MozillaZine

New Draft of SVG Spec

Wednesday April 28th, 1999

There's a new draft of the Scalable Vector Graphics spec at the W3C. Thanks to Matt for the news.


#14 Re:New Draft of SVG Spec

by Roger B. Sidje <rbs@maths.uq.edu>

Sunday May 2nd, 1999 8:52 PM

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Thanks Brendan for pointng us to that effort. I have just read it, quoting from that page, I now understand that "EzMath provides an easy to learn notation for embedding mathematical expressions in Web pages. It is inspired by the way you would speak an expression if you were asked to read it over the phone." For example, EzMath will parse the plain text "a plus b equals c" to display and/or render the MathML code for "a+b=c".

That's fine. But the problems are:

* it is a plug-in. Math is not just an embedded music icon, or the big rectangle of a java applet sitting somewhere on the screen. So the alignment/font/size often doesn't match and blend gracefully with other parts of the page. There is an instructive comparison and review about this <http://hutchinson.belmont.ma.us/tth/>

* EzMath covers only a limited set of math formulas

* the worse of all, it cannot (yet) take the MathML code itself as input.

Having said this, it is however worth noting that the focus is on the merits of a native/built-in support of MathML within Gecko, not on the merits of a particular plug-in that one has to download and then write the math expressions in a certain manner. If the Gecko lizard can directly chew MathML, it doesn't matter which tools was used to generate the MathML code in the first place.

What I find very interesting in EzMath is that it may actually be used to reverse engineer MathML and obtain a natural language transliteration of cryptic MathML content tags, e.g. an English rendition of a MathML code. But that's another story.

Personally, rather than using the verbose syntax of EzMath, I am inclined to use LaTeX/TeX (written by D. E. Knuth, the guru!) and leave the task of converting from TeX/LaTeX to MathML to an auxiliary tool. In fact, with the yet another great mozilla idea of the "Transformation Services", if one is more at ease with TeX/LaTeX, one just can copy-paste the plain TeX/LaTeX text (or the EzMath text for that matter) in the HTML text, then let the client do the conversion on the fly in MathML (with a third party tool), before feeding the Gecko lizard with the whole lot.

Hence it is the built-in support of MathML within Gecko that is essential. The rest is incidental.