MathML support in WeBWorK?  topic started 11/26/2002; 11:57:26 AM last post 11/26/2002; 6:13:16 PM 

Arnold K. Pizer  Re: MathML support in WeBWorK? 11/26/2002; 6:13:16 PM (reads: 963, responses: 0) 
Hi Zig, This summer I looked at adding MathML support to WeBWorK. Mostly I looked at using TtM. I decided that MathML was not yet ready for prime time. For the near future, it looks like dvipng is the way to go which is what WeBWorK 1.8 uses. It will certainly replace LaTeX2HTML and probably TtH as well. I found, quoting Ian Hutchinson (the author of TtH and TtM), that "Remember that popular browsers such as Netsc*pe and Internet Exploder are not able to render MathML. Therefore MathML is not yet immediately rendered for readers unless they have additional software. The W3C sponsored browser, Amaya does support the presentation markup that TtM uses, and latest versions give a reasonable rendering. Mozilla will not render the full output of TtM because it only supports MathML within XML not within HTML." Using TtM within WeBWorK to get MathML output is trivial. Doing it in such a way that it is rendered by popular browsers is not. There are two viable options (or were this summer). One is to quit using HTML and use XML instead (so e.g. one could use Netscape 7 or MSIE 6), say XHTML1.0Transitional. Actually WeBWorK output is moving toward XHTML1.0Transitional but it's certainly not there yet (and people who put their own html code, e.g. "messages of the day", inside of WeBWorK pages would have to be very careful). Getting all WeBWorK output to be valid XML is a big project. The other option is to use a standard browser and require an "plug in" such as MathPlayer. But in order to use TtM for this, you have to take the output of TtM and translate it so that it works with MathPlayer. Of course you also have to get all your students to install MathPlayer or the equivalent. I think things are still evolving very quickly with MathML and I decided it would be premature to put it into WeBWorK right now. Basically at this point no one is really using MathML. When MathML usage becomes even a tiny fraction of pdf usage, things will be much clearer. At that point (or before), WeBWorK will support MathML. Arnie 