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Math Graphics Science

A MathML Progress Report: More Light Than Shadow 84

Posted by timothy
from the show-all-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recent reports of MathML's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Given the amount of marketing dollars companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have spent trying to convince a buying public to purchase their wares as educational tools, you'd think they'd deliver more than lip service by now. MathJax team member, Peter Krautzberger, has compiled a great overview of the current state of MathML, the standard for mathematical content in publishing work flows, technical writing, and math software: "20 years into the web, math and science are still second class citizens on the web. While MathML is part of HTML 5, its adoption has seen ups and downs but if you look closely you can see there is more light than shadow and a great opportunity to revolutionize educational, scientific and technical communication.""
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A MathML Progress Report: More Light Than Shadow

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  • MathML is horrible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2013 @01:33AM (#45309181)

    Have you ever tried to write anything in it?

    It doesn't flow for shit. Compare that to (La)TeX, where it flows not completely naturally, but it makes sense and actually writes in the order it will be, and mostly the order it's said when you say it.

    All the visual equation editors I have seen, including MathML editors, are utter crap. There's a reason why even Wikipedia uses it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Displaying_a_formula [wikipedia.org] .

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @02:48AM (#45309413) Journal

    Maybe it's just because I'm unfamiliar with MathML, but this seems like a *very* verbose way of writing equations. One of the examples in the article is the quadratic formula:


    <mtd><mrow>
    <mi>x</mi><mo>=</mo>
    <mfrac>
    <mrow><mo>-</mo><mi>b</mi><mo>±</mo>
    <msqrt><mrow><msup><mi>b</mi><mn>2</mn></msup><mo>-</mo><mn>4</mn><mi>a</mi><mi>c</mi></mrow></msqrt></mrow>
    <mrow><mn>2</mn><mi>a</mi></mrow>
    </mfrac>
    </mrow></mtd>

    That's 236 characters (ignoring whitespace) to write a 13 character equation, which is around 5% efficiency. Maybe that doesn't matter so much for bandwidth, but forget writing it by hand. (When would you do that? Well, commenting on web forums, for one thing...) Granted, there's some text formatting, but does every character really needs a separate tag around it?

  • by itsme1234 (199680) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @02:56AM (#45309451)

    While MathML can be used to describe stuff related directly to computation (like for example 1+2+3+...+n written with the big sigma symbol) more often is used for things that aren't computations and don't have a program equivalent (or at least not a useful one).

    Try to use a program to communicate some abstract theorem you just discovered.

  • LaTex plugin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 02, 2013 @03:59AM (#45309619)

    Is there some reason they're not using LaTeX. The computers now are warp speed fast and powerful versus the speed available when LaTeX was written. Write a LaTeX plugin already, problem solved.

    How did Scotty put it, "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain." I believe it was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

  • by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Saturday November 02, 2013 @04:39AM (#45309715) Homepage

    After six months, zero progress on fixing it.

    As usual, you've got to find someone who develops for Windows and is sufficiently interested to work on the bug. As it is a rendering problem, working on another platform and cross-compiling won't work, and the Windows API is sufficiently different to make it much easier to be a specialist rather than a cross-platform guy. I'd guess that if someone were willing to commit some money (some sort of targeted bug bounty) to pay for the fix, it would get done sooner.

    It's not magic. (Or rather it is, but we're all the magicians.)

  • by WombleGoneBad (2591287) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @07:00AM (#45310089)

    Typical open source bug handling ...

    As oppossed to commercial bug handling? On more than one occaision i have had problems in our systems, and traced the bug down to a bug in the commercial vendor product. From both Oracle and Microsoft we have got the response which was essentially "Yeah, its a bug. We have no plans to fix it, so tough luck buddy." To give another slighly different example, I had an issue displaying IBM Cognos produced excel spreadsheets on blackberry devices, and traced it down to them not bothering to follow the microsoft spec for .xlsx documents. They just said "oh we dont support blackberry", and took no interest in the fact that the root problem was that excel spreadsheets were actually malformed, and would be easily fixed. On an open source system i could have added a few lines to fix it myself. I probably could have decompiled the java and done this with Cognos, but i couldn't due to license restrictions.
    IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are 'big names' who have biggest budgets and investment in their brand, I doubt any of their competitors behave any better, and I would expect smaller commercial vendors support to be on average significantly worse.

    Often support for relatively obscure bugs in open source products suck, thing is it isn't *because* it is opensource, commercial support sucks too. You think because you are paying them for support you are calling the shots? it doesn't work that way. Opensource does however give you a lot more freedom. If offical support is letting you down you can fix it yourself, pay someone to fix it, or just investiage the code and try to figure out a way of avoiding the problem.

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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