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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
David Carlisle <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 11 Nov 1998 09:50:30 GMT
<[log in to unmask]> (message from Roozbeh Pournader on Wed, 11 Nov 1998 00:17:48 +0330)
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (75 lines)
> I can't install a graphical MathML editor on every platform I use
> (currently Linux, MSDOS, Win95, and VMS).

The original (which I was not on) MathML committee made the decision to
make MathML an XML application. (This was rather lucky as since then XML
has really taken off and become the flavour of the month...) That
inevitably meant that MathML would have a very verbose syntax, as the
main difference between XML and SGML is that all the minimisation and
shortcut markup features in SGML are thrown out of XML. They made the
decision at around that time (which is still quite controversial, I
suppose, that the important thing about MathML would be that it should
markup the structure. The original charter had a `requirement' that
MathML (then called HTML Math) would be easy to edit by hand.
This aim is _explicitly_ dropped in the MathML recommendation, hand
editing (although nice) was not the priority.

That being said, in fact it _is_ possible to hand write MathML, I have
done quite a lot of that this year. However I do not think that that is
really the way things will work. I do not think you will have to buy or
install a graphical editor. For emacs for instance I would expect that
you would be able to write something like $x^2+2$ and hit a key and have
it insert the right thing which, for those that don't know MathML is
in Presentation MathML or
in Content MathML (hope I got those right:-)

me> Some of us will continue to use that kind of interface, but MathML
me> offers the hope of using systems like Scientific Word, and even
me> Microsoft Word via the MathType/Equation Editor thing and getting

> Oh oh! First rule: good freely available TeX material should exits always.
> An undergraduate student whose father's salary is 100 dollars in month
> can't buy softwares, and this is the case in Iran. (Sorry for localizing.)

I do understand the importance of free software. (I have, after all
spent probably by now thousands of hours supporting free software of one
sort or another). However the TeX world is not really the problem, TeX
users are used to the idea of high level markup and transformations from
one format to another while retaining meaning. But Microsoft is not ever
going to make MSWord write TeX. It _will_ however make it write XML and
possibly MathML. This gives the chance to bring `the tex world' in to
line, and in communication with, the (much larger) world using more
conventional commercial software. The free tools will still be there
and will get modified, given time, to support MathML and TeX equally well,
it is getting the expensive tools to be any good that is harder. It's a
strange world.

> a simple MathML formula like the famous equivalent of
> x = \frac{-b \pm \sqrt{b^{2} - 4ac}}{2a}
> seems very obscure to me.

but as of today the above is `very obscure' to most systems other than
latex, but the MathML version can be read (and written) by (test
versions of) most of the major symbolic algebra packages and (hopefully
soon) by the major web browsers, and also, by TeX.