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: Sun, 16 Jul 2006 13:57:12 -0700
Message-ID: <D1EFB337111B674B8F1BE155B01C6DD60DB7A1@franklin.corp.dessci>
To: "Public MathML mailing list" <www-math@w3.org>

> From: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com> 
> Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2006 08:03:21 -0700 (PDT)
> Message-ID: <3091.> 
> To: <www-math@w3.org> 


Your email has so many misstatements, falsehoods, and quotes taken out of context, it is hard to know how to reply, especially since you continue to repeat them and disregard, misstate, or misunderstand what people have said to you.  Here's one last try, although I doubt facts will make a difference to you...

In canonical science today, I see that CSS renders equals or even better
than MathML for examples I tried. For instance, the simple fraction
renders nice in CSS and distort in MathML.
Curiously I offered examples of math rendered with MathML and with CSS and
most of people choosed the visual CSS rendering. I will provide more and
more examples.
Assuming you are referring to the examples in [1], David Carlisle pointed out in [2] that you didn't install the fonts and ignored the warning that the fonts weren't installed.  Hardly an honest comparison!   Your refusal to admit that this is even a problem in your reply [3] is an example of how poorly you understand math notation.

Moreover, most of people chose CSS because prefer aditional advantages of
CSS: not requirement for special tools, not special DTDs, not special
MIMES, not extensions, not special browers, no special fonts, no special
plugins, no special DOM, no special style markup, no redundancies...
If you are saying most people choose CSS over MathML for rendering math, you are starting with a hypothesis that you have not backed with data.  Robert Miner[4] gave a long list of users of MathML that you either disparage without providing meaningful data or by quoting people out of context.  He pointed out that usage of MathML in large-scale publishing workflows have increased 100% per year for the last 3 or 4 years.  Even when looking at the more restricted browser market, MathML can be used in Firefox and IE, which according to [5] accounts for over 98% of web users.  In the last 12 months, there have been over a quarter of a million downloads of MathPlayer, and this doesn't include users who obtained MathPlayer via licensing deals such as the MSN deal with Design Science [6].  These are hard numbers that indicate MathML is not only alive, but is thriving.

And do not forget the limitations on accesibility, wrong structural
markup, and other limitations of MathML + tools.

MathML is used in almost every major math accessibility project these days.  [7] gives a list of some of them.  Look at the conference proceedings for ASSETS and ICCHP for more projects.  Your sweeping claims with respect to inaccessibility of MathML are without basis in fact.

> 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.
It is nice to see your claim on spliting spec from implementations whereas
being unable to do the same CSS work. In short, all of above is false or
I stand by what I wrote.  XML Maiden relies upon CSS 2.1 for most math, and only Opera implements CSS 2.1 well enough to support the CSS styling used by XML Maiden.  Hence, as I stated "based on examples linked ...", the rendering draws only vertical or horizontal lines. Unlike you,  whitelynx/George rose to the challenge and has since shown a way to use the *proposed* border-radius CSS3 property[8] to create tall parens.  However, as Partick Ion showed [9], this trick is currently limited to Firefox.  Until CSS actually adds properties to render math well (and the browsers actually add the support), it really isn't a viable option.

Instead claiming that people will like, dislike. I prefer offer to people
alternative approach not using MathML. And people will chose the option
they prefer.
canonical science is your website, so you can do as you please.  You clearly feel strongly about using CSS to render math.  Rather than bashing MathML, your time and everyone else's time would be more effectively used if you spent your efforts working towards improving the CSS implementations in browsers you care about.  Indeed, maybe you would have time to get around to showing the world how wonderful your solutions are by getting your promised website update [10] finished and being "the first official body" to use CSS to render math.

Neil Soiffer                     
Senior Scientist                 phone: 562-433-0685
Design Science, Inc.             http://www.dessci.com
"How Science Communicates"
MathType, WebEQ, MathPlayer, Equation Editor, TeXaide

[1] http://canonicalscience.blogspot.com/2006/07/rendering-mathematics-in-html-via-css.html
[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0003.html
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0007.html
[4] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0054.html
[5] http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
[6] http://www.dessci.com/en/company/press/releases/031216.htm
[7] http://www.w3.org/Math/Software/mathml_software_cat_accessibility.html
[8] http://geocities.com/chavchan/temp/matrix.xhtml
[9] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0056.html
[10] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-math/2006Jul/0061
Received on Sunday, 16 July 2006 20:57:19 UTC

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