Scribe (markup Language) - The Markup Language

The Markup Language

The idea of using markup language, in which meta-information about the document and its formatting were contained within the document itself, first saw widespread use in a program called RUNOFF; Scribe contained the first robust implementation of declarative markup language.

In Scribe, markup was introduced with an @ sign, followed either by a Begin-End block or by a direct token invocation:

@Heading(The Beginning) @Begin(Quotation) Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start @End(Quotation)

It was also possible to pass parameters:

@MakeSection(tag=beginning, title="The Beginning")

Typically, large documents were composed of Chapters, with each chapter in a separate file. These files were then referenced by a master document file, thereby concatenating numerous components into a single large source document. The master file typically also defined styles (such as fonts and margins) and declared macros like MakeSection shown above; macros had limited programmatic features. From that single concatenated source, Scribe computed chapter numbers, page numbers, and cross-references.

These processes replicate features in later markup languages like HTML. Placing styles in a separate file gave some advantages like Cascading Style Sheets, and programmed macros presaged the document manipulation aspects of JavaScript.

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