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

Re: Profiling and certificates for MathML. Avoiding imitators

From: White Lynx <whitelynx@operamail.com>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 21:53:41 +0400
To: www-math@w3.org
Message-Id: <20061220175341.4CF942472E@ws5-3.us4.outblaze.com>

> Profiling]
> Currently, the available group of MathML tools generates a broad spectrum 
> of heterogeneus outputs. You can match tools from the strictly
> 'presentational' output part of the spectrum (often wrong from a
> structural or accessibility view) to high-quality parallel markup.
> I wait that proposal for a profile attribute can be attached to a island
> of MathML code was finally included in MathML 3. This profiling would let
> us, for instance, the automatic embedding of docs fragments from different
> authors into a single composed doc. Since profiling helps to identify
> weakness on characteristic outputs for each tool.

I agree that we need some mechanism that specifies version of MathML and profile. Especially when DTD is omitted it is difficult to determine what version of markup is used. SVG provides attributes version and baseProfile http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG11/struct.html#SVGElement 
It makes sense to have something similar in MathML, but we don't have well defined profiles yet, in case of MathML 2.0 there is one MathML DTD that allows to mix everything. Also putting two extra attributes on every math element is probably redundant, maybe it is better to specify it once on document level?

> Invisible
> times continues being represented by justaposition. 

Well, if markup is not human processable and tools have to infer extra information out of nowhere, then there is no way to ensure that this information is correct. The solution is to add human processable input syntax that is isomorphic to MathML and map is defined explicitly and is intuitive enough to ensure that authors understand what output their input will produce (I have yet to see such input syntax) or make MathML itself human processable (well if it would be at least as simple as ISO-12083 I would type it manually, but still I doubt that average LaTeX user would agree to author ISO-12083 like markup manually and making XML based math markup less verbose then ISO-12083 was, effectively means switching to non-XML syntax, which is not exactly what we need).

> Certificates]
> However, profiling cannot work for invalid MathML or seudo-MathML. Therein
> we need some kind of certification procedure that can guarantize authors
> that tools they are using are generating real MathML.

Technically it is unclear for me who should certify who and how. Tools will be improved if there is requirement for better tools coming from users and content publishers and if output does not require authoring tools to provide more information then they can extract from input.

> We have a bunch of experience with HTML and the creepy code is being
> spreaded over the web. The situation with MathML arising from initiatives
> as WhatWG HTML5 could be a true nightmare due to the intrinsic difficulty,
> variability, and markup/text ratio for mathematical markup. The MathML W3C
> would take actions responsible for the web well-working.

I agree, it could be nighmare. What makes situation worse is complexity of markup and the fact that one might get different formulae in different browsers while relying on error recovery.

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Received on Wednesday, 20 December 2006 17:54:24 UTC

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