From: White Lynx <whitelynx@operamail.com>

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 15:55:25 +0400

To: www-math@w3.org

Message-Id: <20060412115525.5191843AA1@ws5-1.us4.outblaze.com>

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 15:55:25 +0400

To: www-math@w3.org

Message-Id: <20060412115525.5191843AA1@ws5-1.us4.outblaze.com>

David Carlisle wrote: > As for popular, it's clear that MathML has been vastly more popular than > any previous SGML or XML markup for mathematics. I am 100% sure that if Math WG would do nothing at all and HTML WG would just add couple of lines <!ENTITY % Misc.class "| dformgrp | dformula | formula"> <!ENTITY % math PUBLIC "ISO 12083:1998//DTD Math//EN" "iso-12083-math.dtd">%math; to XHTML DTD we would have much better web today. For me it is cristally clear that math community would quickly embrace ISO 12083 approach. Consider for instance: <p> This is paragraph that contains famous formula <formula> E = mc<sup>2</sup> </formula> </p> It fits much better in the general scope of HTML document then <p> This is paragraph that contains famous formula <math mode="display" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML"> <mi>E</mi><mo>=</mo><mrow><mi>m</mi><msup><mi>c</mi><mn>2</mn></msup></mrow> </math> </p> Judge yourself, which one would have larger user community? Simple, easy to learn and easy to use ISO stanadard or bloated, contraversial W3C recommendation. > and other > SGML DTD for mathematics (eg Elsevier's) were pretty much only used by > large publishing houses. 1. SGML itself was not widely used (unlike XML). 2. Web delivery of SGML documents was a problem (browsers did not support it, and ability to display mathematics in browsers is a key motivation for switching to XML) 3. Lack of Unicode support in SGML tools made it less attractive > many of them are switching or thinking of > switching to MathML and MathML is used in so many more contexts. The more people are switching to MathML the more important internal problems of MathML become. Unfortunately W3C does not want to recongize and address these problems and such an attitude undermines development of scientific web. > If it's so clear that ISO 12083 is superior, why was it not picked up to > be used in Computer algebra systems > (mathematica and maple both support mathml) ISO 12083 is Electronic Manuscript Standard, as name suggests it is oriented on electronic publishing. > or word processors (Word+MathPlayer, OpenOffice, AbiWord and > SciWriter for example all support MathML) Authoring tool makers constitute the only part of MathML community that could be happy with artificially bloated syntax. Markup that being unreadable and unprocessable by humans, forces people to buy WYSIWYG toys, is perfect solution for commercial software makers, who if I am not mistaken played crusial role in making "political decision" that resulted current MathML syntax. > Plus of course support in web browsers. The reason why ISO 12083 is not good candidate for being supported by browsers is technical. ISO 12083 was designed before the current web standards. It could be used with ISO other standards (SGML and DSSSL), but once one replaces ISO SGML+DSSSL with W3C XML+CSS which is completely different framework, one immidiately realizes that ISO 12083 has to be changed in order to work consistently with the rest of web standards (including CSS and DOM). Resolving this problem is one of things that Math WG could do, but instead MathML inherited all incompatibility problems of ISO 12083 and added even more headache to browser developers. I wonder why? In the same time I think that browser vendors should be involved in WG somehow, otherwise you tend to write things that by design are not suitable for implementing in CSS rendering engine which is core of any modern browser. As a result MathML is implemented "on the top" without decent integration with the rest of engine, this is what we see in MathML enabled Gecko, in MSIE with MathPlayer, in Opera with UserJS (appropriate UserJS is avilable for recent builds of Opera 9) and Prince Formatter (work on MathML in Prince is still in progress). In these implementations MathML is modified internally to make it suitable for formatting in CSS rendering engine and needless to say such a modification affect CSS and DOM that are either partly disabled or no longer work as they are supposed to. > We are currently looking for requirements for improvements to MathML for > a possible MathML3, but clearly MathML is not going to make a backward > incompatible change to its script markup. Once the main design principles remain the same, I see simply no space for any progress. > I suspect that what you want to do is design your own > XML DTD and then have stylesheets that translate this to MathML for > public use. Do you mean that MathML is more suitable for public use then anything else? Let us consider simple example. With custom DTD I can type my articles in plain text editor like EmEditor ar Textpad without using WYSIWYG tools (WYSIWYG is good solution for teenage girls who like to weave dreams thinking that what they see is what they get, but is less attractive for scientist who wants to encode formulae accurately), I can put them on web like this: http://geocities.com/chavchan/xml10/ And I can view them in almost any browser including Opera, Safari, Mozilla and MSIE (argument is valid for simple articles, too complex formulae would require better CSS support in Mozilla, Safari and MSIE, unfortunately the day when we'll get interoperable CSS2.1 support in all major browsers is still several years away, but progress is clear). Now why should I translate them in MathML and how exactly it would improve user experience? >From the first glance it looks like I have to pay more for bandwidth (MathML markup is several times heavier), site visitors can drink some coffee while page is loading (here are examples http://hermes.aei.mpg.de/ , can any browser render MathML incrementally? In XML+CSS approach at least two browsers Opera and MSIE render page incrementally), I will add "Please download MathPlayer plugin" message for MSIE users, ask Safari users to download another browser specially for viewing my site, ask Opera users to get another UserJS patch and Mozilla users to download extra fonts. What a great browsing experince! And this is only one part of the artificially created problem known as MathML. So why should one translate something to MathML? Robert Miner wrote: > For a credible, responsible standards organization such as W3C, that > imposes strenuous backwards compatibility constraints. XLink, MathML and XSL FO recomendations left me no chances to consider W3C as credible and responsible organization. > W3C cannot and should > not favor the interests of one particular interest group over others. Then why it favours interest of authoring tools makers and ignors the rest of interested parties including but by no means limited to authors that need reasonable, human processable markup, browser developers that need markup compatible with the rest of standards issued by the same organization (W3C), users that would be happier with less bloated solution and database administarators that compress even latex files to save space? > 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. Are not browser vendors dues-paying organizations? > 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. Personally I understand interests of stackholdes but don't plan to respect any "interests" that clearly undermine development of scientific web, reverse evolution of mathematical markup and may bring irreparable damage to scientific community. If number of MathML content on web will grow significantly it will be impossible to make drastical changes in MathML and thus all current problems of this markup language will stay with us forever in the form of heavy legacy that restricts scientific web from rushing ahead. When standards become much worse then they were ten and even twenty years ago it is time to ring the bells. > Below I claim there are > millions of documents that use MathML. I should have said millions of > pages. Some time ago I was searching for scientific articles with MathML formulae to test UserJS implementation of MathML in Opera and failed to find anything but http://hermes.aei.mpg.de/ If someone could tell me where these millions of pages using MathML reside, it would simplify testing process a lot. Bruce Miller wrote: > However, I think that your comments would be more > productive > --- assuming you're actually > trying to have a constructive discussion Productive in what sense? It clear that W3C will not change basic design principles of MathML no matter how constructive, consistent and relevant our comments are. W3C left no space for productivity and we are forced to seek for niches either in current web stanadrds (XML/CSS/ECMAScript/DOM) or take more radical approach and create something completely new like Juan wan't to do. Inspite the fact that Math WG is unlikely to change anything I reserve right to express my concerns regarding design of MathML. -- _______________________________________________ Surf the Web in a faster, safer and easier way: Download Opera 8 at http://www.opera.com Powered by OutblazeReceived on Wednesday, 12 April 2006 11:55:59 UTC

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