# Let me do the math

As this is my site and a big part of my life is math, I’d obviously like to have the possibility to use mathematical formulae here.

So after looking around for a while I found out, that Maruku the standard Markdown engine of Jekyll is able to use e.g. ritex, or blahtex to convert Latex formulae into MathML or png images. A little investigation into Jekyll later I knew that it only uses blahtex for conversion of formulae into png images (if that’s wrong drop me a line in the comments please). Since I really like modern web standards this was unacceptable for me and I took a stab into writing my first Jekyll plugin.

As most of the formulae I use will be rather short, at least at first. I thought I’d start with something that can do short formulae easy and find a solution for the inevitable giant formula later. I still liked to keep my blog compiling automatically after I push it to my git repository and Latex is not installed on my hosting provider uberspace. I could do that, but just for having some formulae on my blog seemed a bit excessive. So I started out going for a pure ruby setup with ritex, just to find out that it can’t even parse a simple array environment. This was equally unacceptable.

Next iteration: itex2mml which is a standalone program in a single binary and has ruby bindings. After downloading and copying into my path, the next challenge arose. How the hack is the ruby binding package called? Actually searching for it was no fun at all and didn’t find me a solution either, so I went back and fumbled around in the Maruku source code since it is one of the supported options for a rendering engine. With the pleasant surprise that I could keep the code almost unchanged. And a little furious with the naming convention of this package. itex2mml, Itex2MML and itextomml come on! Who the heck does something like that.

## The code

After that was sorted out it was pretty easy to come up with the following code. Feel free to use it for your own sites.

```
require 'itextomml'
module Jekyll
class TexTag < Liquid::Tag
def initialize (tag_name, text, tokens)
super
@text = text
end
def render(context)
p = Itex2MML::Parser.new
'<div class="mathLatexToMML">' << p.block_filter("#{@text}") << '</div>'
end
end
class TexBlock < Liquid::Block
def initialize (tag_name, text, tokens)
super
end
def render(context)
p = Itex2MML::Parser.new
'<div class="mathLatexToMML">' << p.block_filter(super) << '</div>'
end
end
end
Liquid::Template.register_tag('latex', Jekyll::TexTag)
Liquid::Template.register_tag('latexblock', Jekyll::TexBlock)
```

## Issues

Soon after I had my desired MathML I found out that Chrome doesn’t support it (insert head-smashing-on-desk-noise here), oppose to all other browsers I interested in supporting. So I had a look around for some transparent fallback solution and found MathJAX which probably everybody and their parents already knows, but anyhow, I’ll explain what I did for those who don’t.

It is actually extremely easy to configure MathJax as a MathML fallback. First you can use the MathJax CDN and have the most current version of the library in use as soon as it is released. The only thing you have to do is to tell MathJax to load the “MML_HTMLorMML.js” config and you are done.

So putting the following line in your html file will suffice.

`<script type="text/javascript" src="https://c328740.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=MML_HTMLorMML.js"></script>`

## Results

Just as a small example, here are two formulae, one with the latex and one with the latexblock liquid tag provided by the code above.

{%latex e^{\pi\cdot i}+1=0 %}

will result in: $e^{\pi\cdot i}+1=0$ and

{%latexblock%} fib(n)=\pi_2 \left(\left(\begin{array}{cc}1 & 1 \\ 1 & 0\end{array}\right)^{n-1}\cdot\left(\begin{array}{c}1\\1\end{array}\right)\right) {%endlatexblock%}

will give you: $fib(n)=\pi_2 \left(\left(\begin{array}{cc}1 & 1 \\ 1 & 0\end{array}\right)^{n-1}\cdot\left(\begin{array}{c}1\\1\end{array}\right)\right)$

## Conclusion

I hope this is useful to someone else but me. If you have any ideas on improvements don’t hesitate to drop me a line in the comments.