To be effective, MathML must work well with a wide variety of renderers, processors, translators and editors. This chapter raises some of the interface issues involved in generating and rendering MathML. Since MathML exists primarily to encode mathematics in Web documents, perhaps the most important interface issues relate to embedding MathML in [HTML4] and [XHTML], and in any newer HTML when it appears.
There are three kinds of interface issues that arise in embedding MathML in other XML documents. First, MathML markup must be recognized as valid embedded XML content, and not as an error. This issue could be seen primarily as a question of managing namespaces in XML [Namespaces]. However, the implementation of XML namespaces and their management has not been well supported by recent commercial software. As a result, other mechanisms have appeared to deal with 'foreign content' in XML document types.
Second, in the case of HTML/XHTML, MathML rendering must be integrated with browser software. Some browsers already implement MathML rendering natively, and one can expect more browsers will do so in the future. At the same time, other browsers have developed infrastructure to facilitate the rendering of MathML and other embedded XML content by third-party software or other built-in technology. Examples of this built-in technology are the sophisticated CSS rendering engines now available, and the powerful implementations of JavaScript/ECMAScript that are becoming common. Using these browser-specific mechanisms generally requires additional interface markup of some sort to activate them. In the case of CSS, there is a special restricted form of MathML3 [MathMLforCSS] that is tailored for use with CSS rendering engines that support CSS 2.1 [CSS21]. This restricted profile of MathML3 does not offer the full expressiveness of MathML3, but it provides a portable simpler form that can be rendered acceptably on the screen by modern CSS engines.
Third, other tools for generating and processing MathML must be able to communicate. A number of MathML tools have been or are being developed, including editors, translators, computer algebra systems, and other scientific software. However, since MathML expressions tend to be lengthy, and prone to error when entered by hand, special emphasis must be made to ensure that MathML can easily be generated by user-friendly conversion and authoring tools, and that these tools work together in a dependable, platform-independent, and vendor-independent way.
This chapter applies to both content and presentation markup, and describes
a particular processing model for the semantics
, annotation
and annotation-xml
elements described in
Section 5.1 Annotation Framework.
Within an XML document supporting namespaces [XML],
[Namespaces], the preferred method to recognize
MathML markup is by the identification of the math
element
in the MathML namespace by the use of the MathML namespace
URI http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML
.
The MathML namespace URI is the recommended method to embed MathML within [XHTML] documents. However, some user-agents may require supplementary information to be available to allow them to invoke specific extensions to process the MathML markup.
Markup-language specifications that wish to embed MathML may require special conditions to recognize MathML markup that are independent of this recommendation. The conditions should be similar to those expressed in this recommendation, and the local names of the MathML elements should remain the same as those defined in this recommendation.
Although rendering MathML expressions often takes place in a Web browser, other MathML processing functions take place more naturally in other applications. Particularly common tasks include opening a MathML expression in an equation editor or computer algebra system. It is important therefore to specify the encoding names by which MathML fragments should be identified.
Outside of those environments where XML namespaces are recognized, media types [RFC2045], [RFC2046] should be used if possible to ensure the invocation of a MathML processor. For those environments where media types are not appropriate, such as clipboard formats on some platforms, the encoding names described in the next section should be used.
MathML contains two distinct vocabularies: one for encoding visual presentation, defined in Chapter 3 Presentation Markup, and one for encoding computational structure, defined in Chapter 4 Content Markup. Some MathML applications may import and export only one of these two vocabularies, while others may produce and consume each in a different way, and still others may process both without any distinction between the two. The following encoding names may be used to distinguish between content and presentation MathML markup when needed.
MathML-Presentation: The instance contains presentation MathML markup only.
Media Type: application/mathml-presentation+xml
Windows Clipboard Flavor: MathML Presentation
Universal Type Identifier: public.mathml.presentation
MathML-Content: The instance contains content MathML markup only.
Media Type: application/mathml-content+xml
Windows Clipboard Flavor: MathML Content
Universal Type Identifier: public.mathml.content
MathML (generic): The instance may contain presentation MathML markup, content MathML markup, or a mixture of the two.
File name extension: .mml
Media Type: application/mathml+xml
Windows Clipboard Flavor: MathML
Universal Type Identifier: public.mathml
See Appendix B Media Types Registrations for more details about each of these encoding names.
MathML 2 specified the predefined encoding values MathML
,
MathML-Content
, and MathML-Presentation
for the
encoding
attribute on the annotation-xml
element.
These values may be used as an alternative to the media type for backward
compatibility. See Section 5.1.3 Alternate representations and
Section 5.1.4 Content equivalents for details.
Moreover, MathML 1.0 suggested the media-type text/mathml
,
which has been superseded by [RFC3023].
MathML expressions are often exchanged between applications using the familiar copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop paradigms and are often stored in files or exchanged over the HTTP protocol. This section provides recommended ways to process MathML during these transfers.
The transfers of MathML fragments described in this section occur between the contexts of two applications by making the MathML data available in several flavors, often called media types, clipboard formats, or data flavors. These flavors are typically ordered by preference by the producing application, and are typically examined in preference order by the consuming application. The copy-and-paste paradigm allows an application to place content in a central clipboard, with one data stream per clipboard format; a consuming application negotiates by choosing to read the data of the format it prefers. The drag-and-drop paradigm allows an application to offer content by declaring the available formats; a potential recipient accepts or rejects a drop based on the list of available formats, and the drop action allows the receiving application to request the delivery of the data in one of the indicated formats. An HTTP GET transfer, as in [HTTP11], allows a client to submit a list of acceptable media types; the server then delivers the data using the one of the indicated media types. An HTTP POST transfer, as in [HTTP11], allows a client to submit data labelled with a media type that is acceptable to the server application.
Current desktop platforms offer copy-and-paste and drag-and-drop
transfers using similar architectures, but with varying naming schemes
depending on the platform. HTTP transfers are all based on media types.
This section specifies what transfer types applications should provide,
how they should be named, and how they should handle the special
semantics
, annotation
, and annotation-xml
elements.
To summarize the three negotiation mechanisms, the following paragraphs will describe transfer flavors, each with a name (a character string) and content (a stream of binary data), which are offered, accepted, and/or exported.
The names listed in Section 6.2.3 Names of MathML Encodings are the exact strings that should be used to identify the transfer flavors that correspond to the MathML encodings. On operating systems that allow such, an application should register their support for these flavor names (e.g. on Windows, a call to RegisterClipboardFormat, or, on the Macintosh platform, declaration of support for the universal type identifier in the application descriptor).
When transferring MathML, an application MUST ensure the content of the data transfer is a well-formed XML instance of a MathML document type. Specifically:
The instance MAY begin with an XML declaration, e.g. <?xml version="1.0">
The instance MUST contain exactly one root math
element.
The instance MUST declare the MathML namespace
on the root math
element.
The instance MAY use a schemaLocation
attribute
on the math
element to indicate the location of the MathML
schema that describes the MathML document type to which the instance
conforms. The presence of the schemaLocation
attribute
does not require a consumer of the MathML instance to obtain or use
the referenced schema.
The instance SHOULD use numeric character references (e.g. α) rather than character entity names (e.g. α) for greater interoperability.
The instance MUST specify the character encoding, if it uses an encoding other than UTF-8, either in the XML declaration, or by the use of a byte-order mark (BOM) for UTF-16-encoded data.
An application that transfers MathML markup SHOULD adhere to the following conventions:
An application that supports pure presentation markup and/or pure content markup SHOULD offer as many of these flavors as it has available.
An application that only exports one MathML flavor SHOULD name it
MathML
if it is unable to determine a more specific flavor.
If an application is able to determine a more specific flavor, it SHOULD
offer both the generic and specific transfer flavors, but it SHOULD only
deliver the specific flavor if it knows that the recipient supports it.
For an HTTP GET transfer, for example, the specific transfer types for
content and presentation markup should only be returned if they are
included in the the HTTP Accept
header sent by the client.
An application that exports the two specific transfer flavors SHOULD
export both the content and presentation transfer flavors, as well as
the generic flavor, which SHOULD combine the other two flavors using
a top-level MathML semantics
element
(see Section 5.4.1 Top-level Parallel Markup).
When an application exports a MathML fragment whose only child of the
root element is a semantics
element, it SHOULD offer, after
the above flavors, a transfer flavor for each annotation
or
annotation-xml
element, provided the transfer flavor can be
recognized and named based on the encoding
attribute value,
and provided the annotation key is (the default)
alternate-representation.
The transfer content for each annotation should contain the character data
in the specified encoding (for an annotation
element), or a
well-formed XML fragment (for an annotation-xml
element), or
the data that results by requesting the URL given by the src
attribute (for an annotation reference).
As a final fallback, an application MAY export a version of
the data in a plain-text flavor (such as text/plain
,
CF_UNICODETEXT
, UnicodeText
, or
NSStringPboardType
). When an application has multiple
versions of an expression available, it may choose the version to
export as text at its discretion. Since some older MathML processors
expect MathML instances transferred as plain text to begin with a
math
element, the text version SHOULD generally omit the XML
declaration, DOCTYPE declaration, and other XML prolog material that
would appear before the math
element. Similarly, the BOM
SHOULD be omitted for Unicode text encoded as UTF-16. The Unicode
text version of the data SHOULD always be the last flavor exported,
following the principle that exported flavors should be ordered with
the most specific flavor first and the least specific flavor last.
To determine whether a MathML instance is pure content markup or
pure presentation markup, the math
, semantics
,
annotation
and annotation-xml
elements should be
regarded as belonging to both the presentation and content markup
vocabularies. The math
element is treated in this way
because it is required as the root element in any MathML transfer.
The semantics
element and its child annotation elements
comprise an arbitrary annotation mechanism within MathML, and are
not tied to either presentation or content markup. Consequently,
an application that consumes MathML should always process these four
elements, even if it only implements one of the two vocabularies.
It is worth noting that the above recommendations allow agents
that produce MathML to provide binary data for the clipboard, for
example in an image or other application-specific format. The sole
method to do so is to reference the binary data using the src
attribute of an annotation, since XML character data does not allow
for the transfer of arbitrary byte-stream data.
While the above recommendations are intended to improve interoperability between MathML-aware applications that use these transfer paradigms, it should be noted that they do not guarantee interoperability. For example, references to external resources (e.g. stylesheets, etc.) in MathML data can cause interoperability problems if the consumer of the data is unable to locate them, as can happen when cutting and pasting HTML or other data types. An application that makes use of references to external resources is encouraged to make users aware of potential problems and provide alternate ways to obtain the referenced resources. In general, consumers of MathML data that contains references they cannot resolve or do not understand should ignore the external references.
An e-Learning application has a database of quiz questions, some of which contain MathML. The MathML comes from multiple sources, and the e-Learning application merely passes the data on for display, but does not have sophisticated MathML analysis capabilities. Consequently, the application is not aware whether a given MathML instance is pure presentation or pure content markup, nor does it know whether the instance is valid with respect to a particular version of the MathML schema. It therefore places the following data formats on the clipboard:
Flavor Name | Flavor Content |
---|---|
MathML |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">...</math> |
Unicode Text |
<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">...</math> |
An equation editor on the Windows platform is able to generate pure presentation markup, valid with respect to MathML 3. Consequently, it exports the following flavors:
Flavor Name | Flavor Content |
---|---|
MathML Presentation |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">...</math> |
Tiff |
(a rendering sample) |
Unicode Text |
<math xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML">...</math> |
A schema-based content management system on the Mac OS X platform contains multiple MathML representations of a collection of mathematical expressions, including mixed markup from authors, pure content markup for interfacing to symbolic computation engines, and pure presentation markup for print publication. Due to the system's use of schemata, markup is stored with a namespace prefix. The system therefore can transfer the following data:
Flavor Name | Flavor Content |
---|---|
public.mathml.presentation |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> ... <mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
public.mathml.content |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:apply> ... <mml:apply> </mml:math> |
public.mathml |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> <mml:apply> ... content markup within presentation markup ... </mml:apply> ... </mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
public.plain-text.tex |
{x \over x-1} |
public.plain-text |
<mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> ... <mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
A similar content management system is web-based and delivers MathML representations of mathematical expressions. The system is able to produce MathML-Presentation, MathML-Content, TeX and pictures in TIFF format. In web-pages being browsed, it could produce a MathML fragment such as the following:
<mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML"> <mml:semantics> <mml:mrow>...</mml:mrow> <mml:annotation-xml encoding="MathML-Content">...</mml:annotation-xml> <mml:annotation encoding="TeX">{1 \over x}</mml:annotation> <mml:annotation encoding="image/tiff" src="formula3848.tiff"/> </mml:semantics> </mml:math>
A web-browser on the Windows platform that receives such a fragment and tries to export it as part of a drag-and-drop action, can offer the following flavors:
Flavor Name | Flavor Content |
---|---|
MathML Presentation |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> ... <mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
MathML Content |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:apply> ... <mml:apply> </mml:math> |
MathML |
<?xml version="1.0"?> <mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> <mml:apply> ... content markup within presentation markup ... </mml:apply> ... </mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
TeX |
{x \over x-1} |
CF_TIFF |
(the content of the picture file, requested from formula3848.tiff) |
CF_UNICODETEXT |
<mml:math xmlns:mml="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation= "http://www.w3.org/Math/XMLSchema/mathml3/mathml3.xsd"> <mml:mrow> ... <mml:mrow> </mml:math> |
MathML is usually used in combination with other markup languages. The most typical case is perhaps the use of MathML within a document-level markup language, such as XHTML or DocBook. It is also common that other object-level markup languages are also included in a compound document format, such as the W3C XHTML+MathML+SVG profile. Other common use cases include mixing other markup within MathML. For example, an authoring tool might insert an element representing a cursor position or other state information within MathML markup, so that an author can pick up editing where he or she left off.
Most document markup languages have some concept of an inline
equation, (or graphic, object, etc.) so there is a typically a natural
and well-defined way to incorporate MathML instances into the content
model. However, in the other direction, embedding of markup within
MathML is not so clear cut, since in many MathML elements, the role of
child elements is defined by position. For example, the first
child of an apply
must be an operator, and the second child
of an mfrac
is the denominator. The proper behavior when
foreign markup appears in such contexts is problematic. Even when such
behavior can be defined in a particular context, it presents an
implementation challenge for generic MathML processors.
For this reason, the default MathML schema does not allow foreign markup elements to be included within MathML instances. However, a lax schema is also provided for use in specific compound document formats where the behavior of mixed markup can be well-defined, and where the implementation of specialized user agents can be justified. Note that this situation is not uncommon, particularly when the extent of mixed markup to be allowed is minimal.
In the default schema profile, elements from other namespaces are not allowed, but attributes from other namespaces are permitted. MathML processors that encounter unknown XML markup should behave as follows:
An attribute from a non-MathML namespace should be silently ignored.
An element from a non-MathML namespace should be treated
as an error, except in an annotation-xml
element.
If the element is a child of a presentation element, it should be
handled as described in Section 3.3.5 Error Message <merror>
.
If the element is a child of a content element, it should be
handled as described in Section 4.2.9 Error Markup <cerror>
.
For example, if the second child of an mfrac
element is an
unknown element, the fraction should be rendered with a denominator
that indicates the error.
In the lax schema profile, elements from non-MathML namespaces are allowed in token elements, but not in other elements. This restriction on the location of elements from other namespaces largely eliminates the issue of positionally defined roles for elements in MathML, while still providing some flexibility for compound documents. Attributes from other namespaces are also allowed. MathML processors that encounter unknown markup should behave as follows:
An unrecognized XML attribute should be silently ignored.
An unrecognized element in a MathML token element should be silently ignored.
An element from a non-MathML namespace should be treated
as an error, except in an annotation-xml
element.
If the element is a child of a presentation element, it should be
handled as described in Section 3.3.5 Error Message <merror>
.
If the element is a child of a content element, it should be
handled as described in Section 4.2.9 Error Markup <cerror>
.
Considerations about mixing markup vocabularies in compound documents arise when a compound document type is first designed. But once the document type is fixed, it is not generally practical for specific software tools to further modify the content model to suit their needs. However, it is still frequently the case that such tools may need to persist additional information within a MathML instance. Since MathML is most often generated by authoring tools, a particularly common and important case is where an authoring tool needs to persist information about its internal state along with a MathML expression, so an author can resume editing from a previous state. For example, placeholders may be used to indicate incomplete parts of an expression, or a cursor position within an expression may need to be persisted.
An application that needs to persist private data within a MathML expression should generally attempt to do so without altering the underlying content model, even in situations where it is feasible to do so. To support this requirement, regardless of what may be allowed by the content model of a particular compound document format, MathML permits the persistence of private data via the following strategies:
For small amounts of data, attributes from other namespaces are allowed on all MathML elements.
For larger amounts of data, applications may use the
semantics
element, as described in
Section 5.1 Annotation Framework.
For authoring tools and other applications that need to
associate particular actions with presentation MathML subtrees,
e.g. to mark an incomplete expression to be filled in by an author,
the maction
element may be used, as described in
Section 3.7.1 Bind Action to Sub-Expression
<maction>
.
To fully integrate MathML into XHTML, it should be possible not only to embed MathML in XHTML, as described in Section 6.2.1 Recognizing MathML in XML, but also to embed XHTML in MathML. However, the problem of supporting XHTML in MathML presents many difficulties. Therefore, at present, the MathML specification does not allow XHTML elements within a MathML expression, although this situation may be subject to change in a future revision of MathML.
In most cases, XHTML elements (headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.) either do not apply in mathematical contexts, or MathML already provides equivalent or improved functionality specifically tailored to mathematical content (tables, mathematics style changes, etc.). However, there are exceptions, such as the XHTML anchor and image elements. For the functionality provided by these elements, MathML relies on other mechanisms, such as more general XML linking and graphics recommendations being developed as part of other W3C Activities.
While the use of namespaces to embed MathML in other XML
applications is completely described by the relevant W3C
Recommendations, a certain degree of pragmatism is necessary.
Support for XML, namespaces, and rendering behaviors in
popular user agents is not currently in alignment with W3C
Recommendations. When using namespace prefixes with MathML
markup, some situations require the of use m:
as a conventional namespace prefix for MathML markup. Using
this conventional namespace prefix may provide better
compatibility in current user agents. For example:
<body> ... <m:math xmlns:m="http://www.w3.org/1998/Math/MathML"> <m:mrow>...<m:mrow> </m:math> ... </body>
Consult the W3C Math Working Group home page for compatibility and implementation suggestions for current browsers and other MathML-aware tools.
In MathML 3, an element is designated as a link by the presence of
the href
attribute. MathML has no element that corresponds
to the HTML/XHTML anchor element a.
MathML allows the href
attribute on all
elements. However, links on elements that do not correspond to any
part of a typical visual rendering should be avoided, since they will
have no effect in typical user agents.
The list of presentation markup elements that do not ordinarily have a visual rendering, and thus should not be used as linking elements, is given in the table below.
MathML elements that should not be linking elements | |
---|---|
mprescripts |
none |
malignmark |
maligngroup |
Note that MathML 2 had no direct support for linking, and followed
the W3C Recommendation "XML Linking Language" [XLink] in
defining links using an xlink:href
attribute. This situation
has changed, and MathML 3 now uses the href
attribute for
linking. However, particular compound document formats may specify
the use of XML Linking with MathML elements. User agents that
implement XML Linking in compound documents containing MathML should
continue to support the use of the xlink:href
attribute
with MathML 3.
For compound document formats that use XML Linking or other
format-specific linking mechanisms, the id
attribute should
be used to specify the location for a link into a MathML expression. The
id
attribute is allowed on all MathML elements, and its value
must be unique within a document, making it ideal for this purpose.
Apart from the introduction of new glyphs, many of the situations where one might be inclined to use an image amount to displaying labeled diagrams. For example, knot diagrams, Venn diagrams, Dynkin diagrams, Feynman diagrams and commutative diagrams all fall into this category. As such, their content would be better encoded via some combination of structured graphics and MathML markup. However, at the time of this writing, it is beyond the scope of the W3C Math Activity to define a markup language to encode such a general concept as "labeled diagrams." (See http://www.w3.org/Math for current W3C activity in mathematics and http://www.w3.org/Graphics for the W3C graphics activity.)
One mechanism for embedding additional graphical content is via the
semantics
element, as in the following example:
<semantics> <apply> <intersect/> <ci>A</ci> <ci>B</ci> </apply> <annotation-xml encoding="image/svg+xml"> <svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" viewBox="0 0 290 180"> <clipPath id="a"> <circle cy="90" cx="100" r="60"/> </clipPath> <circle fill="#AAAAAA" cy="90" cx="190" r="60" style="clip-path:url(#a)"/> <circle stroke="black" fill="none" cy="90" cx="100" r="60"/> <circle stroke="black" fill="none" cy="90" cx="190" r="60"/> </svg> </annotation-xml> <annotation-xml encoding="application/xhtml+xml"> <img xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" src="intersect.gif" alt="A intersect B"/> </annotation-xml> </semantics>
Here, the annotation-xml
elements are used to indicate alternative
representations of the MathML-content depiction of the
intersection of two sets.
The first one is in the "Scalable Vector
Graphics" format [SVG1.1]
(see [XHTML-MathML-SVG] for the definition of an XHTML profile integrating MathML and SVG), the second one uses the
XHTML img
element embedded as an XHTML fragment.
In this situation, a MathML processor can use any of these
representations for display, perhaps producing a graphical format
such as the image below.
Note that the semantics representation of this example is given
in MathML-content markup, as the first child of the
semantics
element. In this regard, it is the
representation most analogous to the alt
attribute of the
img
element in XHTML, and would likely be
the best choice for non-visual rendering.
When MathML is rendered in an environment that supports CSS [CSS2], controlling mathematics style properties with a CSS style sheet is desirable, but not as simple as it might first appear, because the formatting of MathML layout schemata is quite different from the CSS visual formatting model and many of the style parameters that affect mathematics layout have no direct textual analogs. Even in cases where there are analogous properties, the sensible values for these properties may not correspond. Because of this difference, applications that support MathML natively may choose to restrict the CSS properties applicable to MathML layout schemata to those properties that do not affect layout.
Generally speaking, the model for CSS interaction with the math style attributes runs as follows. A CSS style sheet might provide a style rule such as:
math *.[mathsize="small"] { font-size: 80% }
This rule sets the CSS font-size properties for all children of the
math
element that have the mathsize
attribute set to small.
A MathML renderer
would then query the style engine for the CSS environment, and use the
values returned as input to its own layout algorithms. MathML does
not specify the mechanism by which style information is inherited from
the environment. However, some suggested rendering rules for the
interaction between properties of the ambient style environment and
MathML-specific rendering rules are discussed in Section 3.2.2 Mathematics style attributes common to token elements, and more generally throughout Chapter 3 Presentation Markup.
It should be stressed, however, that some caution is required in writing CSS stylesheets for MathML. Because changing typographic properties of mathematics symbols can change the meaning of an equation, stylesheets should be written in a way such that changes to document-wide typographic styles do not affect embedded MathML expressions.
Another pitfall to be avoided is using CSS to provide typographic style information necessary to the proper understanding of an expression. Expressions dependent on CSS for meaning will not be portable to non-CSS environments such as computer algebra systems. By using the logical values of the new MathML 3.0 mathematics style attributes as selectors for CSS rules, it can be assured that style information necessary to the sense of an expression is encoded directly in the MathML.
MathML 3.0 does not specify how a user agent should process style information, because there are many non-CSS MathML environments, and because different users agents and renderers have widely varying degrees of access to CSS information.
CSS or analogous style sheets can specify changes to rendering properties of selected MathML elements. Since rendering properties can also be changed by attributes on an element, or be changed automatically by the renderer, it is necessary to specify the order in which changes requested by various sources should occur. The order is defined by [CSS2] cascading order taking into account precedence of non-CSS presentational hints.
While controlling all aspects of MathML formatting through CSS is problematic and many MathML layout schemata have no analogues in CSS visual formatting model, CSS as a general purpose style language is still capable of formatting representative subset of MathML. This capability can be used to provide reasonable rendering of MathML in applications that lack native MathML support, but are able to format XML using a CSS style sheet. More about this possibility and a sample CSS style sheet may be found in [MathMLforCSS].