Design Science Proposal to Microsoft to Help
STEM (Scientific/Technical/Engineering/Mathematical) Publishers
Work with Office 2007 Documents
August 28, 2007
Design Science, Inc.
Top scientific publishers like Science and Nature currently do
not accept author submissions in Microsoft Word 2007's new document format.
Their publishing workflows are designed to handle earlier Word formats
containing MathType or Equation Editor equations, rather than the OMML (Office
Math Markup Language) equations. Other changes in Word's document format also
cause difficulties. This proposal describes several features to be added to the
next version of Design Science's MathType for Windows product that will help
these publishers better handle author submissions in Office 2007's new document
format. These features will also help authors who use Office 2007 collaborate
with other authors that use an earlier version of Office. Microsoft's assistance
is requested in support of this effort.
The main feature to be added to MathType is conversion of OMML equations to
MathType's equation format. This requirement is driven by the following, in
order of importance:
- Scientific publishers' workflows rely on MathType's ability to save
equations as EPS, GIF, or MathML.
- Some publishers have editorial departments that rely on MathType to edit
- Authors that prefer to use MathType as their equation editor may want to
collaborate with others that prefer OMML.
The conversion of OMML equations to MathType format will be implemented
within the MathType product itself. However, there are a number of issues that
require Microsoft's assistance and, possibly, bug fixes and small enhancements
to Word 2007. Mostly, the need for assistance stems from the fact that OMML
equations make extensive use of Microsoft's new Cambria Math font. For this
reason, MathType needs to be able to support Cambria Math or some characters in
OMML equations may not convert properly. Cambria Math has a few characteristics
that make it a unique font: it makes extensive use of Unicode Plane 1 codepoints
and contains special math formatting features. These are supported by a new, undocumented OpenType
MathType equations are currently saved as graphical images in Windows
Metafile Format (WMF). Unfortunately, WMF is a very old format and doesn't
support Unicode at all, let alone Plane 1, and, therefore, most characters in
Cambria Math cannot be displayed in MathType's WMF equations. Microsoft Windows
superseded the WMF format many years ago with the Enhanced Metafile Format
(EMF), which does support Unicode. Unfortunately, MathType cannot produce its
equations in the EMF format until Microsoft Word implements a mechanism for
aligning such equations with the text baseline in Word documents. Currently,
this baseline information is communicated to Word and other applications via a
comment in the WMF data. It could be done this way in EMF as well or, even
better, as a new COM interface for the purpose which would be supported by Word.
We request that Microsoft implement a new baseline alignment mechanism in Word
that will allow MathType to produce equations as EMF.
Presumably, it is Microsoft's intention to create other math fonts that make
use of the new math formatting mechanisms introduced with Cambria Math. In
addition, as OpenType is a public standard, other font vendors should be allowed
to create math fonts that implement the extended standard and applications, such
as MathType, should be allowed to support them. In fact, the
STIX organization has expressed
interest in making their fonts compatible with OMML equations. This requires, as
far as we know, that their fonts make use of the new OpenType MATH table
addition, a recent presentation by Microsoft's Murray Sargent at the
TypeCon typography conference implies that
a new Windows component, MathFont.dll, may also be required to support Cambria
Math and other fonts built to this new standard. We request that Microsoft make
public all information on their new MATH font tables and other OpenType
extensions implemented in Cambria Math. We also request that any software
required to work with the new fonts be freely redistributable by application
vendors. Finally, we request that Microsoft make any licensing terms required to
use this information and software as liberal
While MathType 6.0 generally works well with Office 2007, our customers have
reported a number of small problems that affect their work. Details can be
provided. We request that Microsoft fix these problems:
- In certain circumstances, dragging a MathType equation from one table cell
to another crashes Word.
- Characters typed immediately to the right of a previously created MathType
equation are inserted with an incorrect baseline.
- MathType commands moved from the MathType Tab on Word 2007's Ribbon to the
Quick Access Toolbar sometimes disappear later.
- When MathML is present on the clipboard, Word's Paste Special should offer
"MathML Presentation" as an option and choosing that option should create an
Design Science expects to continue to support STEM publishers and their
authors, as well as scientists, engineers, and educators in general, with
software tools for mathematical publishing. We hope that Microsoft will continue
to support us and our mutual customers in that effort. A positive answer to the
requests outlined in this paper will go a long way to helping in that effort. We
look forward to Microsoft's response.