W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > August 1998

Re: HTML3 MATH tag

From: Neil Soiffer <soiffer@wri.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 1998 22:55:50 -0700
Message-Id: <199808180555.AA01771@drizzle.wri.com>
To: hammond@csc.albany.edu
Cc: www-math@w3.org
>   It is unclear how much improvement will arise as things evolve from
>   the dawn of MathML. My guess is that MathML will serve the needs of
>   the mathematical, scientific, and engineering communities, while still
>   permitting the loss of much of what we understand as ``content'' from
>   many resources on the web when that ``content'' is mathematical in
>   nature. Of course, provision for these considerations exists in
>   MathML. The question is how much attention will be paid to it due to
>   the fact that it is more expensive to handle.
>   
>   For example, I think that it could very well develop to be at least 10
>   years before mathematical content can be searched through major web
>   indexing and cataloging sites in any remotely robust way, while a
>   great deal more would be possible more cheaply if a few additional
>   arrangements were made for dealing crudely but faithfully with
>   mathematical content in basic HTML.

To the best of my knowledge, the W3C, Microsoft, and Netscape all feel
further development of HTML is a dead end.  All of their efforts are focused
on XML and style sheet related developments.  Adding a new tag to HTML
is not going to happen (IMHO)... especially not for math.
This is why the MathML committee decided to align its proposal with XML.
It may be possible to do some crude display of MathML with some style sheet
related proposals in the future, but good display of mathematics appears
to go beyond text formatting, which is the basic target of the style sheet
mechanism.

I disagree with your claim that "it could very well develop to be at least 10
years before mathematical content can be searched through major web indexing
and cataloging sites in any remotely robust way".  As soon as XML embedding
in HTML is standardized and a method for associating tags with external
apps is standardized, content searching and cataloging will be automatic.
Any proposal that was terminal-graphics based would be much more difficult
to search, and would certainly be invisible to standard HTML/XML/SGML
processing tools, not to mention be useless for those who are visually
impaired, those who want to do computations with it, and for those who
want to convert it to other forms.

Web time may be shorter than normal time, but it is not instantaneous.
The MathML recommendation was a forward looking recommendation and
requires many standards to be finished along with the software that
implements those standards before really good implemenations are available.
In the mean time, I believe that implementations such as WebEq are already
better than using GIFs, and are sure to improve over time.

	Neil Soiffer
	Wolfram Research
Received on Tuesday, 18 August 1998 01:56:24 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Saturday, 20 February 2010 06:12:48 GMT