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

RE: Math on the web without MathML (CSS 2.1 rendering for HTML and XML)

From: Neil Soiffer <neils@dessci.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 15:38:02 -0700
Message-ID: <D1EFB337111B674B8F1BE155B01C6DD601063C58@franklin.corp.dessci>
To: <www-math@w3.org>


-----Original Message-----
From: www-math-request@w3.org [mailto:www-math-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com
Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:56 AM
To: www-math@w3.org
Subject: Re: Math on the web without MathML (CSS 2.1 rendering for HTML
and XML)

<juan quote>
Annoyances that remain

Besides the need for readers to download plugins or fonts, and their
inability to print, some rendering problems remain in MathML. Although
minor, they are annoyances; some are built into the standard.

- multiple-character identifiers are rendered roman
- it is impossible to label aligned equations at the page edge
- often large braces or integrals are too big
- fonts are not as well chosen as TeX, e.g. italic v looks like

Therefore my original quote was accurate when read the source: some
rendering problems remain in MathML...
</juan quote>

The difference is that Prof. Hutchinson adds the remark that some of
these are part of the standard, and some are not.  I hope that it is
because you are not a native English speaker, and not because of
ignorance or willful disregard of what is written, you missed that
point. I also note that you choose to ignore his comment that the
rendering problems are minor.

All renderers have problems, as do all browsers, all CSS
implementations, etc.  That doesn't mean the standards on which they are
based are necessarily flawed, nor does it mean that problems with the
current standard mean the standard is bad.  There is no argument from
anyone on this list that MathML can be improved, nor do I think you will
get an argument from anyone in the CSS WG that CSS can be improved.
However, you stand pretty much alone in failing to recognize that MathML
has a number of strong points and that CSS, as currently defined, is not
well-suited to rendering math.

<juan quote>
Nobody said that a CSS approach does not allow the use of fragments.
That was said here is that CSS lets other techniques also. Those novel
techniques (visit XML-MAIDEN project for some details) let us draw
arbitrarily large curved and squared brackets _without_ requiring
special fonts at the client side.
</juan quote>

You often cite XML Maiden as an example of what can be done.  However,
it's rendering (which only works in Opera), would not be considered
acceptable by most people who author math.  Because it doesn't tag
variables, numbers, or operators, it doesn't render variables in italics
when appropriate, nor can it use appropriate spacing between operators.
Furthermore, despite your assertion that CSS (and XML-Maiden?) can draw
large curved "brackets", XML Maiden only draws vertical or horizontal
lines, so square roots look poor, parens are drawn as brackets,
under/over braces are drawn like rotated brackets, integrals don't
stretch, etc (at least based upon the examples linked from
http://www.geocities.com/csssite/index.xml.  These are more than minor
problems to most people.  This isn't meant as a criticism of the XML
Maiden's author's work -- he has run into the same limitations with CSS
that David Carlisle ran into when trying to use CSS as a fallback for
browsers that don't render MathML.

Despite your claims that CSS can do a good job of rendering math, you've
yet show an example that it can.  In the US, there is a saying, "put up
or shut up".  David Carlisle provided a simple example that he feels can
not be rendered well in CSS.  Please show that you know what you are
taking about by showing how to do this in CSS so that we too can
understand how it is done.  If you can't, then I'll joining the rising
chorus on this list asking you use the list for only positive
contributions and save your repetitious complaints for other forums such
as your canonical science web site.

Neil Soiffer
Senior Scientist
Design Science, Inc.
~ Makers of Equation Editor, MathType, MathPlayer and MathFlow ~
Received on Thursday, 13 July 2006 22:38:13 GMT

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