delete key doesn't work and other key bindings (shortcuts)

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delete key doesn't work and other key bindings (shortcuts)

Postby janpf » Wed Jul 08, 2009 05:04 UTC

First thanks for the great software, it looks really nice! :)

I found a couple of issues though that prevent me from using it in a productive way, and I'm not sure if they are bugs (in the software or in my understanding) or feature request:

- no delete key, I have to move the mouse and click on the delete button ... which is quite a pain if one is typing a long equation. Maybe this is a bug ? Backspace didn't work either.

- lack of keybindings makes it very unproductive: the keys to Func/Op/Text/Identifier are cumbersome (alt+shift+...), and after selecting them I still have to go to the mouse and click on the text field again. An expression simple as "0<i<n, 1<j<m, i<j" took me forever to input.

- lack of key bindings (arrows?) to move to subscript area -- again I had to go back to the mouse each time and click

- lack of a simple parser of identifier/number/op/func. So we could just enter text like "0<i<n, 1<j<m, i<j" and get the correct input created (id/numbers/ops)-- I would be happy to help with this, let me know if that is ok, and I'll drop an email later.

- even better would be to be able to enter pieces of latex math code (very rich and short) and have them converted on the fly. That would be very cool ... and probably others mentioned it before. Maybe much of it shouldn't be that hard to implement -- again I would be happy to help.

My specs: I'm using version 0.3.1 of Firemath, 3.0.11 of Firefox on an updated Ubuntu 9.04. But again, likely the bug is in me having missed something obvious.

cheers!
jan
janpf
 

Re: delete key doesn't work and other key bindings (shortcuts)

Postby firemath » Thu Jul 09, 2009 13:43 UTC

Thanks for the comprehensive feedback. I hope my answers cover all your points.

The delete and backspace keys are not supported on purpose. You don't delete objects that often, but you quickly hit one of these keys by mistake. Therefore, I feel it is better to add support for these keys not before there is an undo function implemented, which is challenging.

Studying pages
http://www.firemath.info/examples/example05/
http://www.firemath.info/keyboard/
you learn how your sample equation can be created solely with the keyboard. Key strokes are (S-A == Shift-Alt)
0 S-A-i < i S-A-i < n S-A-i S-A-t , S-A-x 1 S-A-i < j S-A-i < m S-A-i S-A-t , S-A-x i S-A-i < j S-A-i

The Left and Right arrow-keys bring the cursor into the subscript.

Firefox has already lots of hotkeys defined (e.g. Ctrl-F opens the search field). I didn't want to replace too many of these. Therefore the combinations with Shift-Alt or Ctrl-Alt. I don't know how many variations of keyboard layouts exist in this world. At least on my keyboard pressing Shift-Alt is only slightly more difficult than just pressing Ctrl. For comparison: In Latex you frequently need a backslash, which each time makes you break your fingers if you have to work with a German keyboard.

Mathematics (and Physics and the like) use a huge set of operators, variables, etc. I think Firemath should provide the most flexible solution, i.e. everyone should be able to get what he reaches for. On the other hand a large feature set is somewhat contradictory to an easy to use interface. This certainly means I am open for proposals on how the interface can be improved.

The W3C decided to differentiate between operators, identifiers and text within MathML. This has to be incorporated somehow into Firemath. It seems to me only the user knows into which of these categories the object falls, which he wants to add. Installing an automation here implies the danger that people pollute the Web with poorly rendered MathML. You certainly know lots of examples in which Latex is used rather naively. To me it seems difficult to write the parser you propose. With respect to your example: Is the comma an operator or is it text? Even if this can be answered easily it should not be difficult to find examples, where any automation must fail.

I worked with Latex a lot. While a simple equation like 0<n<j can be generated quickly with Latex, it often took me a significant part of my life to get more complex equations rendered properly. I know there are tools to simplify that. But do they run on various operating systems? Are they open source? I cannot make up my mind, yet, on your proposal to allow Latex style entries. On first view, I don't like the idea but I might change my mind. BTW: You find Latex to MathML converters on the internet.
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Re: delete key doesn't work and other key bindings (shortcuts)

Postby janpf » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:06 UTC

Hey, thanks for the long and detailed answer, and explanations.

I see your point about the delete key. Probably i type in a different pattern than you do: usually I type fast, but use backspace/delete a lot. I definitely think that the del/bs keybindings would be useful to me, but I understand how you prefer otherwise.

And noticeable the bug was in my understanding: any letter/number i type moves the focus directly to the text box. Seems to work fine, I just didn't pick it up at first.

Also I learned the tab/shift+tab sequences that makes the cursor jump from the text box to the formula, which helps.

Btw, I think one would expect the formula to be after the text box on the tab sequence, given their layout, but it seems to be the other way around.

Regarding latex I have the same feelings as you: easy to write simple things like 0<n<j, but lots of debugging to get bigger equations right.

That's why i would love to have the best of both worlds, firemath as WYSIWYG for the structure, and being able to quickly enter some latex for the simple and quick subexpressions -- and save many Shift+Alt typing.

As you pointed out it is probably impossible to get a parser right 100% of the time (it's not a 1 to 1 mapping). But as long as one has the alternative of Shift+Alt typing the right form, I suppose it would be ok to have a parser that gets only some (hopefully most) of the cases right.

Many thanks anyway, I'm already used firemath for some docs I needed to write.
janpf
 


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