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Re: [Moderator Action] Active lobbying: Math

From: Ivan Herman <ivan@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2015 09:15:14 +0200
Cc: W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>
Message-Id: <6426F575-ABDB-4AD0-8E79-FF987863F4A3@w3.org>
To: Paul Topping <pault@dessci.com>

> On 21 Aug 2015, at 20:13 , Paul Topping <pault@dessci.com> wrote:
> This is a topic I've thought a lot about so I will throw my two cents in.
> Whenever I've talked to browser folks about supporting MathML, which is not often, the consistent answer I get back is that they perceive very little call for it. My first reaction is to wonder who they ask or who they listen to. It seems unlikely that browser makers listen to end-users. In general, they do not request support for web standards. I suspect who they are listening to are web developers. There are a huge number of people involved in making websites and a large, but smaller, group involved in developing web standards and advocating for them.
> A good example of this is Microsoft's page where people get to vote for features they'd like to see in Internet Explorer and now Edge. I used all my votes for MathML but I am sure it didn't get many votes compared to other features.
> So, the problem as I see it is that very few web developers are asking for MathML support. Before MathJax, they all just used equation images. After MathJax, the problem is largely solved, at least from their perspective. Perhaps more importantly, the number of web developers who deal with math in their pages is a miniscule fraction.
> So who do we have to rally to get MathML implemented? I don't think talking to web developers will work. Instead, I would say we have to rally education. This is where the need for accessibility is strongest. Also, no software company wants to be seen as not supporting education and accessibility. The problem with this is that educators do not know about MathML for the most part. We would have to convince them to trust us on the technology question. On the other hand, there are some influential (I'm guessing) organizations that know about MathML: Educational Testing Service (ETS), to name one.
> If browser makers actually listened to us and implemented MathML natively in browsers, we might experience a new problem. There will undoubtedly be differences in the quality of their implementation. Even if quality isn't a problem, separate implementations will undoubtedly make different rendering choices. The MathML spec allows this. MathJax, on the other hand, provides consistent cross-browser MathML rendering. We must be careful what we wish for.

That is, actually, an interesting issue. Speaking as a (former) mathematician, I know that mathematicians may be extremely picky on the way their equation look. Ie, I do not know how much variation they would tolerate and, for that matter, how precise the presentation markup of MathML defines the outlook (SVG is very precise, almost at pixel level, for example).


> Paul Topping
> Design Science, Inc.
> www.dessci.com

Ivan Herman, W3C
Digital Publishing Activity Lead
Home: http://www.w3.org/People/Ivan/
mobile: +31-641044153
ORCID ID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0782-2704

Received on Saturday, 22 August 2015 07:15:24 UTC

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