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MathML: horrible

MathML: horrible

Posted Apr 29, 2011 0:01 UTC (Fri) by Comet (subscriber, #11646)
In reply to: MathML: horrible by n8willis
Parent article: MathML, Firefox, and Firemath

Shortly after I gave up on the idea of using MathML for a small project, simply because the MathML2 docs drove me to drink, someone on a mailing-list started a rant about XML schema abuse, to which my response was:

<paragraph><sentence><word pos="pronoun">You</word><word pos="verb"
subpos="auxilliary">should</word><word pos="verb">be</word><word
pos="adjective">grateful</word><word pos="conjunctive">that</word>
<word pos="pronoun">this</word><word pos="verb">is</word><word
pos="adverb">not</word><word pos="noun" subpos="proper">MathML</word>

*That* is what is wrong with MathML -- this contrived example of abusive English markup is what MathML does to molest any poor innocent equation it encounters.

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XML: horrible

Posted May 3, 2011 16:36 UTC (Tue) by i3839 (guest, #31386) [Link]

No, that is what is wrong with *all* XML based crap.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 4, 2011 15:02 UTC (Wed) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Bravo! Very well said. It seems like the people driving MathML don't actually like math very much but they adore XML.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 5, 2011 15:16 UTC (Thu) by PaulTopping (guest, #74605) [Link]

You guys are the crazy ones. MathML and all things XML are computer representations. That means that computer programs are the ones that are supposed to read and write them, not humans.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 5, 2011 15:20 UTC (Thu) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Then why isn't it a binary representation?

MathML: horrible

Posted May 6, 2011 7:15 UTC (Fri) by cladisch (✭ supporter ✭, #50193) [Link]

One of the goals of XML is to be compatible with SGML, which was designed to be written by humans. (Not very successfully.)

MathML: horrible

Posted May 6, 2011 13:03 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

In fact, clearly states that XML is intended to be human legible.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 6, 2011 16:08 UTC (Fri) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Crazy? Look around, Paul. Most XML is edited by hand: xhtml, spring configs, ant files, pom files (editors exist but are horrid), docbook, etc etc etc.

This is true of mathml too, where the few automated editors that I can try are even more painful to use than hand-editing, presentation-only, and often get it wrong.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 11, 2011 10:00 UTC (Wed) by oldtomas (guest, #72579) [Link]

This is one of the worst things about the XMLs. If someone says "unreadable!" (and (s)he is right!) the apologists answer: "it's meant to be machine-readable, not human readable". If someone says "redundant!" (WTF do you have to repeat the whole tag name on close? Why are there *two* quote characters for attribute values? Why the F don't you have a plain straight regular escape syntax in attribute values, but have to mis-use entity syntax for that (entities are meant for completely different things, remember!), creating the mess with "internal" vs. "external" entities? On and on!) -- then the apologists retort: "it's to catch (human) input errors!".

I have another theory: XML is a denial-of-service attack on all of us.

OK, to be more precise: XML is passable as a (traditional) document representation language (family). As a data representation language it's plain perverse.

And yes, the line between document and data is somewhat broad, but for maths (and music, and vectr graphics), I'd say we're clear off this line... firmly on the "data" side.

MathML: horrible

Posted May 12, 2011 18:59 UTC (Thu) by PaulTopping (guest, #74605) [Link]

XML is plain text so that it can be easily interchanged between computers, applications, etc. It is true that some people have created mini XML-based languages that they expect people to type. This works ok for them because their language and what it describes consists of a few named options with values. As you point out here, even for this application XML is not a great language. For something like math notation, the things it represents are complicated and its XML representation is complicated as a result. In short, if the thing being described is simple, typing XML is ok but not great. If the thing being described is complex, like math, typing it is ridiculous. Most uses of XML are of the latter kind and are completely behind the scenes.

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