Re: proposed ARIA role for math [DRAFT 1]

On Tue, 11 Mar 2008 06:49:42 +0100, Neil Soiffer <> wrote:

> Sorry for the dreadfully slow response -- travel is killing me.

No worries, and thanks for the information.

> FYI: TeX, LaTeX, etc.  TeX is basically a programming language, although
> most people don't think of it as such.  Much of TeX's functionality is  
> via
> using one of its many macro packages.  LaTeX is one such package.  Many
> journals implement their own macros for submission.  TeX's power is also
> what makes it difficult to import in general since you can add new
> functionality and pretty drastically change what TeX looks like, even at  
> the
> syntax level.
> For math, this tends not to be too hard a problem since people tend to  
> use
> the base set of macros along with a few added by LaTeX.  Some more  
> advanced
> math, such as tensors or matrices might have differing macro for them,  
> but
> at least for simple matrices, I think two macros are commonly used.
> The bottom line is that for most math, you don't care whether it is TeX  
> or
> the LaTeX extensions, or AMSTeX, or macro packages, they are similar  
> enough
> that a single processor can handle them.

But interoperability for all cases is desired, not just the common cases.

> And if someone doesn't use this
> base set, a processor would have trouble unless they implemented the TeX
> engine and read the macros, or built in knowledge about the functions for
> that package.
> I am somewhat ambivalent about labeling the expression.  It is easy to  
> tell
> the difference between TeX and MathML,

...and MathML content is inherently math, and hence, doesn't need  

> and most new math notations for input
> are similar to TeX.  The exceptions would be if someone used Maple or
> Mathematica or some other computation system's language.  They are  
> somewhat
> different from TeX.  Labeling would help in situations like that, or if
> someone had some other format such as MathType's MTEF format which is an
> ASCII representation of its internal format.

I haven't seen it proposed before that authors should label which format  
they use for their role='math' expression. Even though that would make it  
possible to disambiguate different expression syntaxes, it's not the  
simplest solution to the problem. The simplest solution I can come up with  
is to say that the expression must be encoded as and parsed as LaTeX  
(implying leading and trailing $ or $$).

>> But how do you implement it? Should the UA autodetect whether it's TeX  
>> or
>> LaTeX or something else? How are authors supposed to know what to write?
>> How do we achieve interoperability? What's the advantage of leaving it
>> open-ended?
>> > See the thread I started called 'New role="math" in ARIA, how to  
>> author
>> > and how browser would expose it'
>> > In that thread we're discussing some of the remaining issues, and you
>> can
>> > see the current definition.
>> The current definition doesn't seem to handle:
>>    <object role="math" data="foo">a^2+b^2=c^2</object>
>> Also, when would it be better to have the expression in another element
>> than as text in the element itself (i.e. when is labelledby needed for
>> role=math)?
>> Finally, I don't know (La)TeX very good, but shouldn't $ or $$ be  
>> implied
>> around the expression?

(I'm still not sure about the answers to these questions.)

Simon Pieters
Opera Software

Received on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 11:37:11 UTC