W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > April 2006

Correcting misperceptions about MathML usage

From: Robert Miner <robertm@dessci.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 12:50:25 -0700
Message-ID: <D1EFB337111B674B8F1BE155B01C6DD6D4234F@franklin.corp.dessci>
To: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Cc: <www-math@w3.org>


The MathML specification is 10 years old, and has gone through four
versions as a W3C Recommendation.  There are dozens of pieces of
software that seriously implement it, and millions of documents that use
it. For a credible, responsible standards organization such as W3C, that
imposes strenuous backwards compatibility constraints. It means among
other things that changing something as fundamental as the
representation of scripts is no longer feasible.  The only changes that
can be considered viable at this point in the lifespan of MathML are

I believe you have a faulty impression about the usage of, and hence the
constraints upon, MathML at this point in its lifecyle.  You wrote

	It is interesting that almost all of academic publishers are
	MathML promises and using other alternatives (at my current
knowledge only
	_Blackwell_ publisher is using MathML). For instance, the
	_Nature_ is working with ISO 12083.

However, that is false.  Among major technical publishers, I know that
Reed Elsevier, the American Chemical Society, the American Physics
Society, Houghton-Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and the US Patent Office,
to name a few, all use MathML in at least some of their publication
workflows.  Similarly, you seem unaware of the use of MathML in
enterprise publishing, but a short list of companies that I know are
using MathML includes Airbus, Boeing, Schlumberger, Becthel-Bettis,
Pratt and Whitney, Lexus-Nexus, NAG, SPSS and others.   Beyond that,
MathML is used extensively as a backend technology by a number of
educational technology vendors including course management systems such
as WebCT, eCollege, and Blackboard, automated assessment vendors such as
Questionmark Perception, Brownstone and ETS, and other educational
service and software vendors. Another area where MathML is playing a
significant role is accessibility.  The DAISY consortium of
accessibility technology vendors and advocates is in the process of
incorporating MathML into the DAISY file format. Consortium partners are
already hard at work looking at adding MathML-based accessibility
solutions to their software, and educational publishers in many contexts
in the US are compelled by law to make accessible materials available in
the DAISY format. This will have the effect of making mathematics in a
large body of content effectively and seamlessly accessible and widely
available to those with print disabilities for the first time. As you
may have seen on the list yesterday, now there are even effective tools
for using MathML right-to-left in Arabic-language documents.

In all of these arenas, there is substantial and rapidly growing use of
MathML, and W3C has a responsibility keep MathML stable for all of these
stakeholders.  As a consequence, as I stated above, the only changes
that will occur in MathML for the foreseeable future will be small,
incremental ones that maintain backward compatibility and offer existing
users a smooth, non-disruptive upgrade path. 

At the same time, it is true that the area where MathML has had the
least impact is as a hand-authored format for academics and hobbyists
publishing directly to the web.  This is obviously an area that you care
very much about. But as a standards organization, W3C cannot and should
not favor the interests of one particular interest group over others.
This is particularly true, as I explained in an earlier message, since
W3C is directly accountable to it dues-paying member organizations, and
only indirectly accountable to individuals with no official standing,
such as yourself.

If you want to work on devising a good input syntax for MathML that
meets your needs, and to present your ideas on this list for comment,
you are welcome to do so.  But I encourage you take the trouble to
understand the interests of the stakeholders in the discussion, and the
constraint that apply when considering changes to MathML.  

Beyond that, I must insist that everyone posting to this list respect
the conventions of civil discourse.  Name-calling and insinuation are
unacceptible, and will result in the poster being blocked if disruptive
behavior persists.


Robert Miner
W3C Math Interest Group co-chair
Director, New Product Development

- our address has changed -
Design Science, Inc.
140 Pine Avenue, 4th Floor
Long Beach, California  90802
Tel:  (651) 223-2883
Fax:  (651) 292-0014
~ Makers of MathType, MathFlow, MathPlayer, WebEQ, Equation Editor,
TexAide ~

-----Original Message-----
From: www-math-request@w3.org [mailto:www-math-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com
Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 1:21 PM
To: www-math@w3.org
Subject: Re: Technical reasons for some options taken on design of

Re: Technical reasons for some options taken on design of MathML

Bruce Miller wrote:
> juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com wrote:
>>  What is the objective of repeating I already said?
> I'm wondering the same thing.

That is your great contribution since February? I wonder more still.

> juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com wrote:
>> Any case the point is not possible misunderstanding about above
>> ASCII art did mean.
> The fact that everyone is asking what it meant and interpreting
> it differently than you apparently intended just might be a
> clue that it, in fact, _is_ possible to misunderstand.

But the point is not about misunderstanding a possible ASCII art. But by
remarking just that unimportant detail again you carefully ignore the
point of discussion; THAT point, which you are contributing with zero
ideas and data.

In fact, it has been well explained that ASCII art did mean, but you
continue emphasizing just that now. I wonder.

The important point (you carefully erased from my previous reply) is
the ASCII art cannot be encoded in MathML 2.0 but can be in ISO 12083.
Your noise reply cannot change that fact. Sorry if that was your

> Being a student, to varying degrees of success, of
> a few foreign languages, I'm generally not given
> to criticizing non-native speakers of english.
> However, I think that your comments would be more
> productive --- assuming you're actually
> trying to have a constructive discussion --- if
> you would spend a bit more effort (1) attempting
> to understand the explanations that have already
> been given to you and (2) explaining carefully
> and concisely exactly what you are looking for.

You can continue to add noise to discussion instead of providing
for problems are discussed here.

> Ranting, yelling, insulting and repeating yourself
> ever louder, all the while claiming that you couldn't
> possibly be misunderstood really isn't that productive.
> Nor does it reflect well on either you or the
> "Canonical Science" project.

I already suspected this kind of reply from you. You are providing
absolutely no serious thinking about nothing has been recently debated:
You are proposing none proposal, interesting discussion, technical
details, etc. since February. Again you continue with that politics of
noise to discussion or focus just in details very far from mathematical
issues debated.

You have provided none alternative, none evaluation of February
none thought about scripts, tokens, input syntaxes, scientific
requirements, semantics, etc.

This thread has a beatiful title: Technical reasons for some options
on design of MathML.

Your contribution to technical details has been one can read in your
previous message. Your reply is full of technical details ;-)

I do not need add anything more to your recent "political" message. You
are self-explicative...

> --
> bruce.miller@nist.gov
> http://math.nist.gov/~BMiller/

Juan R.

Received on Friday, 7 April 2006 19:50:35 UTC

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