RE: embedded equation component manifesto (long)

Comments below.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kevin Cowtan []
> Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 8:00 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: embedded equation component manifesto (long)
> I absolutely agree about the importance of this component and with the
> bulk of you coments about how to do it right. I practice 
> though I think
> it might be possible to acheive an approximation to your 
> ideas with less
> complexity and still be better than current systems.

I think I understood all your points below and have no significant issue
with them, I failed to see anything you mentioned that reduces complexity.
Perhaps I missed something.

> My background is as a frequent LaTeX user. LaTeX does most 
> (but not all
> things right). Other systems I have used include Wordperfect and MS
> Word. WP borrows heailty from LaTeX and so does quite a good 
> job, but I
> am always frustrated that I can't lauch straight into an equation
> without touching the mouse. Word is hopeless, requiring mouse 
> actions at
> every step, as well as laying out the result badly.

This is not strictly true as you can associate a keystroke of your choosing
to insert an equation. Editing an existing equation can be done via the
keyboard as well. However, Word doesn't document much about Equation Editor
so it isn't easy to discover how to do this.

> Dealing with your points in turn:
> 1. Baseline Alignment
> and
> 2. Side Bearings
> clearly need to be handled in the equation component as something like
> the Java 'insets', which can then be passed to parent app.

Sounds like the right word. I imagine an interface in which the container
asks an embedded object for a bounding rectangle, baseline position, and
side bearings (same as "insets" but the term used by typographers) all in
one method. An equation object's implementation of this method would get an
"embedded object site" interface from the container that it uses to get the
ambient font and size info at the point in the document in which the
equation is embedded.

> 3. Auto line spacing
> and
> 4. Ambient font
> The current font and size of the area into which the equation must fit
> can be passed to the component, which will use this info in sizing the
> equation, font selection, and in setting the insets. For getting the
> result to look 'just right' in the case when a large symbol 
> is required
> will probably require a dialogue to override some of this.

If what you mean by this is that there are other choices the user must make
in creating an equation, I agree. If not, I don't know what you mean.

> 5. Cross-Page and Column Embedded Objects
> and
> 7. Cross-Equation Alignment
> I'm not sure the LaTeX approach of stackable equations is necessarily
> the right one. Might it not be more general to allow an extra set of
> tabs on the ruler, the positions of which may be passed to 
> the embedded
> object. All equations are then entered singly. This allows both LaTeX
> style eqnarrays, but also equations separated by paragraph text to be
> aligned, and stacks can be broken across a page boundary if necessary.
> The ruler can be changed whenever the user desires. This 
> seems a simple
> solution, with the only setback being that the '=' is not positioned
> automatically. On the other hand, there will be greater consistency
> between equations throughout a document.

I think there are many nuances possible in the design of an alignment
mechanism. My point was that all of them require some sort of setting that
is manipulated by the user at the container level.

> My biggest wish for such a component remains that I can type 
> an equation
> directly into text without taking my hands off the keyboard.

I totally agree. I actually thought about adding this to the list but it was
already too long and I was tired of typing.
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