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MathML: horrible

MathML: horrible

Posted May 11, 2011 10:00 UTC (Wed) by oldtomas (guest, #72579)
In reply to: MathML: horrible by PaulTopping
Parent article: MathML, Firefox, and Firemath

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.

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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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