What’s New in MathJax v2.0

MathJax version 2.0 includes many new and improved features, including much better speeds in Internet Explorer, a new AsciiMath input processor, a new SVG output processor, support for additional LaTeX commands, and many bug fixes, to name just a few of the changes.

Major speed improvement for HTML-CSS output, particularly in IE

The HTML-CSS output processing was redesigned to avoid the page reflows that were the main source of the speed problem in Internet Explorer 8 and 9. For test pages having between 20 and 50 typeset expressions, we see an 80% reduction in output processing time for IE8, a 50% reduction for IE9, and between 15% and 25% reduction for most other browsers over the corresponding v1.1a times. Since the processing time in v1.1a grows non-linearly in IE, you should see even larger savings for pages with more equations when using v2.0. Forcing IE7 emulation mode is no longer necessary (and indeed is no longer recommended).

Reduced flickering during typsetting

In the past, each expression was displayed as soon as it was typeset, which caused a lot of visual flickering as MathJax processed the page. In v2.0, the output is processed in blocks so that typeset expressions are revealed in groups. This reduces the visual distraction, and also speeds up the processing. The number of equations in a block can be controlled through the EqnChunk parameter in the HTML-CSS or SVG block of your configuration. See the configuration options for HTML-CSS and configuration options for SVG pages for details.

If the page URL includes a hash reference (a link to a particular location within the page), MathJax v2.0 will jump to that location after the page has finished typsetting. (Since the size of the page may have changed due to the mathematical typsetting, that location may no longer be visible on screen, so MathJax moves there when it is done with the initial typesetting.) You can control this behavior with the positionToHash parameter in the main section of your configuration. See the core configuration options page for details.

Automatic equation numbering of TeX formulas

The TeX input jax now can be configured to add equation numbers (though the default is not to number equations so that existing pages will not change their appearance). This is controlled through the equationNumbers section of the TeX block of your configuration (see the equation numbering section for details). You can request that the numbering follow the AMS-style numbering of environments, or you can request that every displayed equation be numbered. There are now \label, \ref, and \eqref commands to make it easier to link to particular equations within the document.

Automatic line breaking of long displayed equations

MathJax now implements the MathML3 specification for automatic line breaking of displayed equations in its HTML-CSS output. This is disabled by default, but can be enabled via the linebreaks section of the HTML-CSS or SVG block of your configuration (see the automatic line breaking section for details). Note that automatic line breaking only applies to displayed equations, not in-line equations, unless they are themselves longer than a line. The algorithm uses the nesting depth, the type of operator, the size of spaces, and other factors to decide on the breakpoints, but it does not know the meaning of the mathematics, and may not choose the optimal breakpoints. We will continue to work on the algorithm as we gain information from its actual use in the field.

New AsciiMath input jax and SVG output jax

MathJax currently processes math in either TeX and LaTeX format, or MathML notation; version 2.0 augments that to include AsciiMath notation (see the ASCIIMathML home page for details on this format). This is a notation that is easier for students to use than TeX, and has been requested by the user community. See the AsciiMath support page for details.

In addition to the HTML-CSS and Native MathML output available in v1.1, MathJax v2.0 includes an SVG-based output jax. This should prove to be more reliable than the HTML-CSS output, as it avoids some CSS, web-font, and printing issues that the HTML-CSS output suffers from, and it currently has no browser-dependent code. The SVG mode even works in some ebook readers (like Apple iBooks and Calibre). See the output formats documentation for details.

New combined configuration files

Pre-defined configuration files that include the AsciiMath and SVG processors are now available with MathJax v2.0. These include AM_HTMLorMML, TeX-AMS-MML_SVG, and TeX-MML-AM_HTMLorMML. See the common configurations section for details.

MathJax contextual menu now available on mobile devices

MathJax v2.0 provides access to its contextual menu in mobile devices that are based on the WebKit (Safari) and Gecko (Firefox) engines. For Mobile Firefox, the menu is accessed by a tap-and-hold on any expression rendered by MathJax (this is Mobile Firefox’s standard method of triggering a contextual menu). In Mobile Safari, use a double-tap-and-hold (you may need to zoom in a bit to be able to accomplish this). This is the first step toward providing a better interface for mobile devices.

Improved support for screen readers

Some issues surrounding the use of screen readers and their interaction with MathPlayer have been resolved in MathJax v2.0. In particular, there are additional menu items that allow the user finer control over some aspects of MathJax’s interface that were interfering with some screen readers’ ability to properly identify the mathematics. Several stability issues with MathPlayer have also been addressed. In Internet Explorer when MathPlayer is installed, there is now a new contextual menu item to allow you to specify what events are handled by MathJax and what should be handled by MathPlayer. This gives you finer control over MathPlayer’s interaction with some screen readers.

Many new TeX additions and enhancements

  • New mhchem chemistry extension (adds \ce, \cf, and \cee macros)
  • New cancel extension (adds \cancel, \bcancel, \xcancel, and \cancelto macros)
  • New extpfeil extension (adds more stretchy arrows)
  • New color extension (makes \color work as a switch, as in LaTeX). Adds \definecolor, other color models, LaTeX named colors, \colorbox, \fcolorbox, etc.
  • New begingroup extension to allow macro definitions to be localized. Adds \begingroup and \endgroup for isolating macro declarations, and defines \let, \renewenvironment, \global, and \gdef.
  • New enclose extension to give TeX access to <menclose> elements. Adds \enclose{type}[attributes]{math} macro.
  • New action extension to give TeX access to <maction> elements. Adds \mathtip{math}{tip}, \texttip{math}{tip}, and \toggle{math1}{math2}...\endtoggle macros.
  • New \mmToken{type}[attributes]{text} macro for producing <mo>, <mi>, <mtext>, and other token MathML elements directly.
  • New \bbox[color;attributes]{math} macro to add background color, padding, borders, etc.
  • New \middle macro for stretchy delimiters between \left and \right.
  • New \label, \ref, and \eqref macros for numbered equations.
  • Better implementation of \not so it produces proper MathML when possible.
  • Better implementation of \dots that selects \ldots or \cdots depending on the context.
  • Better implementation of \cases that automatically uses \text on the second entry in each row.
  • Safer implementation of \require that only allows loading from extensions directory.
  • Allow \newcommand to provide a default parameter.
  • Allow \\ to take an optional argument that specifies additional space between lines.
  • Allow \\ to be used anywhere (to force a line break), not just in arrays.
  • Allow optional alignment parameter for array, aligned, and gathered environments.

See the TeX support page for details on these extensions and macros.

Font enhancements

  • Work around for the OS X Lion STIX font problem.
  • Support for STIX-1.1 fonts (detection of which version you have, and use data appropriate for that).
  • New WOFF versions of the web fonts (smaller, so faster to download).
  • Data for more stretchy characters in HTML-CSS output.
  • Add support for Unicode planes 1 through 10 (not just the Math Alphabet block) in HTML-CSS output.
  • Increased timeout for web fonts (since it was switching to image fonts too often, especially for mobile devices).
  • Only switch to image fonts if the first web font fails to load (if we can access one, assume we can access them all).
  • Allow <mtext> elements to use the page font rather than MathJax fonts (optionally). This is controlled by the mtextFontInerhit configuration parameter for HTML-CSS and SVG output jax.
  • Provide better control over the font used for characters that are not in the MathJax fonts.
  • Allow Firefox to use web-based fonts when a local URL uses MathJax from the CDN (in the past it would force image fonts when that was not necessary).

Interface improvements

  • The MathJax contextual menu has been reorganized to make it easier to get the source view, and to control the parameters for MathPlayer in IE.
  • The MathJax contextual menu is available in mobile devices (see description above).
  • Warning messages are issued if you switch renderers to one that is inappropriate for your browser.
  • MathJax now starts processing the page on the DOMContentLoaded event rather than the page onload event (this allows the mathematics to appear sooner).
  • Native MathML output is now scaled to better match the surrounding font (like it is for HTML-CSS output).
  • Better CSS styling for NativeMML output in Firefox in order to handle \cal and other fonts.
  • MathML output now (optionally) includes class names to help mark special situations generated by the TeX input jax. (This lets the MathML from the Show Source menu item better reproduce the original TeX output.)
  • MathJax now loads the menu and zoom code (if they haven’t been loaded already) after the initial typesetting has occured so that they will be available immediately when a user needs those features, but do not delay the initial typesetting of the mathematics.
  • For the tex2jax preprocessor, the processClass can now be used to override the skipTags to force a tag that is usually skipped to have its contents be processed.
  • The noErrors and noUndefined extensions can now be disabled via a configuration option (since they are included in many of the combined configuration files). See the noErrors and noUndefined sections of the TeX support page for more information.
  • There is a new MathJax.Hub.setRenderer() function that can be used to switch the current renderer. See the MathJax Hub API documentation for details.
  • A user-defined macros is no longer overridden if an extension is loaded that redefines that macro.
  • Improved web-font detection reliability.

Important changes from previous versions

  • The default renderer for Firefox has been changed from NativeMML to HTML-CSS (in those configurations that choose between the two). The only browser that defaults to NativeMML is now IE with MathPlayer installed. You can configure this to your liking using the MMLorHTML configuration options.

  • NativeMML output will now be selected in IE9 when MathPlayer is present (since IE9 was released the same day as MathJax v1.1a, and there had been problems with IE9 beta releases, we weren’t sure if MathPlayer would work with the official release, and so did not select NativeMML by default.)

  • The performance improvements in IE8 and IE9 now make it unnecessary to use a <meta> tag to force IE7 emulation mode. In fact IE9 in IE9 standards mode now runs faster than IE9 in IE7 standards mode, and IE8 in IE8 standards mode is comparable to IE8 in IE7 standards mode. We now recommend that you use

    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">

    to obtain the highest emulation mode available in IE, which will be the fastest one for MathJax 2.0.

  • The tex2jax preprocessor now balances braces when looking for the closing math delimiter. That allows expressions like

    $y = x^2 \hbox{ when $x > 2$}$

    to be properly parsed as a single math expression rather than two separate ones with unbalanced braces. The old behavior can be obtained by setting balanceBraces to false in the tex2jax block of your configuration. (See the tex2jax configuration options for details.)

  • If you are hosting your own copy of MathJax on your server, and that copy is being used from pages in a different domain, you will have set up the access control paramters for the font directory to allow Firefox to access the font files properly. Since MathJax 2.0 includes fonts in WOFF format, you will need to include woff in you access control declaration for the fonts. E.g., use

    <FilesMatch "\.(ttf|otf|eot|woff)$">
    <IfModule mod_headers.c>
    Header set Access-Control-Allow-Origin "*"

    in the .htaccess` file for the ``Mathjax/fonts directory if you are using the Apache web server. See Notes about shared installations for details.

  • The \cases macro now properly places the second column in text mode not math mode. In the past, one needed to use \text in the second column to achieve the proper results; pages that did this will still work properly in v2.0. Pages that took advantage of the math mode in the second column will need to be adjusted.

  • The \dots macro now produces \ldots or \cdots depending on the context (in the past, \dots always produced \ldots).

  • A one pixel padding has been added above and below HTML-CSS and SVG output so that math on successive lines of a paragraph won’t bump into each other.

  • There is a new MathPlayer submenu of the Math Settings menu in the MathJax contextual menu that allows the user to control what events are passed on to MathPlayer. This allows better control for those using assistive devices like screen readers. When menu events are being passed on to MathPlayer, the MathJax menu can be obtained by ALT-clicking on a typeset expression (so the user can still access MathJax’s other features).

  • In order to improve stability with IE when MathPlayer is installed, MathJax now adds the namespace and object bindings that are needed for MathPlayer at the time that Mathjax is first loaded, rather than waiting for the NativeMML output jax to be loaded. Since this is before the configuration information has been obtained, this will happen regardless of whether the NativeMML output jax is requested. This means that IE may ask the user to allow MathPlayer to be used, and may show the MathPlayer splash dialog even when MathPlayer is not in the end used by MathJax. Note that this setup can only be performed if MathJax is loaded explicitly as part of the initial web page; if it is injected into the page later by adding a <script> tag to the page dynamically, then MathPlayer will be set up when the NativeMML jax is loaded as in the past, and some stability issues may occur if events are passed to MathPlayer.

  • The MathJax typesetting is now started on DOMContentLoaded rather than at the page onload event, when possible, so that means MathJax may start typesetting the page earlier than in the past. This should speed up typesetting one pages with lots of images or side-bar content, for example.

  • MathJax now attempts to determine whether the page’s onload event had already occurred, and if it has, it does not try to wait for the DOMContentLoaded or onload event before doing its initial typeset pass. This means that it is no longer necessary to call MathJax.Hub.Startup.onload() by hand if you insert MathJax into the page dynamically (e.g., from a GreaseMonkey script).

  • If the page URL includes a hash reference (a link to a particular location within the page), MathJax v2.0 will jump to that location after the page has finished typsetting. Since the size of the page may have changed due to the mathematical typsetting, that location may no longer be visible on screen, so MathJax moves there when it is done with the initial typesetting. You can control this behavior with the positionToHash parameter in the main section of your configuration (see core configuration options).

  • In the event that MathJax is not able to load the configuration file you have specified in the script tag that loads MathJax.js via config=filename, it will no longer issue the warning message about a missing configuration. The configuration process changed in v1.1, and that message was to help page maintainers update their configurations, but it turns out that for users with slow network connections, MathJax could time out waiting for the configuration file and would issue the warning message in that case, even though the page included the proper configuration. That should no longer occur in MathJax v2.0.

Other enhancements

  • Use prioritized lists of callbacks for StartupHooks, MessageHooks, LoadHooks, PreProcessors, and pre- and post-filters on the input jax.
  • Updated operator dictionary to correspond to current W3C version.
  • Improved browser detection for Gecko and WebKit browsers.
  • Make prefilters and postfilters for all input jax, and make them into hook lists rather than a single hook.
  • Use <mi> rather than <mo> for \sin, \cos, and other such functions, for \mathop{\rm...} and \operatorname.
  • Add &ApplyFunction; after \mathop{} and other macros that are functions (e.g., \sin).
  • The MathJax_Preview style has been moved from HTML-CSS/jax.js to MathJax.js, since it is common to all output.
  • The autobold extension now uses \boldsymbol rather than \bf so that it will affect more characters.
  • Make units of mu‘s be relative to the scriptlevel (as they are supposed to be).
  • Reorganized the event-handling code to make it more modular and reduce redundancy in the different output jax.
  • Modified CSS in NativeMML output for Firefox to use local copies of the web fonts, if they are available.
  • Error messages now have the MathJax contextual menu.
  • Better handling of some characters not in the web fonts (remap to locations where they exist, when possible).
  • Better choice of accent characters in some cases.
  • Better handling of pseudo-scripts (like primes).
  • Better sizing of characters introduced by \unicode{}, or otherwise outside of the fonts known to MathJax.
  • Provide a new extension to handle tagged equations better in HTML-CSS output when there are floating elements that might reduce the area available to displayed equations. (See the HTML-CSS extensions section of the output formats documentation for detais.)
  • Use a text font for \it rather than the math italics, so spacing is better.
  • Handle italic correction better in HTML-CSS output
  • Handle href attributes better, especially when on <math> elements.
  • Allow \sqrt\frac{}{} without producing an error.

Other bug fixes

  • MathPlayer setup changed to prevent crashes.
  • Moved remapping of <mo> contents to the output jax so that the original contents aren’t changed.
  • Don’t combine mathvariant with fontstyle or fontweight (as per the MathML specification).
  • Isolate non-standard attributes on MathML elements so that they don’t interfere with the inner workings of MathJax.
  • Properly handle width of border and padding in merrors in HTML-CSS output.
  • Properly handle lower-case Greek better.
  • Process weight and style of unknown characters properly.
  • Fixed spacing problems with \cong in MathJax web fonts .
  • Choose better sizes for \widehat and \widetilde
  • Fixed problem with detecting em/ex sizes when uses in mobile devices with small screen widths.
  • Fixed MathML output when dimensions of mu‘s are used in TeX input.
  • Better handling of table borders from TeX.
  • Fixed some problems with table widths and heights, and spacing.
  • Better handling of colored backgrounds in HTML-CSS output.
  • Handle border and padding CSS styles better in HTML-CSS output.
  • Fixed multline environment to put tags on bottom row when TagSide is set to right.
  • Force reflow after equations are typeset so that some rendering problems in tables are corrected in Firefox and WebKit browsers.
  • Fixed a number of bugs with the size of zoom boxes and the size of their content.
  • Have equations with tags zoom into a full-width zoom box to accommodate the tag.
  • Fixed positioning problem with zoom boxes in NativeMML mode.
  • Don’t allow mouse events on zoomed math.
  • Fixed MathJax.Hub.getJaxFor() and MathJax.Hub.isJax() to properly handle elements that are part of an output jax’s output (in particular, you can find the element jax from any DOM element in the output).
  • Fixed a number of font anomalies (problems in the data files).
  • Fixed problem where <mspace> with a background color would not always overlay previous items.
  • Fixed a problem with colored <mspace> elements being too tall in IE/quirks mode.
  • Fixed problem where <mtable> with equalrows="true" would not produce equal height rows.
  • Allow <mpadded> background color to be specified exactly (i.e., without the 1px padding) when one of its dimensions is given explicitly (or there is no content).
  • Avoiding flicker problem with hover zoom trigger in Firefox.
  • Fix \unicode bug with font names that include spaces.
  • Remove internal multiple spaces in token elements as per the MathML specification.
  • Work around HTML5 removing namespaces, so that xmlns:xlink becomes xlink with no namespace, which confuses the XML parsers.
  • Fix MathJax.Message.Set() and MathJax.Message.Clear() so that a delay of 0 is properly handled.
  • Produce better MathML for \bmod, \mod, and \pmod.
  • Don’t allow Safari/Windows to use STIX fonts since it can’t access characters in Plane1 (the mathematical alphabets).
  • Fix \thickapprox to use the correct glyph in HTML-CSS output with MathJax web fonts.
  • Make style attributes work on <mstyle> elements.
  • Better handling of border and padding on MathML elements in HTML-CSS output.
  • Fixed error with size of \: space.
  • Allow delimiter of . on \genfrac (it was accidentally rejected).
  • Handle AMSmath control sequences with stars better (\cs{*} no longer counts as \cs*).
  • Fixed wrong character number in stretchy data for U+221A.
  • Fixed <annotation-xml> to use the proper scaling in HTML-CSS output.
  • Fixed a problem with combining characters when they are used as accents.
  • Fixed a problem in Firefox with \mathchoice when the contents have negative width.
  • TeX input jax no longer incorrectly combines <mo> elements that have different variants, styles, classes, or id’s.
  • Fixed the scriptlevel when <munderover> has base with movablelimits="true" in non-display mode.
  • Fixed typo in implementation of SimpleSUPER.
  • Fixed typo in self-closing flag for <mprescript> tag.
  • Prevent infinite loop if one of the jax fails to load (due to failure to compile or timeout waiting for it to load).
  • Fixed a whitespace issue in token elements with IE/quirks mode in the MathML input jax.
  • Make sure height is above depth when making spaces and rules in HTML-CSS and SVG output.
  • Fixed HTML-CSS tooltip to be work properly when a restart occurs within the tooltip.
  • Fixed problem with size of colored backgrounds on <mo> in some circumstances in HTML-CSS output.
  • Make \ulcorner, etc. use more approprate unicode positions, and remap those positions to the locations in the MathJax web fonts.

Some technical changes

  • Break the processing phase into two separate phases to do input processing separately from output processing (they used to be interleaved). This makes it easier to implement forward references for the \ref macro.
  • Make Font Preference menu honor the imageFont setting.
  • Changed the name of the preview filter commands to previewFilter in all preprocessors.
  • Make ^ and _ be stretchy even though that isn’t in the W3C dictionary.
  • Fixed HTML-CSS output problem when a multi-character token element has characters taken from multiple fonts.
  • Force message text to be black in FontWarnings and configuration warnings.
  • Added Find() and IndexOf() commands to menus to locate menu items.
  • Added menu signals for post/unpost and activation of menu items.
  • Added signals for typesetting of unknown characters.
  • Added signals for zoom/unzoom.
  • Added More signals for error conditions.
  • Allow preferences to select MathML output for Safari with late enough version.
  • Improved About MathJax box.
  • Have tex2jax handle empty delimiter arrays and don’t scan page if there is nothing to look for.
  • Make delay following a processing message configurable and lengthen it to make browser more responsive during typesetting.
  • Make thin rules be in pixels to try to improve results in IE (disappearing division lines).
  • Mark all output elements as isMathJax, so it can be used to identify what elements are part of mathematical output.
  • Force MathZoom and MathMenu to wait for the Begin Styles message before inserting their styles so when they are included in the combined files, the author can still configure them.
  • Add default id’s to the jax base object classes.
  • Mark top-level math element as having a texError when it is one (to make it easier to recognize).
  • Have Update() method ask ElementJax to determine if it needs updating (which in turn asks the associated input jax).
  • Make Remove() work for just clearing output (without detaching) if desired.
  • Have ElementJax store input and output jax ID’s rather than pointers (to help avoid circular references for cleanup purposes).
  • Move input/output jax and preprocessor registries from Hub.config to Hub itself (they are not user configurable through Hub.Config, and so even though they are configurations, they don’t belong there).
  • Make sure embelished large ops are type OP not ORD to get spacing right.
  • Added MathJax.HTML.getScript() to get the contents of a script (needed since it works differently in different browsers).
  • Move code that prevents numbers from being treated as a unit for super- and subscripts to the super- and subscript routine in the TeX input jax (prevents making changes to \text{}, \hbox{}, \href{}, etc.).
  • Make mml2jax work better with IE namespaces (IE9 no longer seems to list the xmlns entries on the <html> element).