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

[whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2006 06:42:15 +0000 (UTC)
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0606180553130.4826@dhalsim.dreamhost.com>
On Mon, 12 Jun 2006 juanrgonzaleza at canonicalscience.com 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.
> 
> It has been taken one! The draft of the specification recommends the 
> usage of MathML for mathematics.

Hm, good point. This wasn't particularly intentional. Fixed.


> ii) The WHATWG follows an official position stated in the Mozilla and
> Opera manifesto.

Indeed. (I wrote most of that manifesto and wrote the WHATWG charter.)


> MathML violates the official possition because is not based in reusing 
> backward compatibility with HTML + CSS + DOM.

MathML works fine with DOM, and it would be just as possible to convert 
MathML to SVG as it would to convert anything else to SVG (as you suggest 
below).


> iii) I am reading many people interested in native support for 
> mathematics in HTML5.

Certainly. The question is how. There have been several proposals. My 
recommendation to those who think it is possible to re-use CSS to get an 
acceptable level of Math support would be to go through the Microformats 
process to prove the case.

It doesn't make sense to bless a dozen new tags (or more) to be in the 
HTML namespace (and thus with us for all time!) without first proving that 
yes, that approach is good enough for mathematicians and scientists.


> However, i do not remember of some example that was correctly encoded in 
> p-MathML with current tools and correctly rendered via browsers cannot 
> be encoded via George CSS approach.

Stretchy glyphs are one example. You can do basic maths with CSS, sure. 
It's the high-end typography that's the problem.


> vi) There is an increasing interest in graphical improvements of CSS.
> Mozilla Corporation and L. David Baron want substitute SVG capabilities
> via CSS (March 2006) without duplicating code.
>
> [http://dbaron.org/css/css-vg/]

I'm familiar with that, I think I was the first person David showed this 
to. I'm in the CSS working group as well, by the way. :-)


> I also would recommend a reading of
> 
> [http://people.opera.com/howcome/1999/foch.html]
> 
> since several comments also hold to the w3c idea of serving 
> presentational MathML on the web.

I am intimately familiar with this document too, howcome and I have 
chatted about this many times over lunch...

Note that the proposal to have Math in HTML in a way that can be rendered 
using CSS is also a kind of presentational Math and not a pure-semantic 
Math, so arguing that we shouldn't use p-MathML because it isn't semantic 
would not be consistent with arguing we should be purely CSS-compatible.


> Therefore, since this HTML5 work is for a better (backward compatible) 
> work can be easily implemented in browsers and inexpensively used by 
> street people, I carefully recommend further discussion of mathematical 
> capabilities into HTML5.

WHATWG is based strongly on "the proof is in the pudding" -- while 
discussion on this list is welcome, I would encourage people to work on 
showing that their solutions can be practical in the real world.


> However, official positions from several parties here implied would be 
> welcomed before. Specially interesting for this WG would be position 
> from browser developers.

Howcome has stated his opinion, I believe; the idea of porting MathML to 
HTML5 was originally put forward by the Mozilla team. I do not recall any 
opinions from Safari or Microsoft developers on the topic.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Saturday, 17 June 2006 23:42:15 UTC

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