TLDR; this commit vastly improves how whitespaces are handled when converting from HTML to Markdown.
It also adds support for converting HTML
<tables> to markdown tables.
remove_whitespaces! method was traversing the whole HTML tree and used a heuristic to remove
leading and trailing whitespaces whenever it was appropriate (ie. mostly before and after HTML block elements)
It was a good idea, but it was very limited and leaded to bad conversion when the html had leading whitespaces on several lines for example. One such example can be found here.
For various reasons, most of the whitespaces in a HTML file is ignored when the page is being displayed in a browser. The rules that the browsers follow are the CSS’ White Space Processing Rules. They can be quite complicated when you take into account RTL languages and other various tidbits but they boils down to the following:
- Collapse whitespaces down to one space (0x20) inside an inline context (ie. nodes/tags that are being displaying on the same line)
- Remove any leading/trailing whitespaces inside an inline context
One quick & dirty way of getting this 90% solved would be to do
HTML.gsub!(/[[:space:]]+/, " ").
We would also need to hoist
<pre> elements in order to not mess with their whitespaces.
Unfortunately, this solution let some whitespaces creep around HTML tags which leads to more
.strip! calls than I can bear.
I decided to “emulate” the browser’s handling of whitespaces and came up with a solution in 4 parts
The HtmlToMarkdown library is recursively “visiting” all the nodes in the HTML in order to convert them to Markdown.
All the nodes that aren’t handled by the library (eg.
<style> or any non-textual HTML tags) are “swallowed”.
In order to reduce the number of nodes visited, the method
remove_not_allowed! will automatically delete all the nodes
that have no “visitor” (eg. a
visit_<tag> method) defined.
Similar purpose as the previous method (eg. reducing number of nodes visited), there’s no point trying to convert something that is hidden.
remove_hidden! method removes any nodes that was hidden using the “hidden” HTML attribute, some CSS or with a width or height equal to 0.
hoist_line_breaks! method is there to handle
<br> tags. I know those tiny
<br> don’t do much but they can be quite annoying.
<br> tags are inline elements but they visually work like a block element (ie. they create a new line).
If you have the following HTML “
<i>Foo<br>Bar</i>”, it ends up visually similar to “
The latter being much more easy to process than the former, so that’s what this method is doing.
hoist_line_breaks will hoist
<br> tags out of inline tags until their parent is a block element.
remove_whitespaces! is where all the whitespace removal is happening. It’s broken down into 4 methods as well
remove_whitespace! method is recursively walking the HTML tree (skipping
If a node has any children, they will be chunked into groups of inline elements vs block elements.
For each chunks of inline elements, it will call the
For each chunks of block elements, it will call
remote_whitespace! to keep walking the HTML tree recursively.
is_inline? method determines whether a node is part of a inline context.
A node is inline iif it’s a text node or it’s an inline tag, but not
<br>, and all its children are also inline.
collapse_spaces! method will collapse any kind of (white) space into a single space (" ") character, even across tags.
For example, if we have “
Foo \n<i> Bar </i>\t42”, it will return “
Foo <i>Bar </i>42”.
remove_trailing_space! method is there to remove any trailing space that might creep in at the end of the inline chunk.
This solution is not 100% bullet-proof. It does not support RTL languages at all and has some caveats that I felt were not worth the work to get properly fixed.
FIX: switched Nokogiri to Nokogumbo for better HTML5 parsing
FIX: better detection of hidden elements when converting HTML to Markdown
FIX: take into account the
allowed_href_schemes site setting when converting HTML
<a> to Markdown
FIX: added support for ‘mailto:’ scheme when converting
<a> from HTML to Markdown
FIX: added support for
<img> dimensions when converting from HTML to Markdown
FIX: added support for
<dt> when converting from HTML to Markdown
FIX: added support for multilines emphases, strongs and strikes when converting from HTML to Markdown
FIX: added support for
<acronym> when converting from HTML to Markdown
DEV: remove unused ‘sanitize’ gem
Wow, did you just read all that?! Congratz, here’s a cookie: .