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Overview, math properties

This tutorial will cover working with properties in equations. We assume you already know how to work with MathFlow Editor. If not, please go through the Using MathFlow Editor tutorial.

Entering an equation into MathFlow Editor is pretty straightforward, but in the days of slick advertising and the Internet, a simple equation may not be what you want. You may want to spice up the equation a bit by setting properties on part or all of it. These properties may result in stylistic changes, such as making part of the equation red, or in making the whole equation a bit bigger than normal. These changes may also carry semantic information, for instance by making a vector bold.

Properties are fairly easy to set, but mastery of them can be difficult. The biggest issue with using properties is in deciding how the properties behave. In the following sections, we'll cover the various types of properties and how best to use them.

Sticky vs. non-sticky properties

Properties come in 2 "flavors": sticky and non-sticky. In general, the only place the difference between these two types of properties becomes apparent is when a user cuts part of an equation and pastes it somewhere else. Sticky properties are named thus because they 'stick' to the characters they are applied to. So, if you have applied sticky parameters to part of an equation and you cut and paste it somewhere else, the properties will still be stuck to those characters. Non-sticky properties are not attached to the characters themselves. Instead, they are applied to part of an expression. If you paste something into that part, it will pick up the properties. If you cut something out of that part of the expression and paste it somewhere else, it will lose the properties. Consider this example.

original equation: mathflow_math_properties.png

sticky properties: mathflow_math_properties_sticky.png

non-sticky properties:mathflow_math_properties_nonsticky.png


A note about our use of color: In this section of tutorials, we will be using color for parts of the expression. Such color may at times appear to be out of place or uncalled for. Our only purpose in using color is to demonstrate the effect of various MathML attributes. By seeing what happens with colored symbols, it's easier to generalize the purpose of particular attributes in getting the look you need.

The type of properties you use depends on your own personal preferences. In general, it is better to use sticky properties if you are changing a single character. Use non-sticky properties if you are changing a part of an expression. The reason for this is to minimize the size of the MathML that represents the expression. Because sticky properties are applied to each character, they make the source code for the expression much larger if they are applied to a group of characters.