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MathML in HTML5: Finally cross-browser HTML+MathML!

Web applications are a big success

The past decade and a half has seen innovation by all the browser manufacturers. The rise of AJAX and increases in JavaScript speed and reliability have made the JavaScript-in-a-browser platform very important and has great promise for delivery of content and applications on PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. Unfortunately, this innovation and growth has come at a cost. It has resulted in all kinds of incompatibilities between browser platforms, security holes, and the need to install browser plug-ins to provide certain kinds of functionality.

HTML5 is the new level playing field

Realizing the need to rationalize and standardize this new powerful browser platform, the browser community created HTML5 and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has subsequently taken up its cause. HTML5 takes the best of all the functionality introduced by various browser companies and other parties and consolidates it in a single rational and consistent standard. Although the W3C standardization process might take years, browser makers are not waiting. They all implement HTML5 to a high degree in their latest versions.

MathML is part of HTML5

Until the advent of HTML5, MathML was not officially supported in HTML. Internet Explorer supported MathML in HTML but in a Microsoft-specific way. MathML is supported in XHTML but Internet Explorer (up until IE9) did not support XHTML and this was one of the many reasons it did not catch on. For people interested in math and science communication, one of the most exciting aspects of HTML5 is that it includes MathML, thereby making math part of the standard HTML platform.

All the browser makers are behind HTML5

All the major browser vendors have pledged support for HTML5: Mozilla (Firefox), Google (Chrome), Apple (Safari), Opera, Microsoft (Internet Explorer). Microsoft has long been seen as failing to implement web standards or harboring incompatibilities. However, Microsoft seems to have had a change of heart with HTML5 and has pledged its support. Now Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 has added HTML5 support!

Internet Explorer has had good MathML support for years

Internet Explorer has had the best MathML support for years via our free MathPlayer plug-in. MathPlayer features high-quality math typesetting, supports both Presentation and Content MathML, and turns math into speech for accessibility via screen readers. In 2010, almost 290 million equations were displayed by MathPlayer and over 7 million equations were spoken via assistive technologies.

HTML5 with MathML gives us math in all browsers and devices!

Since MathML is part of HTML5 and HTML5 is now supported by all modern browsers, websites can finally serve standards-compliant HTML pages with MathML equations. Web browsers used on personal computers either support MathML directly or they can rely on MathJax, an open source MathML display engine. MathJax uses native MathML rendering in browsers that have it and JavaScript-generated HTML and CSS in browser that don't such as those in smartphones, tablets, and ebook readers.

MathPlayer 3.0 in public preview soon

We are hard at work on a new version of MathPlayer that will feature:

  • Internet Explorer 9 support. (It will continue to support IE 6.0 and later.)
  • MathML in HTML5 support.
  • MathML 3 support.

We will make MathPlayer 3.0 available soon in the form of a public preview.

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