One challenge for math is laying out the actual equations like this integral below.
The tool of choice of for many in the math/science industry is the equation editor which allows you to insert text and symbols into different “layouts” (e.g. an integral, fraction, matrix, etc). See the image at the bottom. It’s a lot quicker than Illustrator. And an equation editor can usually export the output in different graphics formats and some can export LaTeX and MathML (Ooooh!) I chose Math Magic primarily because it works on a Mac as well as Windows, but it’s similar to other tools I have seen including the one bundled with Microsoft Office.
The one quirk that I previously developed methods to insert Unicode symbols via the Character Pallette or custom math symbol keyboard. Another time you might need to use non-Math Magic character insertion if you are using an especially exotic character (this happened to me once).
However, when I tried the Character Palette on MathMagic, the result was the square box of death meaning the character did not “exist.” Fortunately…I realized that it was a font issue. As soon as I switched to a dedicated Math Unicode font like Unicode Symbols, all was well. But now I wonder about the default font.
The quirky fonts are not a problem if you’re exporting an image or working with text, but if it’s MathML it could be problematic (but maybe I’m being paranoid). In any case, I sense a future MathML test coming.
Typical Equation Editor Interface
Postscript: The MathML Test
The good news was that I was able to export a Math ML file and get the result to work in another HTML page. I should note that the <?xml…?> does not specify UTF-8 encoding. In theory, this shouldn’t be a problem, but I might add the “encoding=UTF-8″ part to make sure nothing weird is happening. The file also includes a custom <annotation encoding=”MathMagic”> tag which is filled with vendor-generated code. I’m not sure what this does, but I will probably leave it in…just in case