suspect that the same technique could work with fractions in which, for
example, the denominator is an expression, but the numerator is (or
contains) an answer blank.
In someways this is a limited version of what tth is doing when turning
TeX layout to HTML layout, but at the last stage you would insert the
symbols as a png instead of as equations made from symbol (and other)
fonts. This avoids the non-standard font problem, which is somewhere
between annoying and deadly depending on which browser you are using
and the degree of sophistication of the user. There are probably limits
to how far one can go mixing TeX and HTML in this way, but the limits
may not matter for the type of mathematics we need for calculus
Here are some other thoughts on this problem in general:
1. The display used can be made to depend on information about the
browser being used. Since browser's frequently lie about their identity
this is risky at best.
2. I've had a project on the back burner to try to filter the output of
tth and replace all symbols by unicode versions of the symbol. Would
that help handle non-uniformity in browsers? How well do the browsers
currently in use handle unicode? I'm not particularly knowledgeable
about unicode, so I'd appreciate any feedback anyone can give me on
this point. Is there any hope that this approach would increase the
compatibility of tth with the majority of browsers?
3. Another idea for mixing tex/dvipng pictures and answer blanks would
be to show the answer blank outlined within the equation, and make the
png an image map. Clicking on an answer blank outline would popup
another small window into which the answer could be entered. No doubt
another set of compatibility problems exists in that direction, but
4. Along the same lines, I've also felt that it would be neat if the
previewer, instead of replacing the current problem, was designed to be
a second window (or a panel of the first window) which displayed the
current input in typeset form when the cursor was over the input box.
I think there is a lot of room for experimentation in the display modes
for WeBWorK. We tried to make the framework such that all of these
display modes could coexist with choices being made by the user (at
least until we've done enough experimentation to weed out some of the
ideas that really don't work at all.) Even text mode has it's uses as
debugging tool and in those instances where someone is using lynx or a
low bandwidth PDA to do their homework.
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