[whatwg] Exploring new vocabularies for HTML

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Mon Mar 24 23:29:07 PDT 2008

I've read all 367 e-mails that were sent to the WHATWG, the HTMLWG, and to 
other forums on the topic of MathML, SVG, namespaces, etc, in HTML, 
spanning threads from 2006 to 2008. [1]

I've tried to summarise the problems (use cases) that people want solved, 
along with what they consider most important when faced with those 
problems [2]:

  1. Putting an equation in a Web page.
      * Maintainability
      * Searchability
      * Accessibility
      * Typographically-sound printing
      * Ease of authoring (are authors willing to learn new formats?)
      * Ease of import from existing documents
      * Ease of implementation (are UAs willing to implement new formats?)
      * Resistance to errors (e.g. not brittle in the face of syntax errors)

  2. Migrating from LaTeX to HTML.
      * Fidelity

  3. Writing a document by hand, with inline diagrams imported from a 
     graphics package.
      * Compatibility with existing graphics packages
      * Resistance to errors (e.g. not brittle in the face of syntax errors)
      * Scriptable (retained-mode, with DOM support, without requiring 
        cross-frame scripting)
      * Round-tripping (the ability to take image fragments from a Web page 
        and edit them)

  4. Writing documents that include diagrams that include
     typographically-correct mathematics.

Philip also wrote a detailed story, which touches on several of the points 
above, of what we want to enable. In addition to the points above, his 
requirements include a solution for ID clashes in multiple-document 
transclution, and a solution for embedding custom non-visible data in an 
HTML document for scripting purposes. [3]

Now, please, if I've missed something that you want to do, please let me 
know as soon as possible. I intend to start working on solutions to these 
problems tomorrow, and things that aren't on the list of problems will 
likely not be considered as constraints.

In particular, people seemed to jump to solutions that the above problems 
don't imply. For example, nowhere in the above list of problems do 
namespaces appear anywhere, yet the majority of the discussion revolved 
around namespace issues. If this is because I've missed a problem that in 
fact requires those solutions, please tell me as soon as possible.

I cannot solve problems I don't know exist!

[1] http://www.whatwg.org/issues/#html-parsing-rules-namespaces-discussion
[2] http://wiki.whatwg.org/wiki/New_Vocabularies 
[3] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Mar/0156.html

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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