RE: ANN: New Math on the Web Products Announced

Dear Mr. Harold,

Whereas I can't vouch for the number of significant digits in this number,
it was definitely not "plucked out of thin air". We did a survey about a
year ago of publishing companies and typesetting services that they contract
with. One of the questions we asked was something like "what fraction of
material processed by you containing math was in Microsoft Word format?" The
75% number was a result of that survey.

There are several points I can make that might help explain the difference
between our number and your perception of the actual value:

- Although the statement didn't clarify this, we were referring to the
format in which the documents were originally authored, rather than their
published format. However, in the context of converting documents to HTML,
this is reasonable. No one actually authors technical documents in
PostScript and PDF. So TeX and Word are really the only competitors here.

- I will grant that many authors in the physics and math areas write
documents using TeX. However, many other areas of science use math more and
more and do not use TeX. Many college students these days don't even bother
to learn TeX.

- Teachers at the high school level on up create large amounts of material
containing equations (tests and other classroom materials). Until you get to
the 4-year college level, most of these teachers use MS Word and have never
even heard of TeX.

I don't say this in order to slam TeX. It produces fine-looking output. It's
just too hard to learn for most people.


Paul Topping                
President                             email:
Design Science, Inc.                  phone: 562-433-0685

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Elliotte Rusty Harold []
> Sent: Monday, October 16, 2000 6:42 PM
> To: Bruce Virga; ''
> Subject: Re: ANN: New Math on the Web Products Announced
> At 11:52 AM -0700 10/16/00, Bruce Virga wrote:
> >  "Since 75% of the
> >world's scientific and technical documents are Microsoft 
> Word documents with
> >Equation Editor and MathType equations, it's very important 
> that our users
> >have a way to present those documents on the Web.
> Now how do you know that? It sounds to me like a figure plucked out 
> of thin air. Certainly it's decidedly untrue for all the scientific 
> and technical documents I deal with. I guess it depends on your 
> definition of "technical" but I'd say that by far the most common 
> format I run across in science is the TeX document or PostScript or 
> PDF documents generated from a TeX document. HTML is a distant 
> second. Word doesn't even merit a mention.
> The only way to move Word up in the rankings would be to include the 
> vast quantities of computer documentation that don't use equations 
> like software manuals and computer books. A lot of this is written in 
> Word, but since almost none of it uses equations, that hardly matters 
> here.
> -- 
> +-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
> | Elliotte Rusty Harold | | Writer/Programmer |
> +-----------------------+------------------------+-------------------+
> |                  The XML Bible (IDG Books, 1999)                   |
> |                   |
> |   |
> +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+
> |  Read Cafe au Lait for Java News: |
> |  Read Cafe con Leche for XML News:     |
> +----------------------------------+---------------------------------+

Received on Monday, 16 October 2000 22:16:32 UTC