[tex4ht] \bigl. and \bigr. sometimes cause problems.

Beuthe, Thomas beuthet at aecl.ca
Sun Sep 12 03:26:06 CEST 2010


>You are still wanting to be in the stone age technology.  Please throw away the raster images of math and switch on
>to MathML. TeX4ht does an >excellent job of converting LaTeX into MathML+XHTML which is what is needed to see your
>math documents on the web. As a proof of >concept, I have put in an experimental chapter of my Professor's book, 
>Cross Connections (which I am translating for him into MathML with >TeX4ht) which is available at:
>  http://download.river-valley.com/kssn/test.xml
>You need FireFox to view the documents. STIX fonts might be necessary to view MathML perfectly in FireFox.  I have 
>created the documents without any tweaking in the source files and with a simple TeX4ht configuration of, say, less 
>than 100 lines.

An excellent idea, except for some hard reality in my case.

1) The document I am dealing with is not small, and not uncomplicated.
2) Almost all of the target audience will be corporate internal, and will therefore be using IE7.
   Some may still be using IE6, and a few might of the more adventurous have upgraded (illegally
   against corporate policy) to IE8.  Virtually none will be using Firefox, and I can almost guarantee
   no one will be using Chrome.  There is no way I can ask them to load a plugin to their browser,
   and even less to ask them to load some kind of exotic (for them) STIX fonts.

As a result, I am forced to aim for the lowest common denominator, plain vanilla html with pic math wherever things
get a little complicated.

Even with these restrictions, the ability to deliver multiple content streams from one source is
a tremendous (i.e. $) advantage.

Of course I explored both the possibility of using xml and xml+mathml, but I can't say I was too happy
with the results.  As per 1) above, I really do have some big ugly math in here.  This is not mathematics,
it's engineering coupled with science we're talking about here, and multidisciplinary at that, so the nomenclature
is an absolute snarl (the roman + the greek alphabet runs out very quickly, nomenclature section alone stretches over 80 pages in pdf form), and the form of the math can get confusingly messy.

I hope this gives you an idea of what I'm faced with.

Please don't abandon the update/fix of the html+picmath aspect of TeX4ht.
It is and will still be needed for quite some time,a dn I submit these findings in the hope
they can be fixed at some time in the future and I try and also provide workarounds as well in the meantime.

As a reference: have a look at all of Wikipedia.  They are still firmly in the picmath camp.
Do they use TeX4ht for their rendering, or do they use a custom engine?
I'm a little jealous of their layout.  The in-line picmath they use is much better typeset
vertically with respect to the html...

I would love to upgrade to the use of mathml, but the reality of the situation is that we are still
bound by the limitations of the shortcomings of the MS/IE world.  Sad but true.
Maybe in 5-10 years, but not yet today.

I appreciate your blazing a trail for all of us though, and I am still pleasantly surprised at just how
well TeX4ht is working for me right now.  In fact, the last unresolvable problem I have relates to
how some of the more complicated tabular environments I have can be mis-rendered in html right now.
Unfortunately, I can't seem to isolate the problems.  The glitches I see in the main document often
cannot be reproduced when they are tested in isolation, so there must be something more complex happening
with the interaction of the rest of the document.  Strange...

All the best and thanks again for your patience for us (not by choice!) low-level users.



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