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Note:These pages make extensive use of the latest XHTML and CSS Standards. They ought to look great in any standards-compliant modern browser. Unfortunately, they will probably look horrible in older browsers, like Netscape 4.x and IE 4.x. Moreover, many posts use MathML, which is, currently only supported in Mozilla. My best suggestion (and you will thank me when surfing an ever-increasing number of sites on the web which have been crafted to use the new standards) is to upgrade to the latest version of your browser. If that's not possible, consider moving to the Standards-compliant and open-source Mozilla browser.

April 2, 2004

Muddle

Nobody told me, but MathPlayer 2.0 is out of beta and has been officially released. Now, IE/Win users, even those unaccountably reluctant to install a beta plugin for use with their browser, can enjoy full MathML support1. And, yes, with the plugin installed, their browser won’t choke and spit when it encounters a web page sent out as application/xhtml+xml.

One can hope that, now that 90% (or whatever the number is supposed to be) of the world’s web surfers can potentially read XHTML+MathML documents, we’ll see a flurry of activity, bringing MathML support to various CMS platforms.

One of the platforms I’ve been looking at is Moodle, the only CourseWare package I’ve seen that doesn’t totally suck. There’s been a flurry of activity to bring math-capability to Moodle, but, so far, the result is pretty much of a muddle. There are 3 or 4 different ways of introducing math into Moodle pages, each with its own idiosyncrasies. You’d think you know what the obvious choice is; but, alas

And as Martin explained, MathML will not display in Moodle pages under Mozilla, because Moodle currently does not produce xhtml compliant pages.


1 This development leaves Safari as the only major browser without MathML support. (I supposed I’m about to get flamed by the Opera users; I’ll grant them that their browser doesn’t support MathML either.) Since MathML support under Mozilla/Mac is so rotten, this leaves Mac users as the poor cousins of their Linux- and even, gallingly, of their Windows-using brethren.

Posted by distler at April 2, 2004 2:32 AM

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Re: Muddle

In the MathML BLOG/Wiki project at
http://www.hartlage.de:8080/hmath/space/TeX+Sandbox
we are trying to generate “Math CSS” for Opera/Safari browsers (only tested with Opera but I suppose that it should also work with Safari).
Problems with Math CSS: Sqrt and Roots are not shown in math-style; must implement some rules for better displaying stretchy characters around matrices and vectors.
BTW: do you know the AsciiMath JavaScript
http://www1.chapman.edu/~jipsen/asciimath.html
which now can be used in plain HTML files with Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox?

Posted by: jsurfer on April 4, 2004 2:11 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

AsciiMath

In the MathML BLOG/Wiki project we are trying to generate “Math CSS” for Opera/Safari browsers (only tested with Opera but I suppose that it should also work with Safari). Problems with Math CSS: Sqrt and Roots are not shown in math-style; must implement some rules for better displaying stretchy characters around matrices and vectors.

Based on what I have seen, “Math CSS” is a crude hack. You might as well render the TeX equations into GIF images. Far less trouble, for more satisfactory results.

BTW: do you know the AsciiMath JavaScript which now can be used in plain HTML files with Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox?

Its main claim to fame is that it works with MathPlayer 1.x and Mozilla.

It also does client-side conversion (from something LaTeX-like into MathML), unlike the server-side conversion (using itex2MML) that we use here.

Since MathPlayer 2.0 now handles genuine, Standards-based XHTML+MathML pages, that aspect of AsciiMath.js is obsolete. There’s no reason to send out nonstandard, invalid, crapola pages, and have them converted on-the-fly into something usable, when you can author perfectly valid, Standards-based XHTML+MathML pages and have them render just fine, both in IE+MathPlayer and in Mozilla.

There’s something intriguing about doing client-side conversion, I’ll admit. One thing it lets you do is serve up dynamic pages, without incurring the extra server-load of doing all the conversions on-the-fly. Instead, we offload that task to the client. Some find that objectionable, on principle. I, however, can see where it might be useful.

Unfortunately AsciiMath.js currently has rather limited conversion capabilities, compared to itex2MML. And it, generally, makes me nervous to send nonstandard gobbledygook (the LaTeX-like syntax used for inputting equations) out over the wire, and rely on the client to convert it into something sensible.

(For those not into math, an analogy would be sending out Textile code over the wire, and having it rendered into XHTML via client-side javascript.)

Posted by: Jacques Distler on April 4, 2004 9:40 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Muddle

1) Link to ASCIIMath is VALIDATED by W3C when i click.

2) Criticism to generation of MathML on-fly is not deep. Since one can use the ASCIIMath editor for obtaining directly the MathML + XHTML code.

3) ASCIMATH is multiplataform.

Posted by: Juan R. on December 20, 2005 1:06 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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