## Stix Scientific Fonts Reach Beta Release 159

Posted
by
Zonk

from the make-sure-to-!-after-the-word-science dept.

from the make-sure-to-!-after-the-word-science dept.

starseeker writes

*"At long last, the STIX project has posted a Beta release of their scientific fonts. The mission of the STIX project has been the 'preparation of a comprehensive set of fonts that serve the scientific and engineering community in the process from manuscript creation through final publication, both in electronic and print formats.' The result is a font set containing thousands of characters, and hopefully a font set that will become a staple for scientific publishing. Among other uses, it has long been hoped that this would make the wide scale use of MathML in browsers possible. Despite rather long delays the project has persisted and is now showing concrete results."*
## TeX (Score:0, Informative)

## Re:awesome (Score:5, Informative)

## Re:TeX (Score:1, Informative)

## Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (Score:2, Informative)

With all the other systems, there is a learning curve, but you are trading a little bit of work now to learn them versus a lot of wasted work over the course of being lazy and using equation editor. Time to step up to the plate.

## Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (Score:5, Informative)

Before you complain about TeX being complicated: even my younger brother, whose still in high-school, figured out (with no help from me!) what a piece of shit Equation Editor is, and switched to TeX. Equation Editor, like Word itself, is barely sufficient for writing high-school lab reports, much less university-level science and engineering work!

## Re:math typography (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:arg (Score:5, Informative)

They don't validate the e-mail address.

## Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:Really all that new? (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:TeX (Score:1, Informative)

## Re:Where's navigation (going to)? (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (Score:5, Informative)

http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2007/11/threads.html [debian.org]

## Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:Where's navigation (going to)? (Score:1, Informative)

http://www.ams.org/STIX/private/stixprv-index.html [ams.org]

## Re:Really all that new? (Score:4, Informative)

http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2007/11/threads.html [debian.org]

## Re:chicken (Score:2, Informative)

## mathml (Score:5, Informative)

There's nothing new about being able to produce good-looking math output using free software and free fonts; people have been doing that for decades using tex/latex, and the relevant fonts are free enough that they can be distributed with linux distributions.

What's really new and important about STIX is that it will work better with technologies other than latex, especially web browsers. Mathml has been kicking around since 1999, but browser supported has always sucked to high heaven. One of the things holding browsers back from implementing mathml well has been the issue of fonts. Mathml is xml, so it naturally should use unicode. Latex dates back to long before the creation of unicode, so all its fonts are in obscure non-unicode encodings. The approach so far has been to cobble together something that works by building a Frankenstein's monster made out of various fonts that weren't designed to look good together, and that come from various sources. Even though Firefox now has mathml enabled by default, and I have the recommended witches' brew of fonts installed on my linux box, firefox still nags me about its fonts every time it needs to render mathml. The only way this is going to get better is with the STIX fonts.

For an example of how screwed up things have been, take a look at the archives of the Wikiproject Mathematics talk page on Wikipedia. WP's software uses software that renders LaTeX math into bitmaps, and that software has only very limited mathml output functionality, which is not actually being used. There was a project by a math grad student at harvard to make something better, called blahtex, which would have allowed mathml to be output as well. A user who was interested in mathematical topics, and who had Firefox, could set a preference on his WP account so that math would always be displayed to him in mathml, which would look much better (both on the screen and on paper) than the crappy screen-resolution bitmaps. Well, he wrote the thing, got it working great, tested it extensively on a huge number of equations harvested from actual WP pages, built support for it among WP editors. And when all was said and done, the Mediawiki developers wouldn't take his code. Basically the reasoning seems to have been that browser support for mathml sucked, so there was no point in disturbing mediawiki's codebase for a feature nobody cared about.

Ouch.

It's been a real chicken-and-egg thing. Since mathml support in IE requires a plugin, nobody's bothered to put much effort into making mathml content. MS's motivation for building mathml support into IE has been low, because nobody was using mathml, and the fonts weren't available. Although firefox has mathml support, it's extremely buggy, and the motivation to fix the bugs has been low, because nobody was using mathml, and the fonts weren't available. The fact that STIX is finally coming out may finally generate some excitement among developers about making mathml into a going concern on the web.

Anothing thing holding everyone back is that people are still expecting to be able to write html as if it was 1995, with no quotes around attributes, unbalanced tags, etc. That isn't going to work for xml-based technologies like mathml, and in fact firefox won't render mathml if it occurs on a page that's not valid xhtml. That seems to have been one of the big factors holding back adoption of mathml by mediawiki, for example, because the html code generated by mediawiki isn't valid xml.

I'm really hoping that sometime soon square roots won't look messed up on the screen in firefox's rendering of mathml, and a printed mathml web page won't look so horrible.

## Re:Really all that new? (Score:1, Informative)

Have you ever tried to read those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) from the screen?Kind of - I use the latin-modern family, a Type1/OpenType derivative of Computer Modern. Looks pretty good, actually.

## Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (Score:2, Informative)

## Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (Score:4, Informative)

Why are they doing this? There's a nice FLOSS license for fonts: the OFL [sil.org].

As a linguist I do not like the SIL as a institution, but their fonts and the license under which the fonts are distributed are without any doubt great.

## Re:conditions for use (Score:2, Informative)

## Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:Licensing is a critical part of the software. (Score:5, Informative)

They discredited linguistics as a science in many countries of Asia, Africa and South America - especially through their missionary work and their connections to US governmental agencies (e.g. CIA) and US corporations. That's not the SIL alone, but they are the biggest and most powerful organization of that kind. And, they actually carry linguistics in their name. You can't work as a linguist in many countries without being permanently considered as a missionary or worse.

Because of their religious and political activity they were thrown out of several Latin American states where they acted much more aggressively than in Africa and Asia. (There are several books on that subject, but I can't tell which is actually good. The SIL says - of course - none.)

To sum it up, they use science as a cover for their religious-political agenda - as a scientist that makes me very angry.

But to be fair, their fonts [sil.org] (and XeTeX [sil.org] for that matter) are great stuff and a lot of people associated with them do respectable, even tremendous, work.

## Re:mathml (Score:3, Informative)

I think you have to keep in mind that MathML is intended to be a more general mark-up than what you get in TeX or your typical word processor's equation editor. For example, the

⁢entity in MathML means the presentation is unambiguous and can be parsed in different ways, perhaps even spoken by a screen reader, and has no equivalent in the other notations under discussion here. MathML is verbose, and certainly not friendly to human writers, but it was never intended to be a replacement for TeX-style mark-up.## Re:Equation Editor/Matlab (Score:3, Informative)

This is my preferred way of typesetting equations for Keynote or Powerpoint presentations, btw. (There are similar methods involving OS X Services, but in my experience LaTeXit works smoother).