W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-math@w3.org > February 2013

Re: Help get math turned back on in Chrome

From: Terry Wallwork <terrywallwork@netscape.net>
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2013 00:01:03 +0000
Message-ID: <51201DBF.20202@netscape.net>
To: www-math@w3.org, "paul@hoplahup.net >> Paul Libbrecht" <paul@hoplahup.net>
HI Paul,

First off let me say MathJax is a very nice piece of software.  The 
people who made it put a lot of time into making it almost a complete 
drop in replacement for native MathML support for Chrome, and you really 
couldn't make it any easy to install and get up and running with.

The limitations that I noticed are small but still they require you to 
do some none standard things.

The first and most obvious one is that when using MathJax in its CDN 
mode where you are basically contacting an online content delivery 
server to download the MathJax Javascript code to use it.  it's very 
quick but it requires you be connected to the net to use this method to 
get MathML support.  If you want to read a html page offline (ie in 
ebook type form).  This could be a problem.

The second problem (which sort of solves the first limitation but 
introduces another), is that you can download the MathJax code for local 
use (which means you don't need to be connected online).  The problem 
here is if I want to use MathJax in a document for say an ebook to 
provide decent MathML support.  That automatically adds about 
16megabytes in file size to any project that uses MathJax.  As this is 
the current site of the latest version of the MathJax Full version.  
16megabytes now a days is not a lot to store, but if you had to ship it 
with every ebook you made that needed MathMl that adds up.

The third and probably most serious problem is the fact that you cant 
use the standard methods of css styling to alter the style of MathML 
output that is produced by MathJax;  At least not in the standard MathML 

For example let say that I want to alter the font size and type of font 
used in MathML screen display; Using the native MathML way. All I would 
have to do is add css entries to a css style sheet file:

math {
     font-size: 10pt;
     font-family: "Liberation Mono";

This would be enough with Native MathML to have it change the font used 
to Liberation Mono with a font size of 10points.

Unfortunately MathJax doesn't take notice of the restyling of the math 
element so it carries on using its default font sizes and font type.

Now I am sure that it is not difficult to configure MathJax to use what 
ever style and size of font you want.  But the point is to get it to do 
it you can't use standard MathML css style sheets as you can with native 

Those are the issue I noticed within 5 minutes of installing and using 
it.  And I want only the simplest functionality.  Some one with more 
demanding MathML needs may well find a lot more things that do not work 
in a standard way.

Again I want to make it clear I am not knocking MathJax it's very 
impressive that they were able to make a piece of software do such a 
good job of getting around native MathML implementations;  It makes me 
think that maybe the Native MathML people should have the same 
dedication to MathML that the MathJax people obviously do  But it comes 
at the price of some non-standard configuration methods, possible 
requirement of having to be online, or having to put up with increased 
ebook file sizes.  Plus if there are any bugs found in the version of 
MathJax updating would have to be carried out for every document that 
uses a local version.  Where as the Native MathML support would just 
require an browser update and every document that uses MathML would benefit.

Sorry for the rambling Paul,  I just wanted to make clear why I think 
MathJax is a possible limitation even though its a very impressive piece 
of software.  MathML to be fully useful has to be native to the browser, 
I can't really see a way around it.

Given the competition between Chrome people and Firefox people I am 
amazed that the Firefox people aren't using this MathMl situation 
against Chrome.  It's a big bragging point for the Foxers.

Also Paul I posted another MathML "bug" report to the issue tracking 
page, Chromium just for good measure :)

Here's the link:


I would have posted on your original link but it seems it won't let me.

Terry Wallwork
Received on Sunday, 17 February 2013 00:01:34 UTC

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