You may have heard of or seen some other schemes for getting
mathematics on the Web, like
or the more recent
Java script, WebEQ.
Why use a new system like MINSE instead?
Objectives of this project
Clearly there is a need to be able to communicate mathematical and
scientific ideas on the Web, but in many cases these concepts need to
be represented symbolically. The sad fact is that practically every
major browser manufacturer feels that mathematics support isn't
important enough to their market share to bother implementing it (or
perhaps that blinking, coloured, or scrolling text is more
important than symbolic expression).
MINSE tries to fill this need with a solution that is easy to use
immediately, but still leaves room for extension. One of the most important
objectives is for the communication of such concepts to be accessible to
as many people as possible, and to have it work right now. The only way
to get equations to reliably show up in graphical browsers is to insert
images, and in character-based browsers is to insert preformatted text.
If you want to communicate with mathematics on the Web now, the only
options (i know of) other than MINSE are:
- Putting your raw PostScript online. This works
only as long as your reader has either a PostScript printer or the means
to view PostScript files, as with GhostScript, for example -- and the
patience to wait for the download. In this case, however, your entire
document is encapsulated in the PostScript file and immutable.
- Writing HTML 3.0 math. As far as i can tell,
only Arena supports this, and the HTML 3.0 draft has expired by now.
- LaTEX-based packages like
These are programs that try to convert documents from the popular
LaTEX mathematics typesetting program to HTML format. Here are some
of the differences between LaTEX conversion
a project at the UMN
Geometry Center. This is a Java applet that you download and run
in your browser, which renders the equations in your browser window.
Here are some of the differences between WebEQ
If you need to put up a big LaTEX document on the
web and you've already got all the necessary tools installed, it's
probably worth the effort to try running it through a converter.
But for quick and direct expression when you're authoring anything
new, or if you're looking for something that will remain useful to
the widest possible audience, i think MINSE has many advantages.
- The expressions are right in your HTML document. There are no
other files to edit or deal with.
Making changes is easy.
- Writing expressions with MINSE is
simple and concise.
- You don't need to install any software to
use MINSE. All the work is done by the polymediator.
- Your readers don't need to install any software
to use MINSE. All the work is done by the polymediator.
- You can look at your HTML source code and know what it will look
like. You can preview it immediately if you want to be sure.
- You don't need a workstation to use MINSE.
All you need is a text editor, which you can find just as easily on
a Macintosh or a DOS machine as on a Unix box.
- WebEQ is better at scaling. Images produced by the renderer in this
implementation don't break lines or scale when you change the size of the
- ...but this is just the first implementation, and
since MINSE expressions contain the semantics of the communication,
they will last while implementations may come and go. While support is
being developed for other media or for other browsers, you can be confident
that you don't need to change any of your documents to chase a moving target.
copyright © by Ping (e-mail) updated Wed 19 Jun 1996 at 03:11 JST
since Mon 17 Jun 1996