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Stix Scientific Fonts Reach Beta Release 159

Posted by Zonk
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."
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Stix Scientific Fonts Reach Beta Release

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  • TeX (Score:0, Informative)

    by eggman9713 (714915) <{eggman97132007} {at} {mac.com}> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @07:43PM (#21227333)
    Umm, we already have a perfectly good standard solution. It's called TeX [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:awesome (Score:5, Informative)

    by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @07:46PM (#21227351) Homepage
    Stupid. Those fonts are primarily meant for TeX-based applications, for example LaTeX. rarely used characters are written with commands that start with backslash, for example: \ldots .
  • Re:TeX (Score:1, Informative)

    by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @07:50PM (#21227377) Homepage
    Read that fscking website, you idiot! Those fonts are primarily meant for TeX-based applications, for example LaTeX. Yes, LaTeX has umpteen gazillion packages for writing all those exotic mathematical operators, but STIX Fonts provides them totally consistent outlook.
  • by Whatsisname (891214) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:26PM (#21227613) Homepage
    Try using openoffice's math editor, it blows away Equation Editor. Equation editor sucks, requires too much clicking. OpenOffice's can be done entirely with the keyboard, so it is much faster. Mathematica's entering system is pretty good too. Accomplished Tex writers can churn out equations as fast as they can think them.

    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.
  • by be-fan (61476) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:34PM (#21227659)
    It's called TeX, learn it once, and reap the benefits for the rest of your life. Instead of dicking around with Equation Editor's error-prone, piece of shit GUI, you can typeset good looking mathematics very quickly and easily. Plus, it's trivial to integrate with other tools. For example, when I work on a simulation in Matlab, I have the program generate TeX code and EPS images for the results and dump them into a file. Then I use \input{} to refer to those results from the main body of my paper. This way if I rerun the simulation for whatever reason, the paper automatically picks up the updated results. Also, TeX's code display facilities allow me to make nice code listings that are again kept up to date with the actual Matlab code of the simulation. Also, on top of all that, TeX outputs professional-looking PDFs, not the raggedy-text shit that Word excretes.

    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)

    by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:36PM (#21227673) Homepage
    STIX Fonts have both text fonts and math fonts. Therefore you do not need to care, how they look like with other serif fonts used for body, because STIX Fonts can handle that body text, too. On the other hand, STIX Fonts are made to look like Times. Therefore, any sans serif and monospace font that looks good with Times should look good with STIX Fonts.
  • Re:arg (Score:5, Informative)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot.lepertheory@net> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:36PM (#21227675) Homepage

    They don't validate the e-mail address.

  • Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

    by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:40PM (#21227709) Homepage
    It is Unicode-font. Therefore your problem _may_ exist only with those characters that are mapped to Private Use Area. It seems those fonts have some characters that are not yet in Unicode.
  • by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:43PM (#21227715) Homepage
    Have you ever tried to read those default fonts of TeX (Computer Modern) from the screen? Trust me: It is just raping your eyes. But of course, they want to make those STIX Fonts fonts free (as in free speech). Those fonts of Mathematica are not free in that sense.
  • Re:TeX (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:47PM (#21227737)
    Yes, the website reads:

    Regrettably, this beta test will not include TeX support. We expect the TeX package to be ready for beta test near the end of this year.
  • by sarge apone (918461) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:49PM (#21227747)
    Drill down to the Project page: http://www.stixfonts.org/project.html [stixfonts.org] And the American Mathematical Society STIX project page has some examples: http://www.ams.org/STIX/private/stixprv-E2.html [ams.org]
  • by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:52PM (#21227767) Homepage
    According to people in debian-legal -mailinglist that latest license is not yet free enough. Also, IIRC those fonts can not be included to TeX Live, because license is not yet free enough. Problem is this: Not every kind of modification is allowed. You can remove or add glyphs and modify them, but there are also other things that can be done to fonts, for example modifying kerning.

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2007/11/threads.html [debian.org]
  • Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:52PM (#21227769) Homepage Journal
    Times New Roman provides more scientific characters than the average home user will ever need. However, it does not meet he needs of the academic crowd, hence the need for this project. And instead of sprinkling a few characters across many fonts, it makes more sense to have a dedicate font (or fonts) where you know to look specifically for scientific symbols.
  • by sarge apone (918461) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @08:54PM (#21227783)
    Sorry, I should have linked to this page on the AMS site, which links to many more examples:
    http://www.ams.org/STIX/private/stixprv-index.html [ams.org]
  • by juhtolv (2181) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:00PM (#21227823) Homepage
    Yes, I know, They _want_ to make them free, but there are still some problems in the license:

    http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2007/11/threads.html [debian.org]
  • Re:chicken (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mawbid (3993) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:10PM (#21227865)
    chicken [youtube.com]
  • mathml (Score:5, Informative)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:17PM (#21227905) Homepage

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:37PM (#21227965)
    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.
  • by Ig0r (154739) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @09:56PM (#21228053)
    LyX is a nice frontend program that simplifies LaTeX input
  • by zeromorph (1009305) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:05PM (#21228095)

    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.

  • by coyote4til7 (189857) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @10:56PM (#21228369) Homepage
    Derivative is actually used in the dictionary sense. The document is developed (or derived) from previous (presumably scientific) work. It is expressed with the font. In this case a derivative work would be a font based on this one.
  • Re:awesome (Score:3, Informative)

    by ortholattice (175065) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @04:00AM (#21229749)
    Even better, check out the The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List [ctan.org] (PDF file). For a quick and dirty overview of what kinds of symbols aren't in Times New Roman, a large scientific/mathematical subset of these have been converted to screen bitmaps: GIF and PNG Images for Math Symbols [metamath.org].
  • by zeromorph (1009305) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @05:57AM (#21230071)

    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)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @12:46PM (#21232077)

    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 &InvisibleTimes; 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.

  • by torako (532270) on Sunday November 04, 2007 @02:57PM (#21233611) Homepage
    I love LaTeXit on the Mac. It's so tightly integrated in the Mac way of doing things that people don't even notice they're using LaTeX (well, apart from the syntax ;). It features a small windows where you can enter snippets of LaTeX which it will compile and display. You can then drag and drop the image to basically any program where it will appear as a PDF, with transparent background and all.

    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).

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