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Interactive Mathematics on the Web: LiveMath - Platform Dependence/Independence

Carl Spitznagel

Ironically, the very thing that makes LiveMath so attractive -- the use of a free browser plug-in to support interaction over the web -- has been and may continue to be a source of potential complexities for authors of interactive LiveMath notebooks on the web. As an author, you would like your material to be viewable on a variety of computer systems -- and indeed the company provides free plug-ins for many systems. But maintaining the necessary family of plug-ins for all the browsers and operating systems that LiveMath can interact with is somewhat like shooting at a moving target. For instance, Microsoft's recent decision to discontinue support for Netscape-type plug-ins had the side effect that web pages with LiveMath content would not function in Internet Explorer 6, and so the LiveMath developers were sent scrambling to develop an ActiveX version of the plug-in for use with IE 6. When the ActiveX plug-in became available, it then became necessary for authors of web pages with LiveMath content to perform some maintenance tasks on all of those web pages, in order to allow them to be accessed by Internet Explorer 6.

Moreover, the continual updating of the LiveMath plug-ins for various browsers and operating systems causes LiveMath notebooks to have some small amount of platform dependence. As an example, if you view the LiveMath notebooks that accompany this review using Netscape and again using Internet Explorer 6, you will notice differences in the LiveMath header, as well as in the functionality of the backspace key.

Carl Spitznagel, "Interactive Mathematics on the Web: LiveMath - Platform Dependence/Independence," Convergence (November 2004)