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Re: Math and MathML [forethought about rendering]

From: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2006 04:50:05 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <3154.217.124.69.242.1153137005.squirrel@webmail.canonicalscience.com>
To: <www-math@w3.org>

Patrick Ion said:
>
> Dear Juan,
>
>>>> I understand that Lie said "a markup language that could be
>>>> presented
>>>> using existing CSS properties."
>>
>> Lie did _not_ say, "a markup language that would be restricted to
>> using
>> existing CSS properties."
>>
> You have quoted Hakon Wium Lie in a particular way, and as saying
> that the development of markup languages often proceeds in ignorance of
> or with cavalier disregard for the problems of rendering the markup
> specified.   I can agree that may well be true.

First the (June) Lie’s quote

<blockquote>
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>

Next to say that I agree. MathML developers ignored CSS (it is obvious),
providing us a markup was CSS unfriendly, generating lot of headaches to
developers. The MathML WG, also failed to provide a content MathML +
CSS-Math instead a redundant, bloated, and very inefficient presentation
MathML markup remembering us the deprecated <font>, <b>, <center>, and
family of old HTML.

It appears clear that MathML folks were unable to see the capabilities for
CSS rendering, and were unable to provide to the community an adequate
extension to then available CSS rules (whereas using good ones). At
contrary, the group reinvented the wheel, and did in MathML 1 and did
again in MathML 2, when CSS was already popular enough.

The same situation holds today, we saw the last week several MathML folks
claiming how CSS _cannot_ (they were sure) render MathML and Carlisle
providing an explicit markup believing was too difficult for CSS when that
had been solved time ago as can see seen in the links I provided at the
beginning of the discusion.

The same about Carlisle comments on limitations of CSS rendering to low
quality simple math. Yes, its approach works with \frac{b}{2} but already
fails with \frac{b^2}{2} but then he is generalizing the failuire of its
approach to the supposed limitations of CSS.

Of course CSS is limited (presentation MathML is also) but the group would
stop from spreading myths about like only p-MathML is good or render good.

>
> However, MathML was not specified by a group that was not well
> familiar with the problems of rendering markup: there were several from
> TeX and LaTeX backgrounds, those from Mathematica who had set up
> its rendered interface, people from the Maple and Scratchpad worlds who
> also knew well what problems might be with rendering, those who made
> equation editors for the most wide-spread word-processing program and
> high-end tools for math document creation, someone familiar with the
> journal
> production stream at the world's largest STM publisher, and generally
> people
> who had seen a lot of different math publications, and more such
> examples.

The group was familiar with rendering but not with rendering on browsers
via CSS, not with other stuff is cause that MathML is not popular in
despite of many publicity efforts.

> It is calumnious to suggest that the WG did not think of problems of
> rendering.

The WG did but did not in a correct way as time and experience are
proving. Once some minor problems with CSS implementation was solved and
some extension (e.g. CSS3 Math module) on the table, I would wonder if
presentational MathML is of generalized interst anymore. We saw how
presentational HTML markup has been deprecated in more recent XHTML specs,
some people is encouraging (18 March) the substitution of SVG
(presentational markup) by CSS

[http://dbaron.org/css/css-vg/]

XSL-FO has been strongly rejected for the web (of course, you can use of
off-line).
Only MathML would remain isolated from the rest, with the group
encouraging and endorsing the spread of presenational markup omn the web,
do you know.

Some of us prefer follow more standard design with content and structural
markup for mathematics and rendering via stylesheet: CSS.

> then he is welcome to impute a mistake to the Math WG, which
> presumably made several.  However, I think that
> the CSS of the time was not able to arrange good
> rendering of what is commonly asked for in math
> documents (e.g., as much control as can be arranged
> with simple TeX).

Therefore a CSS enhacement fitting in the rest of CSS would be provided
_then_ instead an alternative approach with many redundant and/or wrong
features obligating to deprecate many stuff in sucessive version of
MathML. We would wait that the whole presentational markup was deprecated
in a next MathML version, 4? 5?

>
> Patrick


Juan R.

Center for CANONICAL| SCIENCE)
Received on Monday, 17 July 2006 11:50:31 GMT

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