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RE: [Axiom-developer] Style of Mathaction webpages

From: Page, Bill
Subject: RE: [Axiom-developer] Style of Mathaction webpages
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2005 01:29:35 -0500

On Thursday, February 10, 2005 12:03 PM C Y wrote:
> ...
> What I'm wondering is, with most people using "modern" browsers
> nowadays, would it be possible to have the webpages use a "math
> notebook" like style?  (Using css, xhtml, etc.)

Can you give some examples of what you mean by "math notebook"
style? Are you thinking of something like quick access to multiple
pages via "tabs"? (The Firefox browser does this rather well.)
I think the color-scheme that we use on MathAction now makes it
seem less like a notebook. Originally, Axiom commands were not
highlighted in color and the background was a plain white.

> What I'm thinking is that in essence people could create a
> Mathaction page, work in an environment like Emacs or TeXmacs
> (insofar as web page limitations allow),

This is possible now using Emacs as an external editor. There
is a little "pencil" icon that appears on each page. If your
workstation is properly configured, clicking the icon starts
Emacs with the text content of the page. After editing the
contents, closing the edit session automatically updates
the MathAction page. This kind of interaction might also be
possible using TeXmacs (I haven't tried it yet.)

Unfortunately integration of the local use of Axiom (via
Emacs or TeXmacs for example) with the web page content is
not is straight forward as one might like. The format of
the Axiom commands that are used in each system/editor is
slightly different. E.g. MathAction uses the \begin{axiom}
\end{axiom} command delimiters and TeXmacs formats the
contents of an Axiom Session in it's own way. Still it is
possible to move between these systems with a few simple
mechanical changes to the text.

> create a printable "math worksheet", and then be able to
> save a local copy which could be reloaded to Mathaction at
> some point in the future (should the one on the server be
> erased for whatever reason.)

What you are talking about here really sounds a lot like
the Doyen idea that Tim Daly has been promoting.

In this model, single-user MathAction-style interfaces are
duplicated on the desktop. It uses the same browser technology
and web server components as MathAction itself, except that
the web components are configured only for local host access.
Provided the workstation is fast enough and has enough memory,
say about a 2.4 GHz. processor with 512 Mb ram, then performance
of the graphical interface can be quite a lot faster than when
accessing MathAction over the Internet.

One user who is subscribed to this list, Peter Wurmli, has
already configured a workstation in this manner. I also have
an older machine, 277 MHz with 512 Mb ram, running Debian
which I used to experiment with the MathAction interface
in "stand-alone" mode.

To make the transfer of pages containing mathematics and Axiom
calculations between workstation and MathAction web site a
little faster and easier, it is desirable to have more
intelligent network protocols for uploading and downloading

In Doyen it is also planned to implement web-based interfaces
for many more of the available open-source scientific tools
(such as those available on the Knoppix CD/DVD). Doyen/MathAction
then serves as a standard interface to these diverse packages.

> Essentially, it would be the next logical step from the
> current capabilities - have not just a place to do calculations
> but be able to generate a presentable, printable math document
> for inclusion in reports, homework, whatever.  (Again, within
> the limits of the web.)

I think it is possible to do a quite reasonable job of document
formatting over the web. Printing is still an issue with the
Firefox and Netscape browsers (due to a problem in the support
of transparent png format image files), however Microsoft
Explorer can print these pages properly.

> Is that in line with the goals of Mathaction?  I guess what I 
> described is more of a "CAS web GUI" than a collaborative web
> site, so it might not be of interest, but I thought I'd just
> throw it out there and see what the real gurus thought.


I think you ideas are very good. I would like to make a web-
based, easy to install stand-alone version of the MathAction
interface available on Windows (as an alternative to TeXmacs).
Doing this requires solving a some simple compatibility problems
between the linux and windows versions of the ZWiki and Axiom

Bill Page.

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