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

Easy math input language for MathML

From: William F. Hammond <hammond@csc.albany.edu>
Date: Mon, 4 May 1998 17:27:59 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199805042127.RAA01107@hilbert.math.albany.edu>
To: olle_jarnefors@liberal.se, rminer@geom.umn.edu
Cc: emj@cnsibm.albany.edu, www-math@w3.org
Olle J\:arnefors, <olle_jarnefors@liberal.se> wrote to www-math@w3.org
on Thu, 30 Apr 1998 14:41:49 +0100 in part:

> Is it still the ambition of the HTML-Math WG to define 
> such a language for easy math input (and possibly fall-back
> representation of math for web browsers lacking special
> math support) as a layer above the basic MathML layer?

Robert Miner <rminer@geom.umn.edu> replied on Thu, 30 Apr 1998
22:40:50 -0500 (CDT) in part:

> Yes.  However, instead of a single language, we intend to develop many
> such languages specialized for various user communities.
> 
>  In fact, we have already begun.  Several are already available from
> our group member organizations, and several others are in advanced
> prototyope stages.  Here is a partial list of MathML software, and the
> input languages they offer:

Robert Miner goes on to list:

   1.  WebEQ (Geometry Technologies, Inc.) -- proprietary
   2.  IBM Techexplorer -- proprietary
   3.  Ez Math (D. Raggett of W3C) --free
   4.  Amaya (W3C) -- free

(Free trials are available for the two proprietary items.  Robert Miner
is associated with Geometry Technologies, Inc.)

It is a very important question what language an author uses to mark
up a document.  Ideally, a document marked up in a language with high
"potential energy" can be subsequently processed by robots for many
different purposes.  There may be human-authorable SGML instances (but
not HTML) that can be cited as examples.  The most impressive example
that I have seen is "Texinfo" (the Gnu documentation language).

Natively Texinfo flows to either (1) "TeX" or (2) "Gnu-Info", but
there is a very nice Perl script, developed originally at CERN by
Lionel Cons, that flows Texinfo into HTML.  (See the URL
ftp://ftp.cs.umb.edu/pub/tex/texi2html .)

Unfortunately, there is no math in "Texinfo" although math can be
included for regular TeX processing.

It is possible to imagine an extension of math into Texinfo that
could be flowed (1) into TeX or (2) by an extension of "texi2html"
into HTML extended as an SGML by MathML presentation tags.

"Ez Math" does appear to be an input language for MathML although it
does not for now suit my taste.

I fail to see how either IBM's Techexplorer, which is a browser
plug-in for rendering TeX source, or W3C's Amaya, which is both a
MathML rendering browser and a point-and-click MathML editor, offer a
response to the question about an easy input language for (conversion
to) MathML.

I am not happy at the prospect of the fruit of my personal labor
being tied up in a proprietary language.  (This does not mean that
I object to robotic images of my markup in proprietary formats.
On the other hand, public document formats are preferable.)

Questions:

1.  Is the WebEQ input language a proprietary language?

2.  Is it possible to retrieve a description of the WebEQ input
    language anonymously?

                                   -- Bill Hammond
Received on Monday, 4 May 1998 17:28:06 GMT

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