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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: hyperdoc

From: Bob McElrath
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: hyperdoc
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 15:39:04 -0800
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.6+20040523i

Bill Page address@hidden wrote:
> I don't think that it is necessary to dump zwiki and zope.
> It is quite possible to install and configure these to run
> only locally on a workstation. zope is a bit "heavy" as a
> workstation application but these days most machines have the
> power available to both run zope and run a web browser (while
> tying their shoelaces ... :)

It's not computer power I'm worried about, but user effort required to
get axiom working.

> So that was really the "Doyen" idea that Tim and I were
> discussing a while back - to make a version of MathAction
> (i.e. LatexWiki+Axiom) that was tailored to run on a single
> user desktop but to support all of the functionality that
> one gets via the web.

This is a cool idea.

> > Maybe hyperdoc could evolve into that server?  e.g. typing
> > hyperdoc spawns mozilla... or )help in axiom spawns mozilla
> > (or opens a new tab in your existing mozilla).
> Yes, exactly! The idea is that one can use the wiki interface
> privately.

The list of prerequisites for running axiom is huge, and getting worse
it seems!  So in the interest of having something people can download
that is functional with a minimum of effort, I think axiom (and any help
system or hyperdoc) should be decoupled from zope and zwiki.  A download
(think windoze users here) which included zope, zwiki, latex,
ghostscript, python, PIL, gcl, gcc, *and* axiom, is too much, methinks.

Of course, we can do both without a problem.  The code base would be the
same in zwiki and standalone.  I now have a that does
90% of the processing (I have rewritten the majority of StructuredText),
and this can be distributed with axiom (with the and that will inherit from  These are
the same files that are used by zope/zwiki.

> Actually, completing the development of a "desktop MathAction"
> is coming higher up on my todo list now that we have the Windows
> version of Axiom (mostly) in hand. In fact I think I might try to
> set it up on Windows first just for the challenge of running
> LatexWiki in that environment (Zope and ZWiki both work on
> windows out-of-the-box). I would very much like to be able to
> offer this as an alternative to TeXmacs because I really like
> the idea of building on top of very reliable functionality such
> as LaTeX.

In the longer-term, do you actually want to run latex?  

I have been contemplating a pagetype which is faux-latex.  That is,
reads a handful of basic latex primitives and converts them to HTML,
whithout actually calling latex itself.  It would use itex (MathML) for
equations.  This can be feature-complete, but would be a restricted
subset of latex.  Also, it would not require latex/ghostscript/PIL at
all, if the user can view XHTML+MathML...

The other way to go is to actually use latex (or tth) to process
pamphlet files to html (or XHTML+MathML).  This route is slower (because
latex is slow -- and tth is very slow), but more thorough in the case of
obtuse latex usage.  Handling \def and \newcommand should be possible
for simple cases, but not the more advanced latex programming.

One last comment...itex is a simple lex/yacc program.  It should be
possible to implement/convert to lisp or python, so that axiom or
latexwiki can natively produce MathML output, and reducing by one our
external program dependencies.  Google tells me there are many LALR
parsers out there in lisp.

Bob McElrath [Univ. of California at Davis, Department of Physics]

    "Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks 
    without knowledge, of things without parallel." -- Ambrose Bierce

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