Friday, 23 September 2011


As some of you may have seen on google+ With a bit of help, I have MathML working in Firefox Mobile on Android. The key observation (of Karl Tomlinson) was that I needed a recent version of the font I was using (dejavu serif) as older ones did not have the necessary glyphs to build up “stretchy” characters such as large brackets needed for mathematical display.

So I have added support for Firefox/Android to my javascript library for enabling mathml-in-html5 (Firefox all versions, IE+MathPlayer 6-10, Chrome, Safari, Opera are all supported to some extent).

html5mathml on googlecode

This reminded me that I never actually announced its existence, hence this posting. The javascript is maintained in a google code svn repository at html5mathml, although you might want to start with the test/example file at test1.html

The code is all freely available, It is all under the MIT licence, except for the copy of the dejavu serif font which is available under its own custom free licence, included in the distribution.


The idea is that you write a conforming html5+mathml document and just add the line:

<script src="html5mathml.js"></script>

into the head of the document, adjusting the src attribute to point to a local copy of the files downloaded from the above location. Please do use local copies, googlecode is a source repository not intended for serving production code to be used. Depending on the client browser being used, this JavaScript file may use one of two css files or the above mentioned dejavu font, all of which are available from the source repository.

Comments fixes and experiences using more browsers all welcome, either here, or in email or on the www-math list.

Comparison with MathJax

Currently the primary javascript library for enabling MathML support in browsers is MathJax, so perhaps I should offer some comparison. MathJax does far more than html5mathml, and generally speaking produces better MathML display, however it is somewhat slower and perhaps harder to set up locally (although it now has a public CDN server distribution which simplifies things greatly if access to the server can be assumed).

MathJax includes parsers for Tex-like syntax as well as MathML; this library assumes the input is MathML and relies on the browser to parse it (although includes some fixup for pre-html5 legacy browser parsing.) MathJax can be configured to do its own MathML rendering using CSS, or uses the native MathMl rendering in the browser if available. html5mathml essentially just assumes that the browser has MathML support although it does include css similar to that used in the the CSS profile for MathML. As such it loads much more quickly and reveals the MathML capabilities of the browser.

Future Plans

I try to track browser developments as far as possible (IE10 preview + MathPlayer for example is supported) but this is a spare time activity and I don't have access to all platforms, so any comments or code contributions for other platforms is always welcome. Currently the largest component is the dejavu font, probably I should subset that to just the characters needed for stretchy symbols. IE10 will no doubt require some changes once the full version comes out, and hopefully there will be a version of Chrome using the webkit MathML rendering (as now used in Safari). Similar techniques may be used to enable svg-in-html in legacy browsers that only support svg in xml. An early version of this code, handling MathML and SVG on a smaller range of browsers was discussed in a posting I made to the NAG blog last year.