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RE: Exploring new vocabularies for HTML

From: Robert Miner <robertm@dessci.com>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2008 11:19:35 -0700
Message-ID: <D1EFB337111B674B8F1BE155B01C6DD602FEA243@franklin.corp.dessci>
To: "Ian Hickson" <ian@hixie.ch>, "David Carlisle" <davidc@nag.co.uk>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>, <www-math@w3.org>


Ian,

> To put it bluntly, raw MathML is too verbose. I can't really see importing 
> even just Presentational MathML into HTML if we require authors to type 
> every last <mn>, <mi>, and <mo>. Anything we can do to make the language 
> more maintainable will go a long way towards arguing for MathML over the 
> alternatives.

Thanks for this clear statement.  From the discussion on the list, it seems as though you and James Graham and possibly Henri all share this view to some degree.  Do you know if this view is shared more widely amongst HTML WG members?  

As you have seen, the majority of math WG members take the opposite view on the cost/benefit analysis in comparing ease of hand authoring vs. the interoperability and backward compatibility concerns Bruce, David, Neil and others have detailed.  I think it was mostly people already in the MathML community that were arguing this position (as you would expect since they have the most to lose in terms of investment in implementation work) but I would be interested to know if some other HTML WG member also incline toward this view.

In any event, I'd like to explore more concretely what might be possible. For argument sake, suppose MathML 3 were to define an HTML serialization along these lines:

1) CDATA would be allowed in an mrow, and a simple, table driven parsing model were given defining which Unicode point should be tagged as mi, mn, mo, etc.

2) mi, mn, mo tags would remain valid in markup, and merely become option in situations covered.

3) situations such as fractions requiring a specific number of child elements would specify an algorithm for inserting merror elements to fill in for missing arguments or wrap extra arguments.

4) the schema is factored so that HTML5 could import just the 30 or so presentation elements and semantics

5) whatever other lesser syntactic accommodations like quotes around attributes, and so on, are worked out and allowed.

I think that according to you quoted statement above such a proposal would be something you and maybe other HTML WG members would support for math in HTML5.  Is that correct?

--Robert


Dr. Robert Miner
W3C Math Working Group co-chair
Vice President, Research and Development
 
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