Advanced post option to override markdown linebreak setting

Some of our advanced markdown users have been bitten by our default setting for linebreaks:


After furiously typing beautiful prose in vim, they paste it into the composer and are befuddled and ridiculed because their post looks like this:

I’m trying to get people in general
(and engineers more specifically)
to pair on prose.

Using an editor with line numbers,
and breaking things up by clause,
makes pairing more natural and easier.

Would it be feasible to have an advanced composer option to override the line break setting on a per post basis?

1 Like

Not really — use explicit line breaks with two spaces at the end of a line or the common mark explicit line break character sequence.


Does anyone more familiar with the code have a sense for how difficult this would be to do as a plugin?

Note that even on GitHub which is far more developer centric than Discourse, the behavior defaults to return as a line break.


This would be super tricky, cause where would we store this metadata? It really would need to be in raw which would involve a pretty ugly HTML comment or something.

Was discussed here:


I don’t know how feasible this would be to actually implement, but would it be possible to define a bbcode ‘block’ which changes the line break rules? (in a plugin)

So you would end up with something like:

This text
is on different lines

This text
will all be
on the same

This is
another line

That way it could be available to power users, without needing any metadata attached to the post :thinking:


Oh … a BBCode block plugin that did this would be quite straight forward, maybe 20 lines of code.


This sounds like a pretty good way forward to me!


Hey, I’m pretty psyched about the idea proposed here to do a BBCode block.

It made me think of something else though, that I want to float here to see what folks think.

I’m wondering if this is an opportunity to actually improve commonmark itself to support directives within a document for different rendering options.

There were some hints of exploring an idea like this in a few posts in this topic on the commonmark forum. For example:

The current spec says “A renderer may also provide an option to render soft line breaks as hard line breaks.”, which I take to mean that a rendere might have an option, like a commandline or configuration option, to render hardbreaks instead of softbreaks. Even though this seems like a solution, it’s not, due to lack of granularity.

More specifically, this would mean you could turn this option on or off for a single user or perhaps even system. However, a single user might have different needs in different documents and, as shown above, even different needs within a document.

If we could somehow detect between the different types of “paragraphs” (or rather, distinguish between a paragraph and a group of lines) without adding markupt for that this would be great. Comment #41 has a proposal for this, but I simply don’t think we can come up with something that works in enough cases, so the second-best option would be to somehow mark a single paragraph, or a block of markdown, to use hard-rendered linebreaks?

I’m thinking about something along the lines of the ``` syntax that can be prefixed and postfixed to a list of blocks to make linebreaks inside them rendered hard.

In many ways, what we’re proposing here is exactly that. Within Discourse, BBCode blocks work well already for things like [details="foo"]. Maybe that’s the easiest place to start here.

But I’m also wondering whether there’s something more generic here as feedback/input we can provide upstream to commonmark to allow for blocks within a doc to use different rendering options. Do you think it’s worth exploring that further as well?


To be honest with you, its VERY super DUPER hard to convince CommonMark to make any changes. Even trivial things like image dimensions are still being discussed after years and years.

I would not count on anything really happening there, the ship is just too big to steer and the project is incredibly change averse and laser focused on just attacking the thousands of edge cases Markdown presents.


I’m curious why you think the plugin route in particular is the right place to start with this. Is this the kind of thing that may eventually make it’s way into core?

I don’t think it is too likely we will add this to core. Since this must run server side, the only other option is a plugin. Theme components have no mechanism for running server side, by design.


Well, that sort of depends where you look. The rendering of a markdown file in GitHub or in GitHub pages uses traditional line breaks. Not having physical line breaks in the text of a paragraph is unfriendly to change tracking, so adding un-rendered physical line breaks is extremely useful for substantial pieces of writing that evolve. Many (though not most) forum postings have this property.

It’s only in more casual contexts like issues and PR comments that GitHub uses non-traditional (“GitHub flavored”) markdown where single line breaks are significant. I’m certain they did that as a concession to developers, who may quickly type a little code into an issue without indenting it or enclosing it in triple-backquotes.

So non-traditional markdown is really the more developer-centric choice. Nothing obliges you to break long lines when typing into a forum post, and IME most people want to see a blank line between paragraphs both where they’re typing Markdown and where it’s rendered, so there’s no advantage to the default setting for most people.