The need to write mathematics dates back to the creation of the Web by researchers at CERN where it was intended to be used to exchange scientific documents. A <MATH> tag was proposed in a HTML 3.0 Draft from 1995 and the MathML 1.0 standard was released in 1998. Years later, MathML is not supported consistently and reliably by all Web rendering engines, assistive technologies or mathematical tools. We still face a chicken-and-egg problem where some browser vendors are reluctant to put effort on native MathML developments while other companies, organizations or individuals have kept promoting their own hacks to workaround the lack of MathML support in browsers: PNG/SVG images of formula, CSS stylesheets, Javascript code for mathematical layout…

This means that today, all browsers do not support the simplest Web features like CSS styling to select a mathematical font for your formulas, Javascript programming to edit the DOM of an equation and have its rendering automatically updated, using arbitrary Unicode characters in formulas or embedding formulas in SVG schemas. While the Web community has been promoting browser speed, accessibility (e.g. zooming or screen reading of equations), responsive layout (e.g. automatic linebreaking of mathematical formulas), internationalization (e.g. formulas with Arabic characters written from right-to-left and using typographic ligatures), these features are hardly possible for mathematics without proper integration into the web engines. Many other features like copy and paste transfers, search engines, feed aggregators, emails, etc are limited by the lack of MathML support or by the use of non-standard alternatives.

Given the above, it appeared necessary to:

  • Create a nonprofit organization to collect money and fund native MathML developments in Web rendering engines. The various volunteers who have worked on native MathML implementations and the successful crowdfunding project Mathematics in ebooks showed that there is a strong interest. However, a legal entity seems necessary to encourage the participation of major actors and go farther than an individual or short-term effort.

  • Encourage the developments of concrete mathematical tools and Web-based applications demonstrating the benefits of a good integration of mathematical support in the Web platform. This requires a desinterested entity in contrast to companies, organizations or individuals focusing more on developing their mathematical tools and promoting their own products.

As a consequence, a group of math-on-the-web enthusiasts decided to create a nonprofit organization in order to provide a solid foundation for MathML development efforts and a legal entity to speak for people willing to make mathematics a first class citizen on the Web. In 2015, the Mondial Association for Tools Handling MathML, Ltd (for short, “MathML association”) was born.