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Re: MathML and the Dream of Math on the Web

From: Pavi Sandhu <pavi@wolfram.com>
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 11:46:52 -0500
Message-Id: <v04210103b9dc811f5f11@[]>
To: Ka-Ping Yee <ping@zesty.ca>
Cc: www-math@w3.org

Several people have responded to the broader issues raised in the 
original posting. I will limit myself to correcting a specific 

At 7:28 AM -0400 10/22/02, Ka-Ping Yee wrote:
>Now imagine an ideal world where MathML and MINSE viewers work reliably
>on all the popular browsers.  What differences remain?
>    1.  You still can't easily edit MathML documents by hand.  This
>        means you can't maintain your math documents the same way you
>        maintain other Web documents.  You will have to get extra
>        software to help you edit MathML, and you probably won't be
>        able to use the same editors you normally do.  Sometimes you
>        will still have to keep two copies of things.
>    2.  You still can't extend MathML.  The only way to get a new tag
>        into MathML is by passing a new specification through the W3C
>        process, and then waiting for all the browsers and plug-ins
>        to implement it in the next version, and then waiting some more
>        until all the incompatibilities dissipate.  With MINSE, you
>        just update your stylesheet and supply the needed renderings.
>        As you share your extensions with your community, people settle
>        on common conventions and the language grows.
>    3.  You still can't teach MathML.  Books can't or won't explain how
>        to write MathML.  Learning MathML will be specific to learning
>        how to use a particular editor.  (This is analogous to being
>        unable to learn English; you can only choose to learn MS Word
>        or WordPerfect etc.)  You won't be able to communicate with
>        other people about how to write MathML if they use different
>        editing software.  And if the company making your editor goes
>        out of business, or the user interface of your editor changes
>        substantially, you'll have to relearn.

The above is not true. I know of at least one book dedicated to 
MathML - the one I wrote. It's called "The MathML Handbook" and is 
scheduled for publication next month. See:


Also, a few weeks ago another individual on this list indicated he 
was working on a proposal for a MathML book. So we might have 
additional books in the future.

MathML is going to be important and useful to a lot of people. So I'm 
not sure why you assume "books can't or won't explain how to write 


>    4.  You still can't be sure you're getting semantics in MathML.
>        You might get semantics, presentation, or a mixture of both.
>    5.  You still won't be able to send MathML in e-mail.  You still
>        won't be able to enter MathML into a form field.  But you can
>        do both easily with MINSE.
>    6.  When a new platform appears (e.g. a new handheld computer),
>        you'll have to wait for a viewer and editor to be ported to it
>        before you can use MathML.  But you can easily enter MINSE.
>        You can even read MINSE fairly easily without a viewer.
>-- ?!ng
>[1] http://minse.org/nph-pmpm.cgi/http://minse.org/example.html
>[2] http://www.mathtype.com/features/samples/compare/mathpage.htm
Received on Wednesday, 23 October 2002 12:47:17 UTC

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