Tag Archives: XML

Editing Equations in Oxygen XML Editor

Editing equations in Oxygen XML Editor version 14.0 was more difficult than we expected. After trying several of the leading MathML editors, we found a versatile, easy-to-use, inexpensive solution.

Oxygen XML Fragment Editor

The Help Pages of Oxygen XML Editor version 14.0 have this to say about its support for equations:

“… includes a built-in editor for MathML notations. To start the MathML editor either double click a MathML notation or select the Edit Equation action from its contextual menu. In the MathML editor you are able to edit the mathematical symbols of a MathML notation.”

Either action opens the XML Fragment Editor window. A few problems with using this tool will surprise the user:

  1. WYSIWYG tools for entering new equations are not available.

MathML is not intended to be written or edited directly; an important reason all XML editors include a wysiwyg editing mode for MathML. This mode in Oxygen is called Authoring and is selected using the Author tab. While in Authoring mode, an equation is inserted by selecting Dita->Insert-> Insert Equation from the contextual menu. This action opens the XML Fragment Editor window with the Pythagorean equation as its default. The MathML code that implements this equation is displayed directly below the equation (see the example below). Note that there are no controls or menus in the window for rewriting the equation.

2. It is difficult, if not impractical, to edit equations using its wysiwyg feature.

The red box enclosing the equation is the only hint of possible wysiwyg editing capability. You can point-and-click on a component of this equation so the red box surrounds it and then make a simple change in code below it. For example, you can select each “squared” term and change it to “cubed”. Or you can change the “+” to “-“. But you cannot insert complex operators.

3. Although the bottom half of the window allows editing an equation via its MathML code, the code quickly becomes intractable as expressions become more complex.

The MathML displayed in the XML Fragment Editor window is the same non-wysiwyg view as would be seen if you had selected the Text tab. The user could, in theory, enter a new equation by making changes to the default equation in Text mode. But, as has been said, MathML is not intended to be written or edited directly. The complexity of the code just for the default equation makes this apparent. Also, you can also see the difficulty of locating components to make even simple edits in an existing complex equation that someone else has entered into the document, as shown  in the screen capture below.

Because we found the Oxygen XML Fragment Editor impractical for editing MathML, we researched other MathML editing options.


The makers of Oxygen XML Editor recommend the MathFlow plugin from Design Science for a fully functional MathML authoring tool.  The interface is easy to use and familiar to anyone who has entered equations in MSWord. However, the MathFlow plugin was incompatible with our client’s specialized build routine to output pdf and html failed, making the tool unusable for us.

Web Equation

At the Web Equation web-site (http://webdemo.visionobjects.com/equation.html?locale=default), an equation can be moused onto a grid, like drawing onto legal pad (see below). A print-quality image of the equation is rendered below the grid, to confirm the moused input. The MathML code is displayed by clicking on the MathML tab. This code can then be copied from the web-site and pasted directly into the XML document while in Text mode. Or it can be pasted into the document while in Authoring mode via the XML Fragment Editor window. However, with either method, our XML schema requires “m:” prefixes that are missing from the code supplied by Web Equation. For example, <mrow> and </mrow> tags should be <m:mrow> and </m:mrow>. To solve this problem as efficiently as possible, we copied the code into Notepad, used Notepad’s Find/Replace function to replace all instances of <m and </m with <m:m and </m:m, then copied-pasted this result into the XML document.

We found Web Equation to be of limited use, not just because of the extra step needed to add element prefixes, but also because many attempts were needed before the rendered equation was correct.

Mathematics StackExchange

Mathematics StackExchange is a mathematics question and answer website (http://math.stackexchange.com/search?q=serial+summation). We searched and found summation equations similar to what we wanted. The MathML code for any equation at that website can be displayed by right-clicking the equation. Then the code is entered into the XML document using the same steps as described for Web Equation. Of course, because it is unlikely that any of the equations available at Mathematics StackExchange will be an exact match to what is needed, editing is generally required, which is a non-trivial effort using either Notepad or the Oxygen editor.


MathType, also from Design Science, has the same user-friendly interface as MathFlow and its MathML coding includes compatible namespace prefixes. The user enters the equation using a complete set of mathematic operators and templates displayed at the top of the MathType window, then only has to copy the equation rendered in the window and paste directly into the XML document. Our build routine worked perfectly. We chose MathType  as our primary MathML editor because it provides all the functionality we need and, because it is not a plugin, doesn’t break the Oxygen editor.

Grandy is a senior technical writer at Phoenix Technical Publications. Phoenix Tech Pubs has provided complete technical writing and documentation services in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area for over 25 years.



Technical Documentation Moves Toward Live Product Content

The Internet and mobile channels are fundamentally changing how customers expect to find and engage with information related to a company’s products. To provide an outstanding experience for their customers, a company must provide quick access to relevant, up-to-date technical information in compelling forms. By doing so, companies can increase revenues, improve out-of-box experience, increase self-service, drive down call center calls, and ultimately increase repeat buying and word of mouth recommendations.

To improve customer experience, companies are moving towards a practice of what might be labeled “live product content”. Live product content offers a number of valuable business benefits that cannot be achieved with traditional documentation. Continue reading Technical Documentation Moves Toward Live Product Content

10 Steps to Save Time and Money During Translation

For companies doing business globally, the availability of properly translated documentation is critical for success. But translation can be expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome, and companies often limit translation or skip it altogether.

With proper planning, translations costs can be significantly reduced. However this requires more than just extracting the best deal from your translation vendor. It requires proper planning at the time of content creation. Following the steps below can cut your translation cost by 50% or more without diluting the value of your content. Continue reading 10 Steps to Save Time and Money During Translation

Phoenix Tech Pubs Update: April 2012

Time to catch up on documentation! Many of our clients put technical documentation on hold during the economic slump and are now facing a daunting challenge to bring it up to date. With over twenty-five years of experience, Phoenix Tech Pubs is providing efficient and cost-effective support to clients such as General Dynamics, Applied Materials, and Cepheid as they update their documentation.


We are completing a major transformation of documentation for a leading semiconductor company from static PDFs to fully searchable, customizable XML and DITA based online-technical content. Check back soon when their site is up and running!

See our blogs “An Introduction to XML and DITA” and “Technical Documentation Moves Toward Live Product Content” for more information.


Autonomous motorized devices grow in popularity for both military and commercial use. We recently completed a doc set for an exciting new robotics device for a Silicon Valley start-up.


Bring Your Own Device is the newest trend in corporate technology use. Phoenix Tech Pubs recently wrote a white paper for a IT software company about their solution for mobile device management.

See our blog “BYOD and FIYS – The Consumerization of IT” for more information.
Phoenix Technical Publications has provided complete technical writing and documentation services in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 25 years.