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Re: MathML vs HTML math, vs ???

From: Gregory A. Landrum <landrum@HAL9000.ac.rwth-aachen.de>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 10:23:48 +0100 (CET)
To: www-math@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980127093125.2106B-100000@HAL9000.ac.rwth-aachen.de>
On Mon, 26 Jan 1998, Dave Raggett wrote:

> W3C aims to encourage interoperability. Wouldn't it be great if the
> same page can be  viewed using plugins from different vendors?
> This way vendors can compete on the features for manipulating and
> animating the expressions and not on the data format.

yeah, it would be great.  I like the idea of a standard.  Of course,
I also like the idea of being able to display equations on the web
in such a way that anyone can display them.

> [1] http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/EzMath
> 
> I plan to add support for reading MathML later this year. The
> plugin will be available free in a few days time from the HP Labs
> server. Let me know if you are interested. 

EzMath looks great.  It looks like it is easier to deal with than
MathML.  

Of course, the problem with all of these things, is that they are not
part of the HTML standard, so plugins are required.  This inevitably
limits the portability of whatever is used.  For example, I am sitting
at an IBM workstation running AIX.  This means that I cannot use most
plugins.  Even IBM's TechExplorer doesn't work on my machine.

I realize that this problem isn't even remotely the fault of the working
group, but is more a consequence of the economic factors driving the 
development of the HTML specification.  

I guess I am doomed to disappointment.  I love the web because I can
put up documents without worrying about what type of machine the
reader of the document is sitting at.  This means that I can put up
sophisticated documents (lacking equations, of course) and be guaranteed
that my computer-challenged Ph.D. advisor will be able to read and 
edit them.  I don't need to worry about what version of Word he is using,
or the fact that my three coworkers in three different countries are all
using different computers to read my pages, it just works.  

This kind of portability and ease is clearly a situation which is not
going to be realized any time soon in the world of math.  But, it's
certainly not the fault of the working group.  You guys are working
towards a markup language for math, not some way of getting math
into the HTML standard.  I was confused, and I directed my complaints
at the wrong target.  Sorry about that.


-greg

---------------------
Dr. Greg Landrum  (landrum@hal9000.ac.rwth-aachen.de)
Institute of Inorganic Chemistry
Aachen University of Technology
Prof.-Pirlet-Str. 1, D-52074 Aachen, Germany
Phone: 049-241-80-7004
Fax: 049-241-8888-288
Received on Tuesday, 27 January 1998 04:23:15 GMT

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