MathML Forges On

The standard for mathematical content in publishing work flows, technical writing, and math software

20 years into the web, math and science are still second class citizens on the web. While MathML is part of HTML 5, its adoption has seen ups and downs but if you look closely you can see there is more light than shadow and a great opportunity to revolutionize educational, scientific and technical communication.

Printer in 1568-ce

Somebody once compared the first 20 years of the web to the first 100 years of the printing press. It has become my favorite perspective when thinking about web standards, the web platform and in particular browser development. 100 years after Gutenberg the novel had yet to be invented, typesetting quality was crude at best and the main products were illegally copied pamphlets. Still, the printing press had revolutionized communication and enabled social change on a massive scale.

DE-Zeitungsrollenoffsetdruck by Steschke

In the near future, all our current web technology will look like Gutenberg’s original press sitting next to an offset digital printing machine.

With faster and faster release cycles it is sometimes hard to keep in mind what is important in the long run—enabling and revolutionizing human communication.

Since I joined the MathJax team in 2012, I have gained many new perspectives on MathML, the web standard for display of mathematical content, and its role in making scientific content a first class citizen on the web. But it is rather useless to talk about MathML’s potential without knowing about the state of MathML on the web. So let’s tackle that in this post.

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“More Instantly Better Vim”

Damian Conway customizes his favorite editor

Maybe you’re a hardened veteran of the editor war. Maybe you just need to make Vim do more for you. Or perhaps you just want to watch Damian Conway tell a great story with Vim as the central prop.

At OSCON 2013, Conway showed “Vim in the hands of a Real Maniac”. There’s very little I can do to add to his talk. Watch the whole thing if you’re up for a great performance, or explore the links below if you’re seeking out particular vim superpowers. He posted a tarball with the examples as well.

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Communications Far Beyond the Bounds of ASCII

20 years of Japanese (and CJKV) Information Processing

When I first started programming, the ASCII set of characters was my playground, and it was hard to imagine how computers would deal with more. Today, in an age where international transactions are ordinary and the World Wide Web lives up to its name, it’s easy to wonder why software doesn’t do a better job of handling an incredible number of characters.

Ken Lunde has followed these changes for the past two decades, chronicling them in his books and helping improve the situation directly in his work in CJKV (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) Type Development at Adobe. He recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Understanding Japanese Information Processing. We discussed that and its successor CJKV Information Processing (as well as its 1st edition) in an interview last month.

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