[whatwg] Mathematics in HTML5

White Lynx whitelynx at operamail.com
Mon Jun 19 03:57:45 PDT 2006

Ian Hickson wrote:

> It can be based on XML 
> if that is what the Microformats process shows is best.
> The point is to show the maturity of your proposal before it is put into 

Mature working draft? Sounds interesting. ISO 12083 is the most mature mathematical
markup, we just suggested to redesign it in the way suitable for usage in XML/CSS.
It can be done outside HTML5 of course, but since people usually use (X)HTML as a host
language for math formulae doing this work within HTML5 makes more sense.

> > Do you pay any fee for registered element names? ;)
> Yes.

No. At first stage markup can be used in XHTML5 with fallback 
style sheets and thus elements require absolutely no extra efforts to 

> Assuming that the people involved value their time at an average of $10 
> per hour, that's 3179 man-hours at $10 each, so $31,790 per element name.

Your arguments basically work against your own proposals, as they basically 
apply to MathML that would require native support and in general they apply to
HTML as a host language. If HTML is so expensive why won't you abandon it?
<!-- In XML no one pays for element name as a such (unless element requires new 
functionality to be implemented, which is not the case in current proposal). -->

> > Stretchy glyphs are one example. You can do basic maths with CSS, 
> > > sure. It's the high-end typography that's the problem.
> > 
> > Yes, but [...]
> I was asked for examples of what your proposal couldn't do. I was just 
> providing examples. I'm glad you agree that your solution can't do 
> everything that MathML (for instance) can do.

Is lack of hyphenation support related to limitations of HTML or not?
Apparently not. Then why you blame lack of support for similar typographical 
issues in mathematics on structural markup.

> I have suggested a process by which you could prove your proposal would 
> work. That is hardly a rejection.

Today it is equivalent to rejecting proposal and leaving today's requirements

> Mathematicians have asked me to put MathML in HTML5.

Very vague statement. Fill free to do whatever you want, I won't interfere anymore.

> Your claim that your proposal is adequate for rendering 
> maths is unsubstantiated; I have suggested a process by which you could 
> show that it is true.

When you blame lack of typographical quality on markup, while typographical
issues od similar importance are not yet addressed in HTML itself
(think about hyphenation, vertical text, ruby, combining diacritical marks, text 
justification algorythms, multicolumn printing, page numbering etc.), 
then what do you expect from process? Do you expect someone to sit down and
address all typographical qulity issues in all CSS rendering engines?
I fear it is a long process, it took nearly ten years to reach level of
CSS support that we have today, and once this level was reached you don't even want
to allocate appropriate elements/attribute names in (X)HTML5 so mathematicians could reuse
existing functionality that current CSS rendering engines provide for granted.
So once again what do you expect from process? If you expect to see 100% consensus on markup side
then note that process is going on since 1988, result is bunch of PDF files 
instead of scientific web.

> You will note that I have not put MathML into HTML5 either. 

It does not really matter for me, MathML will remain to be MathML whether 
one will use it in XHTML, HTML, DocBook, TEI or somewhere else. 
The problems remain the same.

> I would like a 
> better idea of whether that approach would work too, before following up 
> on it. The same applies to any proposal; MathML has at least a proven 
> implementation that shows that it can be implemented (to at least the same 
> degree as HTML itself), and that shows that it can be done within DOM- and 
> CSS-based browsers.

Interesting. It can be done within DOM and CSS based browsers if you'll disable
95% of CSS properties and appropriate DOM2 style counterparts on MathML elements.
In other words it can not be done and is not done in any of MathML implementations.
In any case fell free to do whatever you want, if I am the only one who is concerned
about lack of reasonable math markup in HTML then it should not be a problem as 
personally I don't use HTML for math articles at all (the only HTML document on 
my site is 404 error page).

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