As I have not yet acquainted myself with your archives, please let
me apologise in advance if this comment is redundant or inapposite.
No indeed...I think this should be something of a RAQ
(Reasonably-Answerable Question :-)...
I am a mathematician, and I am dissatisfied with the tools currently
available for composing, editing and communicating mathematical text
You're not alone.
The trouble is that TeX, LaTeX etc are really aimed at type-setting
structured documents; e.g. for production of mathematical text for a
book. That is not what I am looking for. Scientific Word, Techwriter,
in fact every software package that I have so far encountered which claimed
to be an editor for mathematical text, are all obsessed with form to
the exclusion of content. They are choked with features I do not want,
Nor here, neither :-)
and run too slowly in consequence. I want a simple graphical
editor, that runs on modest personal computers, for the production of
I think there is a little conflict here between `simple' and the
requirement for mathematics. There are two connected problems for an
implementor: a) the need for a large number of glyphs from a math font
[these are all available from CM, of course] and b) the need for
multiline formatting [eg fractions, arrays etc as well as multi-line
lecture notes, or for whipping off email messages to mathematical
colleagues. May Knuth forgive me, but I am not interested in fancy
fonts or in intricate layout or in subtle kerning rules, nor in
Actually, the whole point of using LaTeX is that you don't have to
bother about these, they're done for you.
having the final output printed on paper. To use LaTeX for
mathematical on-screen jotting is like using a steam-hammer
to crack a nut.
I agree entirely...but you did also mention lecture notes: are these
for paper, or are you looking to make these available to your students
via the Web?
It may be that when HTML 3 takes off my prayers
may be answered - if it has not grown overcomplicated.
For purposes of communication and universality an SGML DTD is the
obvious way to go.
Is it a possibility that some form of support for this view can be
generated from among mathematicians, who have been suspiciously silent
the last two years about their needs/wants from HTML3. When HTML+
first broached the possibility of math in HTML, I expected either loud
cheers or scorching criticism: I saw neither (Dave, did you take any?).
I realise that my wish-list below is concerned rather with an editor's
[yummy wish-list...if only :-]
In particular here is what I want of a maths editor:-
Matters of font:
- only a minimum of editing features (e.g. no wordwrap). Essentially
one fast font, but with colour coding for styles. No proportional
spacing or anti-aliasing. The fewer choices the user has to make
about layout and style the better (leave such things to a
I think proportional spacing is essential if you want the math to be
- either elastic symbols or a kit of straight horizontals, verticals and
diagonals that tessellate together properly.
This must therefore be stored in a vectorised format in the file?
- drag and drop for arbitrary rectangular selections of characters.
This should work not only between documents, but to search/replace
dialogue box fields also, so the dialogue box field has to be
expandible vertically as well as horizontally.
- documents saveable as TeX source.
- view in either math mode (default) or underlying ASCII source.
I think what this sounds most like is a cutdown of the Scientific Word
UI, with support for structured equation editing a la SGML added.
Have you spoken to the Sci Word people about this? Or to Bill Woolf at
the American Mathematical Society?
Are you familiar with the products of the EuroMath project? I thought
they produced an editor spec (maybe even a product, but I must confess
I lost touch with them a long while back). They have an archive on an
FTP server in Denmark, I think.