Choosing an authoring tool

(Excerpt from "The MathML Handbook" by Pavi Sandhu)

We have described the features of several different applications that you can use to author MathML. However, this variety can be confusing for an author trying to decide which application to use. This section evaluates the strengths and limitations of the different MathML authoring applications, so you can decide which one is best suited to your needs.

The MathML authoring tools can be broadly classified into three groups, in increasing order of complexity and cost. At the low end of the spectrum are Amaya and EzMath, which offer minimal features but are freely available. Amaya can be used for authoring presentation MathML and EzMath for content MathML. These applications don't provide many frills and features, but they are simple low-cost options for somebody who just wants to experiment with MathML and does not need to author a large number of equations.

The next category of tools is suitable for authors who produce a greater volume of technical content and already have a familiar application for producing their documents such as Microsoft Word. For such authors, MathType and WebEQ are good solutions. MathType is, of course, ideal for Word users, both for inserting individual formulas into a document and for converting the eventual document into HTML+MathML format for displaying on the Web. MathType provides excellent support for controlling the fine details of typeset equations in a Word document, such as alignment, spacing, and automatic numbering. However, MathType cannot produce content MathML and is unsuitable for large-scale processing of multiple documents.

WebEQ is more versatile and powerful than MathType, at least as far as their MathML capabilities are concerned. WebEQ lacks some features, found in MathType, specifically for integrating equations into a word-processing document. However, it is well suited for Web developers who want to create and maintain interactive Web sites that feature mathematical content. This is because WebEQ offers a whole suite of tools not just for authoring MathML but for processing documents and for adding interactive equations to a Web site. In addition to the Editor and Publisher applications discussed in this chapter, WebEQ includes two Java applets called Viewer Control and Input Control for displaying interactive equations and authoring mathematical notation in a Web page, respectively. The Viewer Control and Input Control components are covered in detail under WebEQ.

The last category of MathML authoring tools consists of applications like Mathematica, Publicon, and Scientific Word, which provide a full-featured document-authoring solution. They can be used to create complete documents that integrate text, equations, graphics, and other elements. Using a menu command, you can then convert the document into HTML+MathML format for display on the Web.

Publicon and Mathematica both provide support for authoring individual MathML expressions as well as complete documents. Publicon includes document palettes for authoring papers in the style of specific journals and has a more elaborate graphical interface for applying styles and creating mathematical notation. Mathematica, on the other hand, is a full-fledged computer algebra system, and using it just for authoring MathML is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. However, Mathematica is an excellent authoring tool for people who create a large volume of technical documents. The only downside of Mathematica is that it is relatively expensive. It is, however, available on more affordable terms through a company-wide or campus-wide license and is hence a good solution for adoption by an entire organization.


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