W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > whatwg@whatwg.org > June 2006

[whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5

From: White Lynx <whitelynx@operamail.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 14:57:22 +0400
Message-ID: <20060613105722.129C1CA0A4@ws5-11.us4.outblaze.com>
Ian Hickson wrote:
> WHATWG doesn't have a position on this -- different contributors have 
> different opinions, and no clear consensus is being reached as far as I 
> can tell.

I think from discussion it is clear that math markup is something that people are interested in,
in the same time I doubt that including MathML in HTML would add any new functionality as it is 
already included in XHTML and if desired can be embedded in text/html document too, nor will it make 
MathML more realistic (what is easier to implement MathML or MathML + complex parsing rules + MathML DOM?). 

> Personally I think the best way of demonstrating that no browser-native 
> support is required would be for someone to develop a specification for 
> mathematics markup using the microformats.org principles.

If the purpose is to demonstrate that basically no browser-native support is required 
then http://xml-maiden.com already provides some examples. Element naming conventions used there
differ, but basically it is isomorphic to current proposal and thus technical aspects such as
compatibility with CSS, XSL, current browsers are already tested. Changing current XML notations
to microformat in order to test it and then change back to XML mostly isomorphic to 
original one, will give us nothing new.

> If this 
> demonstrates that it really is possible to create viable math markup in 
> HTML and have it completely styled in CSS then that would be a good step 

This step is already made, now we need one more step to integrate markup 
with HTML and polish CSS unrelated issues, taking into account community requirements.
On this stage we need WHATWG (and browser developers too) to have clear position, either they are 
ready to allow mathematical markup like this in HTML or it will be blocked by WHATWG (rejecting proposals)
or browser developers (not fixing existing CSS bugs).
Other steps like adding some CSS extensions to make styling more convenient for authors,
can be made later. 

Some quotes from http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1150080202&count=1
> The WHATWG list has been ablaze with talk of mathematics markup. 
> I have not been taking part in the discussion much. 
> I pointed out that reinventing mathematics markup is a bad idea 
> when so many solutions have already been invented; 

Note that all but one from these many solutions were developed before
XML and CSS emerged and thus need to be updated. Web is not based on SGML/DSSSL 
it is based on XML/CSS/DOM, so ISO 12083, AAP Math DTD, Elsevier Math DTD and their 
variations are better to be updated before being used on web. What we propose is
to modify some CSS unfriendly parts of ISO 12083 and inlcude modified CSS friendly 
markup it in HTML5.

> I suggested that the idea that you could render the majority of mathematics 
> using just CSS was probably a little optimistic; 

Within the scope of current proposal that includes 

	1. Indices (subscripts, superscripts) that can be stacked, combined and nested
	2. Fractions including complex deeply nested ones
	3. Under and over scripts, including multiple complex under and over scripts applied to complex base
	4. Operators, including ones with under/over scripts or sub/superscripts
	5. Large brackets and fences, under and over braces
	6. Radicals including complex, deeply nested ones
	7. Matrices, determinants, vectors (deep nesting is allowed), cases (piecewise) construction and binomial coefficients

you can not argue that CSS rendering is impossible, at least because there is valid CSS2.1 
style sheet that handles all stuff listed above consistently (no matter how deeply expressions are nested)
because there are two interoperable implementations (Prince 5 or later and latests builds of Opera 9)
or two different rendering engines that have strong enough CSS support to process style sheet
properly, because most of other rendering engines (even Trident) are close to being able to process similar
default style sheet (a few bugs has to be fixed), because even perversed variation of CSS known as XSL FO 
can handle most of the stuff listed above and finally because even if only fractions would be suitable
for CSS rendering it would be enough to justify current discussion, as with fractions being included in HTML5
and simple indices already available in HTML4 people would be able to put at least very basic mathematical
content on web without revealing full power of human stupidity and full beauty of cross browser MathML 
(with couple of extra plugins/fonts of course).

> I explained that we could merge MathML into text/html HTML if we wanted to reuse MathML, 
> which would probably be the easiest solution since MathML is 
> already set up to work with the DOM and CSS and XML and namespaces;

Some time ago you argued that markup that was designed specially for usage in XML + CSS framework
and admits universal CSS style sheet can not be rendered with CSS. Now you argue that MathML, which is mainly 
critisized for verbosity and incompatibility with CSS, is already set up to work with the DOM and CSS and XML 
and namespaces. Making steps in opposite (but equally wrong) directions will not take us forward with current proposal.

By the way how exactly MathML is set up to work with CSS? For example could you put on table some kind 
of universal CSS style sheet for MathML? 
I know only one such style sheet, and even this one requires CSS3:
	@namespace mml url("http://www.w3.org/1998/MathML");
	mml|math {display:none} 
it is comprehensive and consistent, but as you see does not provide necessary functionality

> I'm not sure where to go with this. There is no clear consensus as to what we should add to HTML5, if anything.

Why not to go forward and make first step towards realistic mathematical markup that could work in average
browser and could be used by average user?

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Received on Tuesday, 13 June 2006 03:57:22 UTC

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