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WYSIWYG math with only HTML, CSS and JS

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by Han and Jay. Current development is proudly supported by Desmos, whose awesome graphing calculator makes extensive use of Mathquill.

Please note that this is a beta version, so bugs and unimplemented features are all over the place.


(Note: Requires jQuery 1.4.3+. Google CDN-hosted copy recommended.)

To use MathQuill on your website you need to serve

then on your webpages include the stylesheet

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/path/to/mathquill.css">`

and after jQuery, the script

<script src="/path/to/mathquill.min.js"></script>

Then wherever you'd like to embed LaTeX math to be rendered in HTML:

<span class="mathquill-embedded-latex">\frac{d}{dx}\sqrt{x}</span>

or have an editable math textbox:

<span class="mathquill-editable">f(x)=?</span>

Note that for dynamically created elements that weren't in the HTML DOM on document ready, you will need to call our jQuery plugin after inserting into the visible HTML DOM:

$('<span>x^2</span>').appendTo('body').mathquill() or .mathquill('editable')

MathQuill has to perform calculations based on computed CSS values. If you mathquill-ify an element before inserting into the visible HTML DOM, then once it is visible MathQuill will need to recalculate:


Any element that has been MathQuill-ified can be reverted:


Manipulating the HTML DOM inside editable math textboxes can break MathQuill. Currently, MathQuill only supports a limited scripting API:

  • To access the LaTeX contents of a mathquill-ified element:

    $('<span>x^{-1}</span>').mathquill().mathquill('latex') === 'x^{-1}'
  • To render some LaTeX in a mathquill-ified element:

    $('<span/>').mathquill().appendTo('body').mathquill('latex','a_n x^n')
  • To write some LaTeX at the current cursor position:

  • To insert a LaTeX command at the current cursor position or with the current selection:


Understanding The Source Code

All the CSS is in mathquill.css. Most of it's pretty straightforward, the choice of font isn't settled, and fractions are somewhat arcane, see the Wiki pages "Fonts" and "Fractions".

All the JavaScript that you actually want to read is in src/, build/ is created when you run make just to contain a cat'ed and minified version of all that.

Overview of how things fit together:

(Just skim the logic, but do read the starred comments, definitions and method signatures.)

In comments and internal documentation, :: means .prototype..

baseclasses.js defines constructors and prototypes for the JS objects that make up the virtual math DOM tree:

  • (By convention _ is a variable assigned the prototype of the "current" class.)
  • The math DOM has two kinds of nodes: commands and blocks
    • blocks, like the root block, can contain any number of commands
    • commands, like x, 1, +, \frac, \sqrt (clearly siblings in the tree) contain a fixed number of blocks
      • symbols like x, y, 1, 2, +, - are commands with 0 blocks
  • All math DOM nodes are instances of MathElement
    • blocks are instances of MathBlock
    • commands are instances of MathCommand
      • symbols are instances of Symbol
  • MathFragments are basically 'subblocks' that encapsulate a "view" of multiple commands. Like a pointer to a particular command, they have access to nodes in the tree but aren't part of the tree.
    • prev and next seemed like a good idea at the time, they match Cursor, but first and last instead are under consideration

cursor.js defines the constructor and prototypes for the visible blinking cursor and highlighted selection. They are not part of the tree but have access and point to elements in it to keep track of their location:

  • The methods of Cursor.prototype pretty much do what they say on the tin. They're how the tree is supposed to traversed and modified.

rootelements.js defines the math DOM tree root elements, and a function createRoot() that attaches event handlers to the jQuery-wrapped HTML elements:

  • Some root elements can actually be in others, so rather than attaching handlers in the constructor, createRoot() is called on the actual root element. Except \editable{}s need text input event handlers that aren't attached to the static math containing's a little messy.
  • Event delegation is used in 2 ways:
    • in the HTML DOM, the root span element of each MathQuill thing is delegated all the events in it's own MathQuill thing
      • keyboard events usually end up triggering their analogue in the virtual DOM on the virtual cursor, which then bubble upwards
    • in the virtual math DOM, the root MathElement is delegated most of these virtual keyboard events
      • for example, RootMathBlock::keydown()
      • some special commands do intercept these events, though
  • Keyboard events are very inconsistent between browsers, so rootelements.js has some complicated but very effective logic documented in the Wiki page "Keyboard Events".

symbols.js defines constructors and prototypes for all the symbols like & and \partial, and adds the constructors to CharCmds or LatexCmds as used by Cursor::write().

commands.js defines the constructors and prototypes for all the commands like \frac and /, and adds the constructors to CharCmds or LatexCmds.

publicapi.js defines the public jQuery::mathquill() method and on document ready, finds and mathquill-ifies .mathquill-editable and so on elements.

intro.js and outro.js are just boilerplate.

See the EtherPad for MathQuill on for the current active development discussion.

Open-Source License

GNU Lesser General Public License

Copyleft 2010-2011 Han and Jay

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