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: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 01:14:55 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <3038.>
To: <www-math@w3.org>

Mark P. Line wrote:
>> Successful means winning, doing well, triumphant...
> Like Microsoft Windows, then. Okay. That corresponds fairly closely to my
> meaning of 'successful' here.

Except that Microsoft Windows does not work for those tasks better done
with several Unix, Linux, real-time OS...

Maybe you are now confounding "successful" with "popular" or "mainstream".

> I think MathML works, and I think it's successful in the areas it's useful
> for. That success is demonstrable in terms of market penetration, just
> like the success of Windows.

I (and others) think that MathML is not successful and is not working in
the way has been popularized. Enough examples on why MathML code is being
spreaded on the web is often poor than old alternatives was extensively
discussed at this list. No need for addressing your "market penetration"

>> Fortunately, not all people has so great views on MathML like you; just
>> some thougts from the SBML community:
> My views of MathML are not that favorable. If you look back at what I
> wrote originally, you'll see that I said that I use MathML because it *IS*
> the standard and that, if left to my own devices, I could have easily
> created a language that would suit my purposes better than MathML2 (but
> not necessarily the purposes of others at the same time -- there's the
> rub).

Again weak semi-defined arguments. What exactly would I understand by your
"it *IS* the standard"? I suspect that you mean theoretical advantages
from using all of us an unified language for the interchange of
information and posible benefits from existence of an unified collection
ot tools, but wait your confirmation.

Any case ISO-12083 *IS* an previous international standard (MathML is
technically a w3c recommendation not a standard because w3c is not a
standards body) and I do not see you promiting its usage, why? What are
your reasons?

> It's not surprising that people in the SBML community would say the same
> thing. Great minds think alike, after all.

Let us wait and see if the introduction of MathML into SBML was fortunate
or not :-) Do not forget that great minds can make mistakes too.

>> And MathML is so succesfull in the SBML community that last years was
>> launched a thread in the SBML site called "Complementary Alternative to
>> MathML Needed". I do not believe that mathematics done at the SBML
>> community was extensive or advanced still they are claiming for
>> alternatives.
> I think you need to look up "complementary" in your favorite English
> dictionary.


> I'm in fairly good company when I define success of a product (even a
> public, community-created product like a W3C REC) in terms of market
> penetration: how many sites are using it vs. how many sites are using an
> alternative.

Well, in that case MathML and OpenMath are not penetrating much. Yes there
is some usage of MathML off-line at the publishers side, but usage of
MathML online is minimal.

> Success of a product doesn't mean that I like it particularly well, that I
> don't think it could or should be improved, or that there are no
> conceivable alternatives that would better serve my purposes. My opinions
> about a product have absolutely nothing to do with objective measures of
> that product's success. It's those objective measures about MathML that I
> think you're in denial about.

The only problem with this piece is in your "objective measures".

> I thought Betamax was a better system than VHS, but the market wasn't able
> to support two competing systems for long. As it happens, the worse system
> became more successful.


>> I think that MathML specification is very far from being remarkable.
> So what?

People using (and satisfied with) MathML can continue using whereas
alternatives are proposed and developed for others. In fact this thread is
titled "Math on the web without MathML (CSS 2.1 rendering for HTML and

People enthusiastic with presentational MathML can continue using MathML,
IteX, plugins, and all the rest. Others can take a different way.

A thing irritating me is the only-way concept you (and others) are trying
to promote without real rationale for leaving alternatives.

How expressed many times here if MathML is so good and so popular and so
succesfull, nobody would become interested in alternatives, therefore you
would not worry about my writtings after all.

>>> What do you mean by "content" and "meaning" such that content MathML is
>>> about the one but not about the other? I don't think these words mean
>>> what you think they mean.
>> Then you already know the reply better than me.
> If I did, I wouldn't have asked. So your answer is that you don't know
> what difference there is between "content" and "meaning" with respect to
> content MatML. That's why I don't understand why you think content MathML
> is about "content" but not about "meaning". But never mind, you've already
> answered as best you can.

You see! You already knew better.

>> Wait, first you claim that MathML is sucesfull and apparently your basic
>> evidence is because MathML is included in SBML or something but now you
>> cannot encode those simple examples.
> "Or something"? Have I been unclear about what I think about MathML and

Well your "objective measurements" do not convince some people (I am not
the only one)

>> Time? Do not you have time enough for encoding examples 1), 2), or 3) in
>> content MathML; that sound rare.
>> Well, I can provide you a billing address if that is your only problem.
>> Could you encode above examples for this week please?
> I was being facetious.

My offer for billing you for the encoding continues :-)

> If you don't know how to encode your examples,

Well I think that I have some ideas about how do it, but am anxiously
waiting your reply.

> there are lots of people
> here who would be much better able to teach you than I.

Maybe but reply was addresed to you. You claims MathML is succesfull in
"market terms" and you are promoting it without solid technical basis. You
also find CSS rendering of no interest and even initially claimed that
rendering of math would be addressed in another part (even claimed that
math on the web posts would be submitted outside this list!). You also
claim that you are using MathML because is the "standard".

MathML is about communication (including rendering) and storing of
mathematics. If you prepare a document using c-MathML for above examples
(ups! you erased them from your reply) and I want receive the document and
proccess it with a MathML aware software, I would know _what_ you will
send me before I begin to write the code for the software, right?

After all one of advantages of using a "standard" is many people can write
and interchange code in a unified way, no?

How is possible that you can maintain that MathML is working and is
succesfull in function of "objective data" but cannot even encode
something so simple as (a+b) in content or parallel MathML.

Are your claims about success and working so political and marketing based
as youir thoughts about Windows or Beta or there is real stuff beyond your

I know claims from other people (including MathML folks); i agree with
some and disagree with others but you sound more as waporware to me.


It is time also for a MathML 3 spec, I have proposed some basic ideas for
the new spec (I do not know if will be accepted or rejected). You often
claim how good MathML would be if you had done! If I remember correctly
Patrick encouraged you to post here some ideas for MathML 3 discussion but
your messages continue lacking technical stuff in an alarming way.

The "experiment" about content MathML and the encoding of the examples was
addressed to Mark P. Line but will be followed by another technical
_suggestion_ for the MathML WG.

> If you have
> examples that cannot be encoded correctly in content MathML by anybody
> because the language is inadequate, then I'm certainly not the person you
> need to talk to.

I agree with you. I was waiting to know a bit more about your "objective

>> Also if you have time I would be glad to know what are the strong points
>> of MathML for you and for what you claim it is working (or in your words
>> "it is successful")
> "Working" is your word, not mine.

Again agree and reason I added "(or in your words ‘it is successful’)"

>> 2) You appears to unknow that rendering is a critical issue in
>> mathematics and that design of content MathML markup is related to how
>> sucesfull the rendering can be.
> I think that the careful and exhaustive distinction between notation and
> meaning is a fundamental necessity in all but the most trivial uses of
> mathematics. I disagree that content (meaning) markup of math must be
> related to rendering issues.

And again you fail to understand others are really saying. I already said
about problems of designing a content oriented markup without special
emphasis on rendering issues. Problems and other trouble were recognized
at the STM workshop on scientific languages, by Fateman in his criticism
of OpenMath... There are also lessons from the SGML world to be learned

Historically, it's a common mistake to develop markup systems without
giving much thought to presentation. For example, only when SGML was
done did one start efforts to create a style sheet language for it

>> It is not how you think that one can design a content markup for people
>> who is not interested in rendering issues and next one design a
>> presentational layer for rendering.
> How do you know? Have you ever tried to design a content markup scheme for
> math without regard for of rendering issues?

After many posts I can begin to see your point clearly now ;-)

> -- Mark
> Mark P. Line
> Polymathix
> San Antonio, TX

Juan R.

Received on Tuesday, 25 July 2006 08:15:13 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 21:27:38 UTC