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Betty

A more specific dialect of ArchieML. While working with editors and reporters, we often found that the format, while "forgiving," can be brittle (especially when combined with CommonMark content). In particular, multiline keys are prone to breaking (either containing no content, or enthusiastically eating the next object in a list). As a result, Betty makes the following changes:

  • Lists will start a new item when they see any redefined key, not just the first key in an object.
  • Multiline fields are now less ambiguous: open them with key:: and close with ::key.
  • You can provide options for behavior:
    • verbose - set this to be overwhelmed with logging messages
    • onFieldName - provide a callback that accepts a string key for mutation and returns the transformed version. Useful for lower-casing keys when Google Docs tries to capitalize them.
    • onValue - provide a callback that accepts the value and field name, and returns the actual value to add to the object. Useful for automatically casting dates, booleans, and numbers.

The module exports a single object with a parse() method, which accepts the text you want to parse and the options object. Example code for use is located in test.js.

You can also run the archieml-tests.js file to check against the files from the original specification repo where applicable. Although Betty is not fully-compliant with the ArchieML spec, it should handle existing content reliably.

Behind the scenes

When you call parse(), Betty actually runs through three stages before producing a final JSON object.

  1. A tokenizer breaks the text into a stream of tagged chunks, consisting of either possible syntax characters (such as {, }, and :) or text.
  2. The parser takes the stream of tokens and turns them into higher level instructions for things like "enter an array," "set a value at key.path," or "buffer this text."
  3. The assembler takes those instructions, pre-processes them (merging buffered strings together), then runs through the final stream of operations to actually assemble the object.

This is much more complex than the baseline ArchieML module. I personally think it's easier this way to reason about the logic for some of the language's "quirks," such as the inconsistent behavior of :end or \ as an escape. Your mileage may vary.

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An unambiguous dialect of ArchieML

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