst_header: the default role could be configured there (as with rst_wikirole), and if you have a meta-role like :shortcut:, shortcuts could be defined there.)

I have some discussion on the docutils mailing list, the developers of docutils seems to favor "Proposal 1", while I defend my ideas. They want all users of ReST to use only the basic featureset to remain compatible, of course. -- ulrik

Some rst-custom examples are here


Now Directives: As it is now, ikiwiki goes though (roughly): filter, preprocess, htmlize, format as major stages of content transformation. rST has major problems to work with any HTML that enters the picture before it.

  1. Formatting rST in htmlize (as is done now): Raw html can be escaped by raw blocks:

     .. raw:: html
         [[!inline  and do stuff]]

    (This can be simplified to alias the above as .. ikiwiki::) This escape method works, if ikwiki can be persuaded to maintain the indent when inserting html, so that it stays inside the raw block.

  2. Formatting rST in filter (idea)

    1. rST does not have to see any HTML (raw not needed)
    2. rST directives can alias ikiwiki syntax:

      ..ikiwiki:: inline pages= ...

    3. Using rST directives as ikiwiki directives can be complicated; but rST directives allow a direct line (after :: on first line), an option list, and a content block.

You've done a lot of work already, but ...

The filter approach seems much simpler than the other approaches for users to understand, since they can just use identical ikiwiki markup on rst pages as they would use anywhere else. This is very desirable if the wiki allows rst in addition to mdwn, since then users don't have to learn two completly different ways of doing wikilinks and directives. I also wonder if even those familiar with rst would find entirely natural the ways you've found to shoehorn in wikilinks, named wikilinks, and ikiwiki directives?

Htmlize in filter avoids these problems. It also leaves open the possibility that ikiwiki could become smarter about the rendering chain later, and learn to use a better order for rst (ie, htmlize first). If that later happened, the htmlize in filter hack could go away. --Joey

(BTW, the txt plugin already does html formatting in filter, for similar reasons.) --Joey

Thank you for the comments! Forget the work, it's not so much. I'd rank the :wiki: link addition pretty high, and the other changes way behind that:

The :wiki:Wiki Link syntax is very appropriate as rst syntax since it fits well with other uses of roles (notice that :RFC:822 inserts a link to RFC822 etc, and that the default role is a title role (title of some work); thus very appropriate for medium-specific links like wiki links. So I'd rank :wiki: links a worthwhile addition regardless of outcome here, since it's a very rst-like alternative for those who wish to use more rst-like syntax (and documents degrades better outside the wiki as noted).

Unsure about the degredation argument. It will work some of the time, but ikiwiki's linkingrules are sufficiently different from normal html relative link rules that it often won't work. --Joey

With degradation I mean that if you take a file out of the wiki; the links degrade to stylized text. If using default role, they degrade to :title: which renders italicized text (which I find is exactly appropriate). There is no way for them to degrade into links, except of course if you reimplement the :wiki: role. You can also respecify either the default role (the wikilink syntax) or the :wiki: role (the :wiki:wikilink syntax) to any other markup, for example None. --ulrik

The named link syntax (just like the :wiki: role) are inspired from trac and a good fit, but only if the wiki is committed to using only rst, which I don't think is the case.

The rst-customize changes are very useful for custom directive installations (like the sourcecode directive, or shortcut roles I show in the examples page), but there might be a way for the user to inject docutils addons that I'm missing (one very ugly way would be to stick them in sitecustomize.py which affects all Python programs).

With the presented changes, I already have a working RestructuredText wiki, but I'm admitting that using .. raw:: html around all directives is very ugly (I use few directives: inline, toggle, meta, tag, map)

On filter/htmlize: Well rst is clearly antisocial: It can't see HTML, and ikiwiki directives are wrappend in paragraph tags. (For wikilinks this is probably no problem). So the suggestion about .. ikiwiki: is partly because it looks good in rst syntax, but also since it would emit a div to wrap around the element instead of a paragraph.

I don't know if you mean that rst could be reordered to do htmlize before other phases? rst must be before any preprocess hook to avoid seeing any HTML.

One of my long term goals is to refactor all the code in ikiwiki that manually runs the various stages of the render pipeline, into one centralized place. Once that's done, that place can get smart about what order to run the stages, and use a different order for rst. --Joey

If I'm thinking right, processing to HTML already in filter means any processing in scan can be reused directly (or skipped if it's legal to emit 'add_link' in filter.)

-- ulrik

Seems it could be, yes. --Joey

It is not clear how we can work around reST wrapping directives with paragraph tags. Also, some escaping of xml characters & <> might happen, but I can't imagine right now what breakage can come from that. -- ulrik


Preserving indents in the preprocessor are in branch pproc-indent

(These simple patches come with a warning: Those are the first lines of Perl I've ever written!)

This seems like a good idea, since it solves issues for eg, indented directives in mdwn as well. But, looking at the diff, I see a clear bug:

  •                           return "[[!$command <span class=\"error\">".
  •                           $result = "[[!$command <span class=\"error\">".

That makes it go on and parse an infinitely nested directive chain, instead of immediatly throwing an error.

Also, it seems that the "indent" matching in the regexps may be too broad, wouldn't it also match whitespace before a directive that was not at the beginning of a line, and treat it as an indent? With some bad luck, that could cause mdwn to put the indented output in a pre block. --Joey

You are probably right about the bug. I'm not quite sure what the nested directives examples looks like, but I must have overlooked how the recursion counter works; I thought simply changing if to elif the next few lines would solve that. I'm sorry for that!

We don't have to change the $handle function at all, if it is possible to do the indent substitution all in one line instead of passing it to handle, I don't know if it is possible to turn:

 $content =~ s{$regex}{$handle->($1, $2, $3, $4, $5)}eg;


 $content =~ s{$regex}{s/^/$1/gm{$handle->($2, $3, $4, $5)}}eg;

Well, no idea how that would be expressed, but I mean, replace the indent directly in $handle's return value.

Yes, in effect just indent($1, handle->($2,$,4)) --Joey

The indent-catching regex is wrong in the way you mention, it has been nagigng my mind a bit as well; I think matching start of line + spaces and tabs is the only thing we want. -- ulrik

Well, seems you want to match the indent at the start of the line containing the directive, even if the directive does not start the line. That would be quite hard to make a regexp do, though. --Joey

I wasted a long time getting the simpler indent($1, handle->($2,$,4)) to work (remember, I don't know perl at all). Somehow $1 does not arrive, I made a simple testcase that worked, and I conclude something inside $handle results in the value of $1 not arriving as it should!

Anyway, instead a very simple incremental patch is in pproc-indent where the indentation regex is (^[ \t]+|) instead, which seems to work very well (and the regex is multiline now as well). I'm happy to rebase the changes if you want or you can just squash the four patches 1+3 => 1+1 -- ulrik


I guess you (or someone) has been through this before and knows why it simply won't work. But I hoped there was something original in the above; and I know there are wiki installations where rST works. --ulrik

Individual reStructuredText Issues

  • We resolve rST links without definition, we don't help resolving defined relative links, so we don't support specifying link name and target separately.

    • Resolved by |replacement| links with the wiki:: directive.

A first implementation: Resolving unmatched links

I have a working minimal implementation letting the rst renderer resolve undefined native rST links to ikiwiki pages. I have posted it as one patch at:

Preview commit: http://github.com/engla/ikiwiki/commit/486fd79e520da1d462f00f40e7a90ab07e9c6fdf
Repository: git://github.com/engla/ikiwiki.git

Design issues of the patch:

The page is rST-parsed once in 'scan' and once in 'htmlize' (the first to generate backlinks). Can the parse output be safely reused?

The page content fed to htmlize may be different than that fed to scan, as directives can change the content. If you cached the input and output at scan time, you could reuse the cached data at htmlize time for inputs that are the same -- but that could be a very big cache! --Joey

I would propose using a simple heuristic: If you see [[ anywhere on the page, don't cache it. It would be an effective cache for pure-rst wikis (without any ikiwiki directives or wikilinks). However, I think that if the cache does not work for a big load, it should not work at all; small loads are small so they don't matter. --ulrik

Another possiblity is using empty url for wikilinks (gitit uses this approach), for example:

`SomePage <>`_

Since it uses empty url, I would like to call it proposal 0 :-) --weakish