# UK Web Focus

## Innovation and best practices for the Web

The blog is written by Brian Kelly. Brian is the Innovation Advocate based at CETIS, University of Bolton.

This blog functions as an open notebook which provides personal thoughts, reflections and observations on the role of the Web in higher and further education which I hope will inform readers and stimulate discussion and debate, both on this blog and elsewhere, including on Twitter.

Note that you can also view information on Brian's peer-reviewed papers. My ORCID ID is 0000-0001-5875-8744

You can also access Brian Kelly's Google+ account and Brian Kelly's LinkedIn profile or see a visualisation of Brian's LinkedIn contacts.

• ## Featured Events

IWMW 2014, the 18th Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Northumbria University on 16-18 July 2014.

After 17 years as a UKOLN event this year sees the event under new management with Brian Kelly, Cetis and Netskills now jointly organising the event.

The launch of the event has been announced on the UK Web Focus blog.

The Cetis 2014 conference: Building the Digital Institution will be held at Bolton University on 17-18 June 2014.

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## Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. As described in a blog post this licence applies to textual content published by the author and (unless stated otherwise) guest bloggers. Also note that on 24 October 2011 the licence was changed from CC-BY-SA to CC-BY. Comments posted on this blog will also be deemed to have been published with this licence. Please note though, that images and other resources embedded in the blog may not be covered by this licence.

## Contact Details

Brian's email address is ukwebfocus@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter using the ID briankelly. Also note that the @ukwebfocus Twitter ID provides automated alerts of new blog posts.

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Also see my about.me and Vizify profiles.

## Brian Kelly

After working at UKON for over 16 years as UK Web Focus, since 28 October 2013 I have been the Innovation Advocate at Cetis, University of Bolton.

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## Release of MathML v3 as a W3C Standard

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 29 October 2010

On 21 October 2010 the W3C made an announcement about an “important standard for making mathematics on the Web more accessible and international, especially for early mathematics education“. The press release described how “MathML 3 is the third version of a standard supported in a wide variety of applications including Web pages, e-books, equation editors, publishing systems, screen readers (that read aloud the information on a page) and braille displays, ink input devices, e-learning and computational software.”

But what about support from browser vendors?  The press release went on to describe how “MathML 3 is part of W3C’s Open Web Platform, which includes HTML5, CSS, and SVG. Browser vendors will add MathML 3 support as they expand their support for HTML5. Firefox and Camino already support MathML 2 natively, and Safari/WebKit nightly builds continue to improve. Opera supports the MathML for CSS profile of MathML 3. Internet Explorer users can install a freely-available MathPlayer plug-in. In addition, JavaScript software such as MathJax enables MathML display in most browsers without native support.

Does it work? In order to investigate I installed the Firemath extension for FireFox and the MathPlayer plugin for Internet Explorer.  I then viewed the MathML Browser Test (Presentation Markup) page using FireFox (v 4.0), Chrome, Internet Explorer (v 8) and Opera (v 10.61). The results shown using Internet Explorer version 8 are shown below, with the first and second columns containing an image of how the markup has been rendered in TeXShop and FireFox with STIK Beta Fonts and the third column showing how the markup is rendered in the browser the user is using.

A quick glance at the display on all four browsers shows that the support seems pretty good [Note following a commented I received I have noticed that the page isn't rendered in Chrome) - added 2 November 2010].  However it would take a  mathematician to ensure that the renderings of mathematical formula are acceptable.

It should also be noted that MathML 3 is part of HTML5. This means that embedding maths in Web documents should become easier, with direct import from HTML to mathematics software and vice versa.

In order to encourage takeup the W3C Math home page provides links to “A Gentle Introduction to MathML” and “MathML: Presenting and Capturing Mathematics for the Web” tutorials with “The MathML Handbook” available for purchase.

The W3C have provided a “MathML software list” together with a “MathML 3 Implementation Testing Results Summary” – which, it should be noted, has not not been updated since July 2010.

I think this announcement is of interest in the context of institutional planning for migration of document formats to richer and more open environments provided by HTML5 and associated standards such as MathML, CSS 3. etc.

Will we start to see documents containing MathML markup being uploaded to institutional repositories, I wonder? And should this format be preferred to PDFs for scientific papers containing mathematical markup?

1. ### Les Carrsaid

You can see that in the “your browser” column there are the following problems: the square root sign, the integral sign and the vector sign. If I were a mathematician, I would not want to read this stuff! Until MathML can beat (or at least equal) the visual rendering of TeX, I don’t think it’s going to get much traction from the maths and science communities. Until enough browsers support it well enough, it’s not going to get any support from anyone else either. Perhaps a Flash or Canvas solution?

• ### Jonathan Finesaid

I think SVG has got a lot going for it. In some ways it’s like PDF but for web pages. And Google’s svgweb ‘JavaScript shim’ can translate SVG into Flash on the fly. They say that SVG plus svgweb gives 95% coverage.

2. ### MathML-Unterstützung in Chromium und Firefox | Tim Schlotfeldt » E-Learningsaid

[...] 4 Aufrufe Da Brian Kelly gerade über die Verabschiedung des Standards MathML in der Version 3 gebloggt habe, ich habe mir auch mal die MathML-Unterstüzung von Chromium 9.0.565.0 (nigthly build) und Firefox [...]

3. ### Blackberry 9700said

This is the same problem which affects many industries. Web browsers on nowhere near enough capable to handle the information which we need to provide one another with. Indeed, they seem to be back in the dark ages when compared to the rest of the technology which we have in our homes and offices. Let’s just hope that there will be a leap forward in browser technology very soon.

All the best, John

4. ### David Carlislesaid

the image shows in fact that (on the examples shown) firefox rendering is pretty comparable to TeX’s. Of course using scalable fonts makes them appear far better than a bitmap image even if that image is TeX generated. Accessibility such as audio and braille support id also vastly easier from mathml than from embedded images in a web page. So html+MathML is almost always going to look better (in a browser that supports it) than html+images. The other viable alternative is pdf where of course you gain most from Tex typesetting (The pdf version of the MathML spec is set with LaTeX)

> which, it should be noted, has not not been updated since July 2010

yes sorry we’ve been a bit preoccupied getting the spec out, there are several updates planned for the website.

Of course for printed medium TeX still beats printing from a browser easily.

As for no one using it, we’ll see but NIST’s DLMF (http://dlmf.nist.gov/)
and mathscinet (aka online math reviews) are two big users (mathscinet uses tex markup converted on the fly to mathml via mathjax) http://www.ams.org/mathscinet/help/about.html

5. ### Jonathan Finesaid

You said that you looked at the MathML test page in Google Chrome. When I looked at it in Chrome (XP, Chrome 7.0.517.41) I found that the MathML was not being rendered.

• ### Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus)said

Oops, you seem to be right – the MathML isn’t being rendered in Chrome. Strange, I thought I tested it. Sorry for the confusion. I’ll update the post.

6. ### Mark Greenfield - Higher Education Web Consulting » The Axe Man Commeth Preview #higheredlivesaid

[...] Release of MathML v3 as a W3C Standard [...]