[whatwg] [Fwd: Re: Mathematics in HTML5]

I assume you meant to send this to the list.

Until I have time to write a full reply, I will just note that you seem to 
regard poor compatibility of existing web technologies as the major barrier to 
adoption of mathematical markup on the internet; I regard the problem as poor 
compatibility with existing authors who, by and large, have a poor knowledge of 
web technologies. No doubt the true problem is a mixture of both in some 
proportion. I certainly can't argue that a way of marking up mathematics with a 
more widespread implementation than MathML would be A Good Thing. However, 
elsewhere on this thread you have convinced me that a lot of CSS work is needed 
before it can display maths with any degree of complexity in a pleasant manner 
without requiring extensive, per-formula, adjustments to the style properties 
that would produce a considerable barrier to authoring.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2006 12:39:02 +0400
From: White Lynx <whitelynx@operamail.com>
To: James Graham <jg307 at cam.ac.uk>

James Graham wrote:
> They have to use LaTeX to prepare documents
> for publication, 
> it is the only language they know for typesetting
> mathematics and, in general, the web is not their major target medium.
However, for current markup proposal, web is major target medium,
which means that if markup will not be suitable for rendering in web browsers
then proposal is pointless.

> LaTeX generated websites tend to be html representations of lecture
> notes or papers that are primarily designed for consumption in paper or
> PDF formats. So the html version only exists at all because it is
> relatively little effort to produce it in addition to the main
> publication format. When that is not the case, there will simply be no
> html version provided.

This is partly true. However we can't do much here.
Complexity of task of tranforming LaTeX to XML+CSS depends only on LaTeX, XML 
and CSS,
if it is complex it is complex regardless current proposal, if it is easy then 
it is easy regardless our efforts.
Current proposal is intended to mirror existing niche in XML+CSS framework and 
provide approprietely
documented markup suitable for usage on web. Choosing completely different 
approach would require
browsers to implement something that goes far beyound existing capabilities of 
their rendering engines
and current scope of web standards, and would turn proposal into yet another 
long and sad story
of mythical mathematical markup born to save the earth, but being blocked by 
evil browser developers
failed to fullfil  its mission.

> My point throughout is that if you want people to use the language then
> backwards compatibility is key.
Backward compatibility will be provided exactly as defined in the position paper
submitted by Opera and Mozilla that represents the fundamental principles
upon which the WHAT working group intends to operate:

	Web application technologies should be based on technologies authors are 
familiar with,
	including HTML, CSS, DOM, and JavaScript.
	Basic Web application features should be implementable using behaviors, 
scripting, and style sheets in IE6 today
	so that authors have a clear migration path. Any solution that cannot be used 
with the current high-market-share
	user agent without the need for binary plug-ins is highly unlikely to be 

> I seem to have to keep
> repeating this point that compatibility with existing technology is
> important. 
Very well, our points of view are very close.

> The existing technology in the field of mathematical authoring is LaTeX.
Think about existing technology for web delivery of scientific content.
This is the area where all the problems come from.

> So, if one wanted to make life
> easy for LaTeX authors who envisioned targeting the web, one could
> provide a package that would add some mapping onto the more semantic
> constructs of the target language.
This is absolutely realistic, and seems to be the only way to reduce loss of 
valuable data
during conversion from LaTeX based authoring format to HTML based web delivery 
format (still suitable for direct authoring).

> I see no point in wasting time designing a document markup language that
> will be roundly ignored by ~100% of the people creating content.
Keep in mind that apart of authoring current proposal has to take into account 
other issues including web delivery.
If authoring is the end of story, then paper and pen are more then sufficient.

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Received on Wednesday, 7 June 2006 02:12:10 UTC