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

From: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 06:59:48 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <3082.217.124.88.164.1152885588.squirrel@webmail.canonicalscience.com>
To: <www-math@w3.org>

Patrick Ion said:
>
> Dear Juan,
>
> I certainly don't quarrel either with the quotation from Hutchinson of
> <blockquote>
> MathML has a number of weaknesses.
> </blockquote>
> or, in fact, with the assertion.  Nor is there a problem for me with his
> <blockquote>
> My guess is that it won’t. But with luck it will gradually become more
> widespread.
> </blockquote>
> That's his prognosis and a benevolent wish.

But apparently Hutchinson based his guess in three main points: i) Server
statistics over last 5 years with its TtH and TtM, ii) Technical
(annoyances) issues of MathML, iii) History of the mathematical markup.

Whereas similar claims from MathML folks (waiting magical spread of MathML
on the Internet) appear to be based in faith.

> I could quibble over how
> big a niche might be, but I am not clear how MathML could
> 'take over web mathematics publishing' at the present stage of
> web technology.  I'm not sure CSS has correspondingly taken
> over web page styling, though it's a lot wider in scope than
> MathML as a markup.

Whereas one can see an increasing interest in CSS, including printing of
books, there is not such one increasing in MathML. At contrary, apparently
nobody want print using MathML and there is a return to TeX bassed systems
(MathML to TeX conversors).

E.g. last MSIE adds a better support for CSS, whereas continues ignoring
MathML native support.

> Where I questioned the attribution to Hutchinson was for
> the phrasing
>
>> we abandon the MathML approach, encourage to all us users,
>> collaborators, and visitors to abandon MathML,
>
> but I now see that perhaps you intended to convey in
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0028.html
> not that sense of attribution to IH, but that you wished to correct your
> typo by
> us users ==> our users

Now I understand the confusion. I thought that was clear that I was using
<blockquote> for Hutchinson’s words.

> So the syntax form of your message was, in outline,
>
> Typos ...
>  > A
> may read
> B
> with
> C
> instead
>  >D
>
> and might have been in another notation
>
> Typos:
> A ==> B
> D ==> C
>
> This perhaps illustrates the difficulties of markup without
> specifications.

Maybe we would use content MathML 2.0 and prefix notation for efficient
communication!

> Are you really proposing to explore examples such as
> you have in
>
>> For instance, the recently
>> proposed at the HTML5 mailing list
>> <frac>a<den>2</frac>
>> also works with CSS, even if is *not* valid xml. Ok?

No, it was an example of how the same CSS techniques can be reused in
HTML-XML-SGML (note that CSS-like techniques could be implemented in a
DSSSL engine thanks to similarity with XSL-FO).

The point was that CSS techniques are more versatile than p-MathML.

> Obviously one can work with other markup than valid XML.
> It just does not seem to me a very good idea in this
> context today.  Any revision to a MathML spec will have to be
> consonant with other prevalent W3C specs, I believe, as the
> previous versions were at their times.

Agree with requirement on consonancy with other specs but I cannot agree
with the history.

It would be not the first time is claimed that the MathML WG reinvented
the wheel whereas ignored other specs. Hakon Wium Lie, from w3c CSS WG,
wrote last month,

<blockquote>
Historically, it's a common mistake to develop markup systems without
giving much thought to presentation. [...] Given that CSS existed when
MathML was created, I think the developers made a mistake by not creating
a markup language that could be presented using existing CSS properties.
</blockquote>

> All the best,
>
> 	Patrick


Juan R.

Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)
Received on Friday, 14 July 2006 14:19:37 GMT

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