[Blindmath] LaTeX to MathML (was IOS7 and math support)

Andrew Stacey andrew.stacey at math.ntnu.no
Mon Oct 7 08:49:11 UTC 2013


Susan is absolutely correct on this.  There is no way to make it possible to
convert an arbitrary TeX document to any other format than a fixed-layout one
simply because of the way that TeX works.

My system doesn't even try.  The motivation behind it was to make it easy for
someone (me) to write a document in some format that isn't fixed-layout using
my LaTeX skills.  Thus the two requirements were:

1. From the author's side: That the author already knows the desired output
format(s) and writes the document accordingly.

2. From the technology side: That the author can use the full *flexibility* of
LaTeX within the above constraint.

I write stuff using all sorts of input formats and all but LaTeX suffer from
a fundamental flaw: they are too rigid.  I want the ability to redefine
commands and environments, to do a bit of automatic text insertion, and lots
of similar things that TeX allows me to do because it is a full programming
language.

The ePubs that I linked to before are also available as webpages and PDFs.
But when I wrote them then I knew what outputs I was intending to produce and
so didn't write them with lots of stuff that was dependent on knowing exactly
where some glyph would end up on the page.

I really think that the grail of "Convert all TeX documents to ePub3 (or
whatever)" is a chimera.  What really ought to be the focus is "Make it easy
for someone to write ePub3s using their existing skills and convince them that
it's worthwhile".  Doesn't trip off the tongue quite so easily, I know, but
I think it is both a more achievable goal and actually a better one.

Andrew

On Sun, Oct 06, 2013 at 03:04:50PM -0600, Susan Jolly wrote:
> This is sort of off-topic but I wanted to remind everyone that
> converting certain subsets of LaTeX, such as itex, to MathML is MUCH
> easier than converting any arbitrary valid LaTeX document to MathML.
> (The same comment applies if the target is braille math rather than
> MathML.) One major reason is that LaTeX includes a macro language.
> To my knowledge tex4ht is the only application which is designed to
> convert general LaTeX documents and even it isn't perfect.  I've
> never tried to use tex4ht myself but I understand using it requires
> some investment of time to acquire the necessary expertise.
> 
> SusanJ
> 
> 
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