PAUL R. TOPPING
Design Science, Inc., California
Abstract: This presentation starts with an overview of the capabilities of MathType 4.0, the latest release of Design Science's interactive mathematical equation editing software package for the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows platforms. MathType is the full-featured version of Design Science's Equation Editor software, distributed with Microsoft Office, Word, and Works, Corel WordPerfect, and many other software products.
MathType has a simple direct-manipulation interface for creating standard mathematical notation. It is not a word processor but is used to create or edit mathematical expressions one at a time to be inserted into a word processing or TEX document. Instead of entering a computer language, such as TEX, the MathType user combines simple typing with the insertion of ``templates''. For example, inserting a fraction template results in a fraction bar with empty slots above and below for the numerator and denominator. The contents of each slot can be completed by the user by more typing and inserting of templates. The displayed equation is reformatted as the user types and spacing is added automatically (although spacing may be explicitly overridden).
This interface is simpler than direct TEX input as there are no keywords to remember and, most importantly, no possibility of syntax errors. The interface is also faster as keystroke shortcuts can be assigned to all symbols and templates. Common sub-expressions can be saved by the user, assigned a keystroke or a toolbar button, to be recalled at any point in equation construction with a keystroke or mouse-click. And, because MathType is UNICODE-based, it can handle non-English language text with ease.
While MathType has had a TEX translator for many years, until version 4.0, it had two important limitations: it could only generate plain TEX, and the user had no control over the TEX fragments generated for particular symbols and templates. MathType 4.0 features a complete re-design of the translator mechanism.
The translation of a MathType expression is controlled by a translator definition file. Translation of characters is performed via rules that are selected by UNICODE value, making the translator mechanism especially powerful for generating TEX for non-English environments. Although the chief motivation for its development was TEX translation, it can be used to generate other mathematical languages.
MathType is supplied with four TEX translators (plain TEX, AMSTEX, LATEX, and AMS-LATEX) and several MathML translators. These can be customized for specific applications; or, translators for other mathematical languages can be written by starting from scratch. Also, commands are available in Microsoft Word that will allow a Word document containing MathType (or Equation Editor) equations to be converted to TEX or any other language supported by a translator. MathType's translation facilities can be used as an aid to learning TEX, as a simpler interface for entering equations into a TEX authoring system, or as part of a document conversion scheme for journal and book publishers.