RE: support for 'macro' formatting languages

Subject: RE: support for 'macro' formatting languages
From: Sebastian Rahtz <sebastian.rahtz@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 12:31:56 +0000 (GMT)
Pieter Rijken writes:

 > Has anyone ever tried to format a 6 page formula? (Please do not tell

that depends on the page size, doesn't it. 

 > typed the entire formula in LaTeX. But figuring out how to split
 > the formula across lines and keeping terms together in this process
 > such that the displayed formula still is understandable. That is the
 > real problem with formula's.
 > This you cannot get right with SGML, MATHML and DSSSL. 

I agree that current systems have not reached the level of TeX. Is
that a good reason to stop trying?

I might argue that with full semantic MathML the formatter would have
more information telling it how to break up a formula into lines. 

 > In such a case
 > one has to know the formatting language (rtf, tex, etc.) and somehow
 > specify in SGML what the formula should look like. Formatting instructions,
 > architectural forms,.....

you can use processing-instruction `hints' or "rend" attributes  as
much you like. I don't see the problem. The good thing is that the
formatting hints will clearly be visible as what they are, and not
tied up with the markup language as they are in LaTeX.

some people would argue that decoupling the page makeup engine from the 
abstract formatting (as DSSSL XSL do) is fatally flawed, unless you
have a two-way conversation between the two (which is what TeX
has). Frank Mittelbach (Mr LaTeX) tends to this view, for instance. I
have some sympathy with it, but my answer is that in the short term we 
will revert back to poor typography. 

TeX took us to previously unknown heights of automated typography in
the 80s, but I would argue that the web revolution means that people
will be willing to sacrifice typography to other concerns. In the case 
of math, that means being able to search and symbolically manipulate
their formula.

but thats just my view of where the world is going; don't jump on me
and says it's bad, because all I will do is agree with you.


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