[whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Sat Jun 17 10:35:14 PDT 2006

Stefan Gössner wrote:
> Anne van Kesteren wrote:
>>> "The core features of an XML vocabulary should require the use of 
>>> elements
>> Is math really a core feature? 
> Yes, absolutely .. the upcoming microlearning / nanolearning units 
> inevitably need math.
That's a really particular use case which is hardly representative of 
the web as a whole. As sad as it is, 99.9% of authors have no use for 
maths (otherwise all these problems would have been solved long ago). 
Maths is certainly less of a core feature for most authors than vector 
graphics and WHATWG aren't trying to re-implement SVG despite the fact 
that it too has no obvious IE6 compatibility story, poor CSS integration 
and various other problems.

Nowhere in the WHATWG document does it say that they're going to try and 
  fix everything. You have to choose your battles and, personally, I 
agree with the idea that, if the proponents of CSS-based maths want to 
work in the structure of the WHATWG, they should demonstrate the 
feasibility of their approach using a microformat. Given the constraints 
under which they have chosen to operate it should be possible to do this 
without any  difficulties. The microformat based approach has several 
advantages too, e.g. instant implementation in existing HTML4 UAs (a new 
markup language would require changes to the parser). This should allow 
the language to evolve as it encounters real-world needs so, if and when 
it is formally standardized, it will be a better product than typically 
results from an standardization-before-implementation approach.

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