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

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 ResearchReceived on Tuesday, 18 August 1998 01:56:24 UTC

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