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Future of MathML? No future?

From: <juanrgonzaleza@canonicalscience.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2006 01:12:08 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <3201.217.124.88.190.1162977128.squirrel@webmail.canonicalscience.com>
To: <www-math@w3.org>


I found the article on empty element syntax
[http://www.hixie.ch/advocacy/xhtml]:

<blockquote>

The Myth of "HTML-compatible XHTML 1.0 documents"
-------------------------------------------------

RFC 2854 spec refers to "a profile of use of XHTML which is compatible
with HTML 4.01". There is no such thing. Documents that follow the
guidelines in appendix C are not valid HTML 4.01 documents. They just
happen to be close enough that tag soup parsers are able to handle
them just like most of the other pages on the Web.

The simplest examples of this are:

 * The "/>" empty tag syntax actually has totally different meaning in
   HTML4. (It's the SHORTTAG minimisation feature known as NET, if I
   recall the name correctly.) Specifically, the XHTML

     <p> Hello <br /> World </p>

   ...is, if interpreted as HTML4, exactly equivalent to:

     <p> Hello <br>&gt; World </p>

   ...and should really be rendered as:

     Hello
     > World

</blockquote>

Also found the forum article about Microsoft/W3C/WhatWG war
[http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum21/8102.htm]

<blockquote>

One thing which unites the attendees of the workshop is their support of
standards, but the workshop ended with a division into three clear camps,
each with their own view of the future of web applications.

   1. The view of the w3c: the development of a set of new, open
standards, including XHTML 2, XForms, SVG, SMIL. Backwards
compatibility is sacrificed for a consistent set of technologies
related to XML

   2. The view of microsoft: the replacement of existing open standards
such as HTML with their own proprietary platform based on XAML (a
microsoft XML variant) and Avalon (procedural programming model), and
development moving away from the browser into integrated applications.

   3. The view of Opera Software and the Mozilla Foundation: build on the
existing framework of HTML, CSS, the DOM, ECMAscript to further inhance
web applications with the addition of extensions, and at the same time
preserve backwards-compatibility with existing browser technologies, in
particular the dominant browser, microsoft's Internet Explorer 6. The
browser will remain and even increase it's presence as the primary
delivery route for web applications

</blockquote>

XAML is XML, by forcing <br> syntax instead <br/> or <br /> one obtains
two benefits (anyone can correct me if wrong):

A. Full backward compatibility with strict HTML 4.01

B. Full forward incompatibility with Microsoft 2007 AVALON.

Whereas i am not interested in this war not in HTML5, i continue
interested in the future of p-MathML. Could members from current MathML WG
explain their position regarding future MathML here?

It is clear (please correct me if wrong) for me that Mozilla and WhatWG
are not interested in providing XML islands  la IE into next HTML 5
(probably because of point B above).

It is clear for me, from this loooong thread, (please correct me if wrong)
that Mozilla folks will implement a new (not the official W3C spec)
language for mathematics no matter how many people from this W3C WG plea
for the contrary.


Future?

Ok folks, backward compatibility with MathML 2 with minor modifications
(extensions) or a NEW MathML 3 language can be really improved in flaws
over previous versions? What is your plan?

I know of advantages of backward compatibility in terms of already
developed MathML software, but also i see that MathML is mainly ignored on
the web because do not fit real life needs.

This general failure of MathML to conquer the web happened during many
many years, when MathML was the ONLY full markup for the web could be used
in text/html in MSIE+plugin and Mozilla and still was ignored.

The myth that MathML is ready to spread over the web once broad browser
support is not more credible: Mozilla and MSIE may be more than 85% of
clients (at canonicalscience site statistics are more than a 93%) and
still usage of MathML is less than 5%.

What do you think of next two years?

At the one hand, we will see Mozilla 'MathML' initiative for HTML5
(probably could be implemented in FireFox before HTML5 was official
recommendation).

**Current MathML 2 software will not work for HTML5**.

At the other hand, ECMA OMML initiative will be approved in brief
(probably will become ISO standard also) and at least one implementation
will be ready next year with MS Office.

**Current MathML 2 software will not work for OMML**.

Of course you can translate OMML/MathML using a XSLT but you can also
translate any other stuff, e.g. LaTeX to MathML, OMML to Mathematica,
French to Spanish, etc. The important is that current tools will not work
in native way, somewhat as i do not speak German.

That is, the two major approaches from today leading browsers are designed
to be not backward compatible with MathML 2. Therefore, my conclusions
are:

I. Either MathML 3 is done backward compatible MathML 2 but with minor
improvements. MathML 3 will be a fiasco somewhat as XHTML 2 has been. No
browser will implement it. People will migrate to other languages.

II. Or MathML 3 is something _new_ fulfilling users real needs:

(a) powerful enough for all users [i.e. no need for in-house modifications].

(b) can be implemented in browsers with minor effort [current MathML
reinvent the wheel obligating to duplication of browser functionality]. If
language can be implemented in current DOM+XML+CSS+CSS-Math then i see no
reason for broad support. But if you need implementation of a special
parsing more special WS more special CSS more special DOM more... you
finalize with current status of MathML browser, only Mozilla implements a
_subset_ of presentation markup (i think that content MathML will be never
implemented in Mozilla, please correct me if wrong), no other browser
implement MathML (plugins are _not_ implementations).

This breaks backward compatibility, but backward compatibility is already
broken with both Mozilla and Microsoft initiatives.

What do you think? Are there future for p-MathML?


P.S: I know that during 'centuries' the W3C MathML WG did a not good work
(one can include here initial fiasco of HTML3 math was so rudely critized
because being technically very flawed) i also known that the WG ignored
pleas and solid criticism to the MathML (both presentation and content
markup).

In the past, the WG could ignore users and independent specialists because
of the primacy of the W3C on the web but folks that gold epoque passed,
welcome to real life and competition, therefore it is time for you to
move...
Received on Wednesday, 8 November 2006 09:12:27 GMT

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