As usual, I got annoyed that some things were not working for me so I worked up the energy and created a new set of pages called Using MimeTeX. These pages were, originally, for other purposes, but when I noticed there was little or nothing in Moodle that I could make any sense of being fairly clueless that I am, I just went ahead and did them, and found out later that there was not a lot of other help out there.
Please look there and fix up my obvious botches and appallingly badly written examples. Feel free to add whatever you think might help other people feeling their way through the process of using MimeTeX. In this way, you might be able to introduce them to AsciiMath and Geogebra and JSMath and so on.
Thanks for adding those Mimetex pages to Docs.
Moodle Docs and moodle.org are currently using Tex live and I tested some maths in http://docs.moodle.org/test/Development:MediaWiki_TeX_test when Eloy & company had installed Tex Live to moodle.org about year ago.
Before your new doc pages http://www.forkosh.com/mimetexmanual.html was one of the rare addresses documenting the use of Mimetex - adding new pages about syntax of different math renderers & possible external links to other docs are very useful for new moodlers...
Like you have noticed syntax of mimetex and for example Tex Live is not equal - mimetex has some custom symbols and commands that do not work for example in Tex Live and on these pages of moodle.org (with tex filter) - and on the other hand Tex Live has many commands and symbols that do not work in mimetex (if local distribution of Tex Live is not installed - most moodle sites still use mimetex with tex filter)
So is MimeTeX going to remain the default Tex option? Every copy of M2.0 I have installed has it as default, and I assumed that at this late stage if there was no change there was not going to be one.
What we really need though is a simple, clear and complete description of how to change the default Tex package and get it going correctly. Obviously MimeTeX is limited, which probably makes it the better default option - less to configure for different environments.
I have been playing around with different things but inevitably, it either does not work or I cannot be sure that I am using it right - not a lot seems to change. AsciiMath gives me colour and better sizes and such, but the different control sequences become confusing when something doesn't work. I am playing with what you gave me about lines and such, and it works beautifully, but I cannot seem to replicate that in AsciiMath. There seem to be more questions than ever now.
Does the MimeTeX have to be turned off to get the full advantage of AsciiMath? How do we get two or more packages, say AsciiMath and Geogebra and JSMath working together? Can we get them working together? And so on...ad infinitum...
Now all Ihave to do is figure out how to use it...
A full distribution of Tex Live 2009 takes about 2 Gigabytes of hard disk space - Mimetex takes less than 1 megabyte. On my Vista test PC I am using ImageMagick like you and in administration of Tex filter I have
Path of latex binary.... C:\texlive\2009\bin\win32\latex.exe
Path of dvips binary.... C:\texlive\2009\bin\win32\dvips.exe
Path of convert binary... C:\imagemagick\convert.exe
and you can control default packages with LaTeX preamble settings.
On my Debian test server I have full Tex Live 2007 (default package in stable Lenny) together with successor of mimetex - cgi mathtex - which works like cgi mimetex but allows using of external \usepackage commands etc. Unfortinately Mathtex can be used only on Unix/Linux environment - Tex Live can be installed to all environments.
The good point in local install (local PC etc) is that you can actually create full Latex documents and save them as pdf files, images or other formats to get nice printable maths. Because LaTeX is a primarely a document markup language and document preparation system for the TeX typesetting program it could be used for many other things than just outputting maths - usually people need only a few mathematical notations...
Welcome to Wonderland of World Wide Web Maths
Yes, we can get them working together - or select which ones to use for each case. The main problem is that we do not have a single (simple) "Math tool" that could do everything we want the way we want it to happen. They all have limitations.
Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment 2.0 will allow us to create and use more plugin based tools separately installed - last week I tested for example direct tex filter image fallback for editor plugins and it works both in moodle 2.0 and 1.9. One of the main pains has been to find a renderer that could work on all environments and like you have seen people have all kinds of problems with missing permissions, disableded functions or security settings. Google Chart API Tex and MathTran are nice external options like cgi Mimetex but they have some limitations and they do not work offline. Tex Live is too large to be included to moodle and even too large to be installed on most hosted sites that may have less free space than Tex Live alone takes. MathPlayers, Adobe SVG Viewers and other plugins can't be installed to all computers of our users and those plugins are also a little buggy. Java applets like GeoGebra and GeoNeXT are among the best free tools available and we have some good commercial tools like Wiris available but still the whole system of rendering maths and graphs on web pages and moodle needs a lot of new standards, co-operation, testers, documentors and other people willing to use their time to support Open Source tools and development of new online tools and resources...
It's a Never Ending Story really...
Yes, I am coming to the conclusion I have stepped through the Looking Glass - and there does not seem to be a way back.
Anyway, after discussions with Marc I have come to understand that naming these pages Using MimeTeX was in error, inaccurate really, so I have recreated them as Using TeX Notation.
The topics covered:
TeX Notation in Moodle
Windows and TeX
Reserved Characters and Keywords
Superscripts, Subscripts and Roots
Maths symbols available in Moodle
Delimiters and Maths Constructs
Size of displays
The \picture Command
Squares and Rectangles
Lines and Arcs
Can anyone think of anything else that could go in there? Please, go and look and if there is anything that is woefully inaccurate please feel free to change it. I would ask that you add a comment into the Page Comments of you change something though. The only thing I could not get around was the layout issues, so I just put everything into tables and hoped that that works..
I am now paying around, at this stage, with a course on Elementary Trigonometry in TeX Notation, but that is proving a little time consuming, so it may take a while. As soon as it is done I want to put it into the Exchange or perhaps as a feature in the Demo site.