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Re: Nov. 16 2004 Working Drafts Published

From: Neil Soiffer <NeilS@DesSci.com>
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 22:51:09 -0800
Message-ID: <0c2001c4cd3a$fc67e100$6601a8c0@raindrops>
To: "Ben Caldwell" <caldwell@trace.wisc.edu>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

First a quick introduction:  I've been a member of the WG for a couple of
months, but haven't had time to catch up with all of the work you have
done -- this is a amazingly prolific group!  I've been a member of the
MathML WG (currently an Interest Group) since it's beginning.  I was
originally Wolfram Research's (Mathematica) MathML representative and moved
to Design Science (MathType, MathPlayer) a couple of years ago and have been
a MathML representative there.  At Design Science, I have spearheaded the
company's efforts to make math more accessible to those with print-related
disabilities (blindness, low-vision, and certain learning disorders).  To
date, this has mainly involved making MathPlayer (a free MathML plug-in for
IE which can be downloaded from www.dessci.com) work with screen readers and
LD software [synchronized highlighting of subexpressions as their are

I apologize for the last minute nature of my comments.  Other than a few
easy editorial corrections noted below, my comments probably should be
classified as the first non-WG comments on the working drafts.

Neil Soiffer                     email: neils@dessci.com
Senior Scientist                 phone: 562-433-0685
Design Science, Inc.             http://www.dessci.com
"How Science Communicates"
MathType, WebEQ, MathPlayer, Equation Editor, TeXaide

Section:  Alternative views of mathematical expressions

MathML will typically scale with the rest of the text.  One of MathPlayer's
features is "MathZoom" which redraws the expression using larger fonts
(click on the expression to make it bigger).  This is not hard to do and
could be easily added to Mozilla/Netscape/FireFox's MathML support if the
developers decide to do it.   Because of this, I feel that MathML should be
listed before SVG as a suggested method to allow for zooming.

Section:  Markup and style sheets rather than images: the example of math

FYI:  there are at least three projects that I know of that are working on
searching math based on MathML.

FYI:  two of the largest math websites, mathworld.wolfram.com and
functions.wolfram.com, will be offering their mathematical content as MathML
as part of an NSF grant.  This allows their math content to be searched and
also allows it to be used as input to many mathematical computation systems.

Although TeX is widely used in a number of very important communities such
as research mathematics and physics, a survey of technical publishers done
by Design Science a few years ago found that over 80% of their submissions
were Word documents -- math was typically done by the built-in equation
editor to Word or by MathType, the equation editor's "professional" upgrade.
Hence, the phrase "TeX is commonly used..." overstates TeX's prominence.

Also, an important option for those using TeX to publish on the web are TeX
tools that produce MathML for the math part of the output.  Some examples
are Hermes (www.aei.mpg.de/hermes), TeX4ht
(www.cse.ohio-state.edu/~gurari/TeX4ht/mn.html), and Ttm
(hutchinson.belmont.ma.us/tth -- site seems dead right now).  These allow
people to author in TeX/LaTeX and still produce documents that have the
accessibility benefits of MathML.  The option of generating MathML from TeX
should be mentioned here, and it probably should be listed as desirable
approach to take.

The MathML reference should point to MathML V2.0 (Second Edition)
(http://www.w3.org/TR/MathML2/) -- the current recommendation.  Currently,
MathML 1.0 is referenced.
Received on Thursday, 18 November 2004 06:51:40 UTC

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