Some comments on MathML and Amaya, includes a sample MML document


I've recently been experimenting with creating mathematical text for the
web using MathML and Amaya and I thought it would be a good idea to pass
along some comments in the hope that the W3C can use them to improve the
quality of the MathML specification and the Amaya program. Please feel
free to pass these comments to the appropriate party if I am addressing
the wrong person.

First let me say that I truly appreciate the work that the W3C has done
in this area. I've read some the the mathematical text on the web that
does not use MathML and, from what I've seen, the results are far from
satisfactory for reasons I'm sure you can list as well as I can.

My first attempt at creating the attached document was using Amaya as an
editor. I found this somewhat awkward and confusing. The most serious
problem I encountered was that if I closed the Amaya window with unsaved
changes in the editor, I could not cancel this action without the
program crashing. Fortunately, my work was restored when I restarted the
program again. Even without the program crashing, the way this works is
non-standard, at least in the Windows world. Most Windows programs in
this situation give the user three options: Yes - Save and exit. No -
Exit but don't save, and Cancel - Don't exit. Another problem I
encountered was in adding and deleting MathML operators. When I tried to
add some operators the program would insert an additional character
which was rendered as a black rectangle, and I couldn't seem to delete
some operators once they were added. Finally, the file output from the
program did not use the CR/LF sequence for line breaks that is standard
in Windows. This made it difficult to open the file in a text editor.

(For debugging purposes, I was using v3.2, July 4, 2000, on a Windows 98

Amaya did render MathML correctly with the following exception, when I
tried to use the ⟨ operator, it was rendered as a '?'.
I used ⟨ instead, though this operator does not seem to be
documented in the specification. There were a couple of small formatting
issues as well. First, I noticed that when a line started with either a
'(' or a '[', the start of the line was not flush with the other text.
Second, when I used the ':' operator, there was no space between the ':'
and the next character as would be expected.

Lastly, though I realize that the MathML specification is not intended
to be a tutorial or a beginner's guide, I would like to suggest that a
few links to complete pages that use MathML would be extremely helpful.
I eventually found some very useful examples at There are some complex
mathematical notations on
but I didn't think this was useful as an example because it is
implemented using complex tables and not with MathML proper.

Feel free to use the attached file in whatever way you see fit, though I
won't make any claims as to the quality of the mathematical content. If
you have any suggestions as to how the document can be changed to
conform better with the MathML standard I would appreciate your sending
them to me. Also, I apologize in advance if any of the problems listed
above are due to my own ignorance or incompetence.

Received on Wednesday, 26 July 2000 03:13:00 UTC