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Re: Help get math turned back on in Chrome

From: Terry Wallwork <terrywallwork@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2013 21:39:54 +0000
Message-ID: <51229FAA.2040400@gmail.com>
To: www-math@w3.org
On 17/02/13 00:40, Paul Topping wrote:
> Terry,
> You are obviously correct here in what you say about MathML and 
> MathJax but I can add a little to it.
> You mentioned the problems of including MathJax in an ebook file. It 
> is possible to minimize MathJax by discarding things that are not 
> needed within such a restricted context. The details are written up 
> somewhere in the MathJax docs and I believe they trim it down to 1.5 MB.
> MathML support should really be in the ebook reader, rather than 
> included in each ebook that contains math. In fact, the EPUB3 standard 
> requires that ebook readers support MathML. Most ebook readers are 
> built on top of WebKit. WebKit includes MathML support if the right 
> configuration is chosen but its MathML support is not very complete 
> and not as good as Firefox's.
> (BTW, the MathML support in WebKit is what Chrome has turned off. So 
> even if it hadn't been turned off, it leaves a lot to be desired. Our 
> pitch to Google and/or Apple should not be just to turn it back on but 
> to fund the development needed to complete the implementation.)
> An ebook reader can use MathJax to implement its EPUB3 support. As a 
> proof-of-concept, the MathJax people did this in the Readium ebook 
> reader that IDPF maintains as a prototype for others to build on. I 
> believe there are a couple of commercial ebook readers that have also 
> used MathJax in this way. Such an ebook reader will support MathML 
> without needing to include any JavaScript in each ebook. And, reading 
> an ebook using such a reader won't require an internet connection. 
> Finally, since MathJax code is part of the reader, performance should 
> be good. It is helped by the fact that an ebook page will not have as 
> many equations on it as a paper done as a single web page so the 
> difference between MathJax performance and a native MathML 
> implementation in an HTML engine should not be as noticable.
> All that said, we should all push Apple, Google, and Microsoft to 
> support MathML natively in their browsers.
> Paul Topping
> *From:*Terry Wallwork [mailto:terrywallwork@netscape.net]
> *Sent:* Saturday, February 16, 2013 4:01 PM
> *To:* www-math@w3.org; paul@hoplahup.net >> Paul Libbrecht
> *Subject:* Re: Help get math turned back on in Chrome
> 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 way.
> 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 MathML.
> 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:
> http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=176698
> I would have posted on your original link but it seems it won't let me.
> Terry Wallwork

Hello Paul & Frédéric,

     Thank you for both of your details responses to my post.


Thank you for making me aware of the ability of MathJax to be configured 
to use much less file space.  That may very well come in handy if the 
current Chrome situation is not resolved.

I also didn't know that epub3 allows for external MathML implementations 
using libraries such as MathJax.  That makes me more confident in using 
it, should I have no other choice.

The content I write isn't specifically epub format, it's based on html5, 
css3 and Javascript and is designed to be used on a browser, but with 
some Javascript hopefully I will be able to make it work on epub type 
devices (kindles, ipads, and if they finally pull their fingers out and 
make a good one, full color eink devices).

To your point about we should be not only pushing for Ms, Apple and 
Mozilla to keep MathML support but also improve it, I totally agree.


Thank you for the link to the specific information about shrinking 
MathJax file space foot print.

On your second point about my reasons for switching browsers from 
Firefox to Chrome; My main reason really wasn't all the things Chrome 
could do better, because for the most part Chrome has a tiny advantage 
with speed when it comes to it's JavaScript engine;  In most other 
respects (in my opinion) for features such as MathML and Extensions 
Firefox has a rather large Lead.

The thing that pretty much forced me to switch to Chrome, was the fact 
that Firefox (on Linux) does not yet support the video codecs that are 
most popular, but Chrome does.  My understanding on the politics of the 
Firefox video codes issues is sketchy at best, but I was told that 
Google promised to switch to fully open codecs and then decided not to 
leaving Firefox at a disadvantage.  So without Flash in Firefox (which 
is no longer being developed for Linux Firefox) and it not having the 
most popularly supported video codecs, it leaves Firefox in a bit of a 
pickle.  Firefox will not play a lot of things in terms of video.  This 
may change as I know there is talk of Firefox supporting the same 
codecs.  I would personally like to see Flash just die, but not having 
the correct video codecs in Firefox makes things untenable.  I think 
that if Firefox does get the same codec support I may switch back to 
Firefox, as there are extensions for it that you cannot get officially 
from the Chrome store as they are prohibited.

As to your last point about people not caring about MathML support, for 
a lot of people I am sure that is true, probably most people. But I at 
least suspect there is a very large academic part of the population that 
really does need features such as MathML.  I think the problems here is 
that their voices aren't heard because academic people are very reserved 
and just keep quiet and don't make a fuss when annoying things happen 
they just look for solutions to fix their problems, and if worst comes 
to works they can always use Latex (shudder :) ).  It would be nice if 
they lost their characteristic reserve and self control and started to 
become a nuisance to Ms, Apple, and Mozilla.  I think it would help 
because that would be a lot of very smart people making themselves known.

Paul & Frédéric & The Whole List: Which makes me wonder.  I am just a 
single individual, I am not on any technical committees, I don't have 
any special position or powers.  I just find MathML useful.  So are 
Apple, Ms, and Mozilla members of any bodies relating to MathML that 
individuals can contact to make noise at, directly?  It's all well and 
good filing snarky bug reports as an individual to Ms, Apple and 
Mozilla's issue tracking systems, individually.  But it would be easier 
to interact with the three of them (and make complaints more visible to 
all 3 at the same time) if they had a common point of contact.  Like a 
standards body related to MathML topics that they are all members of. I 
am assuming such a thing exists, but I don't know if it does.

Terry Wallwork
Received on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:03:42 UTC

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