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I was wondering if I could get a list of the fonts that are required for jsMath to work properly when in Unicode mode. We have been having problems with expressions not showing up properly (characters not displaying properly and/or alignment issues) for some users. It shows up fine for most users, but some are having trouble, and we're having a hard time nailing down exactly which fonts they need to have. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
Davide P. Cervone
If your users install one of the TeX-fonts archives from the (http://www.math.union.edu/locate/jsMath/download/jsMath-fonts.html) they should not have trouble with jsMath fonts. This will cause jsMath to use its TeX font mode, which is its highest quality mode.
The Unicode mode is the lowest quality, and is not generally very reliable, due to the font issues that your users have been experiencing. JsMath tries to use whatever fonts are available on their system, and there is no guarantee that the needed fonts are there. Also, the ability to find the characters in the fonts seems to be browser-dependent (with IE, for example, unable to find characters that actually ARE available on your system). I recommend using unicode mode only as a last resort.
The image fallback mode is a far better choice, in general, for those without the jsMath-TeX fonts. Unless you are using colored text in a critical way, I would recommend that your users use the image fallback mode, which should be the default when they don't have the TeX fonts. If you haven't installed the image fonts, you should do that if you can.
Thank you for your response. The reason why we are using the Unicode mode as a default is because we claim that our product will work without having to download anything. However, if we do have users who tell us they are having problems, we suggest that they download the jsMath fonts. Sometimes this fixes the problem, but sometimes there are still alignment issues, which mainly involve fractions. The main problems that some users are having before installing the jsMath fonts are missing symbols such as degree signs and brackets on matrices, and these are replaced by boxes. We have noticed that IE tends to do a worse job of rendering expressions, but we did not realize that it was because it is unable to find characters that are actually on the system. That is strange. Do you have an idea of specifically which fonts are important to have for the Unicode mode? This might help us in troubleshooting problems.
Also, we have discussed using the image fallback mode, but we are concerned with the long loading times associated with images.
Thanks again for your help, and thanks for your product. It has been very helpful to us, and for the most part, we haven't had problems with it. There are just a few users periodically who run into trouble, and we'd like to help them as efficiently as possible.
If you want to be able to say that your product works without any downloads, then I would say that image mode would be the way to go rather than unicode mode. I understand the concern about loading images, but the images used by jsMath are tiny, in general, and once a character image has been loaded, it is reused every time that character is displayed. (Unlike most math images, which are one large image for the complete expression, jsMath uses small images of the individual characters and lays them out as it would characters in a font.)
I do not have a list of unicode fonts that are needed (or that work). For the Mac, the default system fonts are enough, but for Windows, I don't have any recommendations.
You may wish to consider the (http://www.mathjax.org) project as an alternative to jsMath, as it uses web-based fonts for those browsers that support it. We are due to release MathJax in early 2010, but pre-release versions are available via the (http://sourceforge.net/projects/mathjax/).
Hope that helps.
Okay, thanks. I really appreciate all your help!