RE: support for 'macro' formatting languages

Subject: RE: support for 'macro' formatting languages
From: Norman Gray <norman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 11:03:00 +0000 (GMT)
On Wed, 15 Dec 1999, Sebastian Rahtz wrote:

> Norman Gray writes:
>  > small part of the issue.  The killer is how you write the maths, and
>  > I can't think of any SGML-only solution to that.
> how do you think all the Elsevier journals work? they are full-text
> SGML, with math

I didn't doubt it, and I'm sure that works well for Elsevier.  What I'm
talking about is a solution that works for the author.

>  > of even slowing down.  I am an SGML evangelist, but I know that I
>  > would have to abandon any publisher that demanded I submit maths in
>  > anything other than LaTeX.
> Why don't you just plug a LaTeX to MathML translation into your tool
> set? thats what I would do. And don't say there aren't any, please...

What Elsevier (or whoever) plugs into _their_ toolset is none of my
business.  MathML would probably be a better archival format than LaTeX,
so it might be sensible for the publisher to normalise the author's
source, from LaTeX maths notation to SGML, as the very first processing
step.  It would conceivably even be possible for authors to be required to
do that normalisation themselves, with some magically cross-platform tool,
as long as the maths they type into the master document were in LaTeX.

As a DTD author, I would like document authors to write maths in MathML,
because it's the Right Thing To Do.  However I, as an author, will not
write maths in anything but LaTeX, any more than someone writing in
Greek would be willing to select characters from a menu or generate a
clatter of incomprehensible entity references.

I don't see what the problem is, here.  You don't write images in SGML --
you use postscript or GIFs or something else.  SGML has facilities for
alternative notations because there are times when alternative notations
are better.  TeX was designed by a mathematician to let good-looking
maths be intuitive to type and reasonably easy to read.  Whatever
TeX's other failings, it succeeds in that at least, and I doubt you'd
persuade anyone that there is a reasonable alternative.

All the best,


Norman Gray              
Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK     norman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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