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[Axiom-developer] Re: AxiomUI project funded
[Axiom-developer] Re: AxiomUI project funded
Tue, 28 Jun 2005 12:10:50 +0200
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Bob McElrath wrote:
The cl-typesetting project is not so much about creating a new input
syntax for documents but a typesetting engine. For example someone
contributed a module supporting XML-FO and IIRC they would love to have
a module supporting LaTeX-like input. But I'm not promoting doing
expression rendering ourselves at this point, so maybe we can just leave
it at that.
Kai Kaminski address@hidden wrote:
Sure. The cl-typesetting library is currently developed by Marc Battyani
(http://www.fractalconcept.com/) and is "intended to be an alternative
to the TeX like typesetting systems." It is still under heavy
development but is already used by some people.
I think there is simply too much momentum behind TeX and MathML to
contemplate an alternative typesetting system. Dealing with these two
will be headache enough...
But Axiom doesn't only send mathematical expressions as output. What
about plots, for example? We'd also have to integrate an SVG library in
only am I confused as to wether the latter is actually possible, it's
conditions. If some part of Axiom throws a condition it would be cool if
Axiom could communicate that to the front-end together with a list of
restarts. Then the front-end could ask the user what to do and offer him
to send a bug report. Of course, Axiom could instead generate an
HTML-page offering the user a list of restarts, but that would mean even
more non-math code in Axiom.
We should enumerate an API specifying what input the back-end expects,
and what output it can give.
Not really. I'm proposing that the GUI be implemented as a separate
process from Axiom. That's all. The first version of that GUI happens to
use a web browser to display output, but that may change in the future.
Suppose in a couple of month someone starts working on wxWidgets
bindings. Instead of generating 3d plots as X3D documents we might want
to use wxWidgets OpenGL widget to display them directly. There is
another widget allowing the embedding of Mozilla, hence we could still
use Mozilla for the HyperDoc pages.
Well, for other reason I want a separate GUI back-end written in Lisp
anyway. That back-end would read the sexp-based output and emit XML/HTML
for the browser. Implementing an sexp parser in a web browser is not a
good idea, I agree. One thing to consider is that Axiom has its
knowledge in some Lisp data structures anyway, I suppose. Hence writing
the output in a format that is native to Lisp (sexps) should be very
So you're proposing *three* applications?
2) sexp -> xml converter
Even in the beginning part 2) will be more than an sexp-to-xml
converter. Take plots as an example. Axiom supplies a list of points
that have to be connected with straight lines/splines/whatever. Then
part 2) generates SVG output, which isn't too hard but not trivial
either. Suppose the plot contains some text, like a title or a
description. We can't just stuff the text into the SVG file, because in
XML certain characters have to be escaped. I don't want to implement all
Well, maybe it is, but I'm not convinced yet. I agree that we should
start by clarifying what kinds of output Axiom will have to send and
define a useful format. We might consider using something compatible to
xmls (http://common-lisp.net/project/xmls/). The other question is how
we implement that in Axiom. I don't know Axiom's architecture, and Bill
said it might be too difficult. Opinions?
I think the middle application is probably unnecessary, but let's get
into the nitty gritty of what we want to exchange.
That's exactly what I'm aiming at. Axiom's output should be
GUI-independent, contain as much information as possible and be easy to
parse from a variety of languages. Sexps and XML seem to fit the bill
(XML can often be seen as a verbose way of writing sexps). The middle
part is not just a format converter. The GUI will become more complex
over time. Suppose we want to support LaTeX as an input syntax for
HyperDoc pages or something similar (Martin Rubey wants this, as I
understand). Do we want to put a LaTeX parser into Axiom? Do we want to
converters to HTML/XML, but they might not quite do what we need and
even if they do, we might havee to do some additional processing, like
I suspect that any potential GUI will want the same things, and will
want those things in either sexp or XML format. Building both those
into axiom will be fruitful. But I think the middle layer would end up
being nothing more than a format converter... no?
development environment (correct me if I'm wrong). If, some day, we add
complex behaviour to the Axiom GUI I'd much rather implement that in
Common Lisp and push the results to a web browser than implementing all
As long as we don't do really fancy XML this should be no problem. In
fact the XML parser that I mentioned a few posts back has a nice mapping
between sexps and XML.
I think the API should consist of RPC calls, with arguments marshalled
in either sexp or XML. Unless there is a strong reason to believe we
cannot simply do a 1:1 conversion between XML and sexp, I advocate a
single API and a single XML <-> sexp converter. This is already
present, to a large degree, in the axiom language.
AJAX wouldn't work then, but using Mozilla-specific extensions there is
obviously a way around this as you have shown with your example. But if
someone creates a new HyperDoc page he will have to include the
would much prefer to have a different format for HyperDoc pages than
HTML, because HTML doesn't capture the semantics of Axiom or HyperDoc.
Consider the command line as an example. If we store the pages as HTML
so that they can be read by a browser we would probably include some
imagine that maybe in two years the W3C includes a tag in HTML that does
pretty much the same, just better or more beautiful. Then we'll have to
go through all pages using a command line, rip out the old code put in
the new one. If we have our own format for HyperDoc pages (XML with a
HyperDoc DTD, sexp-based, LaTeX-based,...) we just change the code in
the middle process that is responsible for rendering the HyperDoc pages
to HTML and they are all new and shiny. Of course we could just do the
conversion once, every time something like this happens, but that would
require us to keep two versions of every page around and sooner or later
people would try and modify the rendered HTML instead of the page source.
But it shouldn't hang. And it should also continue to deliver help pages
while a computation is running. Whenever I'm waiting some long-running
process to finish I start reading documentation. If we don't have either
threading or separate processes that's pretty much impossible.
Why should axiom "deliver" help pages at all? Why can't the interface
read them directly off the disk? And when those help pages contain an
axiom session, why can't the interface start a new session for
evaluation (so that it does not interfere with the main computation).
This will still require threading in the server, but it's simply
threading of axiom sessions, and not truly "interface code".
I guess we could just start several instances of Axiom.
will the search code be part of Axiom? If we have a process between
Axiom an browser we can just put it in there.
The only thing missing from this idea is "search".
What I meant is that converting sexps to XML is trivial in the sense
that "(tag :attribute value ...)" becomes "<tag attribute="value"> ...
</tag>". Rendering things to XHTML on the other hand can be more
difficult. Tim once remarked that he couldn't see how we can associate
meaning to XML data. The answer is that it's difficult, but that is not
a specific problem of XML.
It should be easy to use these existing pieces to enable a
)set output sexp on
That's my point. If we have sexp output it is trivial to convert that to
any kind of XML we'd like, apart from semantics, but no format would
solve that problem.
)set output mathml on
by converting sexp's to mathml.
What do you mean by "no format would solve that problem"? What are you
referring to with "format"? And the problem is conversion of sexp <->
I'm not sure what you mean here, but I assume that Axiom already
incorporates code to generate plot data. We can use that to create SVG
files, which look very nice. PDF is also easy, because of cl-pdf.
Now that hyperdoc is working...I just discovered axiom's graphics
capabilities. Graphics will require a lot more thought. My google
searches turned up basically nothing as far as scientific graphics in