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Re: SVG is not MathML

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 04:11:14 -0400
Message-ID: <489173A2.2020502@w3.org>
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Hi, Boris-

Boris Zbarsky wrote (on 7/31/08 2:54 AM):
> Doug Schepers wrote:
>> In several messages, some people are quick to equate MathML with the 
>> proposal for SVG-in-HTML.
> It seems to me that all Henri was saying is that Firefox has an existing 
> "view XML serialization of this MathML DOM fragment" feature, and that 
> it would presumably not be difficult to remove the "MathML" qualifier, 
> thus producing a general "view XML serialization of this DOM fragment" 
> feature.  It's not quite as simple as I infer he believes it to be, 
> because there are some UI issues in terms of denoting the relevant DOM 
> fragment, but in broad strokes I think that such a feature is eminently 
> implementable, at least in Firefox.
> This was relevant insofar as certain parties had expressed interest in 
> such a feature in browsers as part of the SVG-in-HTML discussion.  But 
> at no point was there an implication that MathML and SVG are in any way 
> equivalent, other than in the obvious way: to work in a browser, both 
> have a DOM that can then be serialized as XML.
>> This comparison seems to be made for purely rhetorical goals, not for 
>> technical reasons.
> I didn't see a comparison.  

Yeah, I wasn't saying that Henri was making a direct inextricable 
comparison in this particular... it was just the latest example of a 
more general trend of conflating the issues.  For example, Hixie has 
discussed SVG-in-HTML in terms of MathML, as if they were more closely 
related than I believe them to be:


There are certain similarities, especially if the general case is to be 
considered, but as far as I am aware, neither Hixie nor Henri (among 
others) want to seriously consider a generic XML-in-HTML mechanism.  I 
believe I've read statements directly to the contrary.  So, since the 
similarities pretty much stop at the "it's XML" level, I just think we 
should be very clear that they should either be considered at the 
generic syntax level (where all or most XML can be accommodated), or 
considered separately (that is, with their unique constraints and features).

While I'm on the subject, there's another non-technical difference 
between SVG and MathML that does affect what technical decision needs to 
be made: usage and deployment patterns.  SVG and MathML have very 
different market "footprints", with different users, authoring tools and 
toolchains, and site demographics (though there would definitely be an 
interesting use for both SVG and MathML on math-centric sites).  So, any 
decision on how to include SVG in HTML has to consider the existing 

Let me make it clear that I'm not at all dismissing the MathML case... 
I'll be very happy that MathML can finally be used on the Web, if the 
current proposal works.

-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, WebApps, SVG, and CDF
Received on Thursday, 31 July 2008 08:11:49 UTC

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