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Comparison of Features

Plugin Name MathModePlugin (03apr2002) MathModePlugin (07aug2006) LatexModePlugin (05aug2006) LaTeXToMathMLPlugin
Creates image files Yes - png Yes - png Yes - png Requires (free) math fonts on client side
Rendering of images images rendered/deleted on view/preview/save. images rendered on preview/view/save. images deleted on save. images rendered/deleted on preview/save/view NA
File Storage images copied to pub dir images copied to pub dir, preventing auto-attaching images attached to topic (for non-file-system saves)
or copied to pub dir
Additional Software Required latex2html, netpbm, Digest::MD5 ImageMagick and dvipng Digest::MD5 and Image::Info,
A working LaTeX implementation ( tetex and MikTeX are two popular choices),
and (the Ghostscript package plus the 'convert' executable from either ImageMagick or GraphicsMagick) or (dvipng)
itex2MML (Free)
Incompatibilities ? ? ? a MathML enabled browser, such as Mozilla (IE using a plug-in) and fonts (free)
Other Problems Problems with transparency and other aesthetics,
"image rotation" bug
? ? May not print, depending on the browser.
Syntax ease of use limited to math and displaymath limited to math and displaymath Basically LaTeX Basically LaTeX
Other Pros   Actively maintained Actively maintained Fonts scale to text properly.
Security low ok moderately high ?

MathMode Plugin vs. LatexMode Plugin vs. LaTeXToMathML Plugin

First the disclaimer and my position, I'm not a math geek by the slightest stretch of the imagination. I had some Calculus courses about 10 years ago and remember almost none of it. I don't know anything about Latex or MathMl. However, many of my TWiki users will need the ability to add complex mathematical formulas to their topics. So I'm on the hunt for the appropriate plugin. We are an IE only browser house, so that alone will apparently rule out using the LaTeXToMathMLPlugin here, but others may prefer that plugin for their own use.

Please feel free to fill in the holes and even add additional rows of important information.

-- AmandaSmith - 01 Mar 2006

Added some minor data for MathModePlugin.

-- StephenGordon - 09 May 2006

Contributing Authors: AmandaSmith, StephenGordon

Related Topics: MathModePlugin, MathModePluginDev, LatexModePlugin, LatexModePluginDev, LaTeXToMathMLPlugin, LaTeXToMathMLPluginDev,


LaTeXToMathML Plugin hasn't really been developed for the next version of TWiki, mostly because its author (me) hasn't upgraded his personal installation in a while. I'm busy writing my thesis at the moment, so I'll probably not have much time to update things until I'm done.

-- SimonClift - 01 Mar 2006

Someone asked me a question about this by email and what choices I ended up making.  So here is a follow-up of what I decided would work best in my company:

When I started this I didn't even know what LaTeX was, much less how to use it or how to evaluate the options.  After quite a bit of reading, I decided to go with the LatexMode Plugin which was the best choice of the plugins for us.  However, even with the plugin it is quite a bit of effort to type in a lot of very complex equations and requires either memorizing huge tables of LaTeX symbols (i.e. %$ \mu $%) or looking them up for every character.  Not much fun.  An alternative that we promote when feasible is to use an image of your equation uploaded as an attachment, such as a screenshot of the equation from another program.  We suggest this if you already have it written out in some other program--no sense it writing it twice!  See the Common Symbols table on LatexModePlugin.

-- AmandaSmith - 30 May 2006

Thanks for providing this feedback, Amanda. One implication is the need to provide a math-markup GUI, by expanding/customizing the WysiwygPlugin or the FirefoxExtensionAddOn (the steps for the later are outlined in FirefoxExtensionAddOnDev). Hopefully, someone (else) can pick this up as I have zero Java experience.

My own approach to the 'need to look up LaTeX commands' problem is to use Emacs as an external editor, via mozex. The AUC-TeX package for Emacs provides a complete list of LaTeX commands, including command completion and search ability, plus a host of other features to ease the creation of complex expressions.

-- ScottHoge - 31 May 2006

Thanks Scott. I know the engineers at my company use Matlab and Mathcad. I'm not familiar with either, but from a quickie google I see that both handle Latex in some way. I wonder if there is an easy way to go from one math program to TWiki? Is there anyone out there familiar with either or both of these programs and Latex to know if a math program can be used as an easier Latex editor and then somehow copied into TWiki? If so, could you write up a short description of how?

Also, I reorganized the content of this topic but didn't delete anything.

-- AmandaSmith - 31 May 2006

MathModePlugin (03apr2003) and LatexModePlugin (prior to 05aug2006) both scale very low in terms of ImplementationQuality and security as they make use of system() calls and backticks. Since TWiki04 we have a security sandbox. To support oder TWiki versions use the DakarContrib which bundles the needed sandbox implementation. LatexModePlugin does heavy initializations even for pages where it is not needed. Generated images end up being autoattached. Outdated images are not cleaned up. Every image generates a rcs revision file for no obvious reason. The MathModePlugin seems to be abandoned and suffers similar problems albeit not so grave as it is kind of lighter. There are patches for the MathModePlugin but they don't seem to be integrated into the release. It is out of sync with the version in SVN although both differe only in minor aspects.

-- MichaelDaum - 03 Aug 2006

MichaelDaum recently upgraded the MathModePlugin to fix the security issues. The table above has been modified to reflect the change.

The 05aug2006 release of the LatexModePlugin addresses a few of MichaelDaum's concerns listed above. The security sandbox is now used for system calls, the initialization overhead is now only loaded when LaTeX markup is present, and one now has the option of bypassing the rcs creation for setups that store attachments on a file-system, as opposed to a database (which at this point is probably most everyone).

-- ScottHoge - 06 Aug 2006

Scott, your plugin looks better now. But I'd still suggest that you don't implement it as one 1050 lines monolitic perl file that get's compiled on every view. In addition, without any code being run, there's a large list of global variables being initialized for no apparent reason beforehand. So while you did well in introducing the security sandbox LatexModePlugin still is falling short in terms of ImplementationQuality.

-- MichaelDaum - 06 Aug 2006

Agreed, as time permits. It is intentionally marked PleaseFeelFreeToModify and DevelopedInSVN, should others wish to take on the task. wink (although the mod_perl work, which elliminates the globals, is nearly done.)

-- ScottHoge - 07 Aug 2006

It would be great if LateXToMathML could follow TWiki upgrade. Because the other solutions based on latex they are pretty, specially when we have dozens of others plugins.

-- MarcoSilva - 13 Jun 2007

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Topic revision: r14 - 2007-06-14 - PeterThoeny
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