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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: hyperdoc

From: C Y
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: hyperdoc
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 17:36:24 -0800 (PST)

--- Bob McElrath <address@hidden> wrote:

> The list of prerequisites for running axiom is huge, and getting
> worse it seems!

This will be an eternal struggle.  Taking advantage of "standard"
external tools is a good way to integrate well with the rest of the
world and accomplish things that would take too much work internally,
but by the same token you are more reliant on those other parts being
present and implimented correctly.

Linux et. al. take this much further than Windows tends to, just by the
nature of the systems (free license, free updates, no extra cost to
include other people's software, open code).  

> 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.

Heh - even I agree there.  Perhaps it would be best to acknowledge the
reality that if one wants to take advantage of all the vast
possibilities of open source software, that's going to be at odds with
having the full power of the system available on all platforms,
particularly Windows, as a single package.  Surely power users who are
willing and able to use the full web-like setup, instead of just a
TeXmacs or Mathematica like document interface, would be willing to set
it up or at the very least boot a live Linux CD loaded with the full
set of Axiom tools and dependancies. 

> 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.

Right - the system is flexible.  I think the important thing to do is
think about how much time should be invested (or rather people are
interested in investing) in getting the whole spectrum of tools running
on Windows.  Personally I think the marginal gain is minimal - most end
users will likely be perfectly content, and probably more comfortable
in the beginning, with a basic document interface.  Those who are
wanting to go the extra mile surely would also be able to investigate
Linux or FreeBSD or at least a live cd of some sort.
> 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.

Um - how much of the expressive power of LaTeX do we want to duplicate
or express in Axiom?  If people want to do LaTeX documents with Axiom
embedded in them, isn't that the more logical approach than trying to
get what is essentially a web rendering of LaTeX documents going?

Probably the relevant question here is - what is the intended use of
this system?  How much of the full power of LaTeX would be needed for
the uses this system is intended for?

Not that I'm qualified to discuss most of this :-).  I tend to like my
Mathematica style workbook for doing the math, and then if I want it
online I convert it to a web format.  Collaborative work via wiki
sounds interesting, but I suspect many old fogies like me will be slow
to adapt to it.  ;-)   


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