by Paul F. Watson
Introduction: I've recently been working on a project that requires equations inserted into text documents. On Mac, I use either Apple Pages, or NeoOffice as a word processor and on PC I use Softmaker Free-Office; but neither of these (as installed on my computers) provide an equation editor. I am loath to spend a lot on my current short term project, so I prefer to use either an affordable or free equation editor.
Equation representation methods have consequences:
Daum Equation Editor for Mac: For the Mac, I purchased the Daum Equation Editor before it was free. I have used it to create graphic equation images that include Greek symbols, numbers and math symbols. These are typed into modular mathematical templates which can be combined to form a single, fairly complex equation. Created equations are often fairly large thus providing adequate quality when shrunk down to a size suitable for inclusion in text documents. The figure below shows the user interface .
Figure 1: Daum Equation Editor
Intuitive user templates for the Daum Equation Editor are in the upper row. When "hovered over," each expands to offer alternatives which may be "dragged" down into the equation development field. Operators such as "*" (e.g. multiply) can be inserted between. I have added arrows to Figure 1 illustrating program operation. The lower portion of the screen provides text coded forms of equations.
Using the Daum Editor, it is common to develop multiple equations for a project "stacked" one over the other. These are saved into a common file allowing "copy" and "paste" of a desired equation into a text document.
Disadvantages: Because a project equation set is saved within a "stacked collection of equations" in graphic form, a common method of use is to "copy" an equation out of the common equation graphic. When the intended word processor does not include "resize capability", Daum generated graphic equations may need to be resized prior to paste. Ease of use for Daum is thus dependent on capabilities of your word processor, and whether you take full advantage of "text defined" equation mode of the lower screen.
Daum Conclusion: Daum Equation Editor does provide a viable method for creating usable and fairly complex equations suitable for inclusion in text documents. The program has a simple user interface and is essentially a "zero learn time" program at no cost.
Grapher Application for Mac: Mac computers even before High Sierra included the Grapher Application which is within the Applications/Other folder. While intended to produce high quality 2 and 3 dimensional graphs, it includes an equation editor. Equations may be entered using intuitive methods including parenthesis, ^, * and / symbols etc. Equations are created as vector images, and when inserted into the Apple Pages word processor, enable zoom shrinking or expanding without image degradation. When equations are pasted into NeoOffice, they are converted into graphic images and vector advantages are lost. While Grapher equations are created by vector representation, insertion into a text document as either vector or image is thus word processor dependent.
Windows PC: For PC computers, a number of equation editors were surveyed. At considerable cost, some are very powerful; however, free alternatives exist.
MathCast for PC is downloadable from multiple web-sites without cost including math.sourceforge.net. MathCast operation is simple, with a column of command buttons (not shown) at the left which enable creation of a new equation, saving of all equations etc. MathCast is released under GNU General Public License version 3.0 (GPLv3) allowing both private and commercial use.
Equations are created by typing characters or selecting operator symbols (such as roots) from the drop-down 'Math' menu organized by subject (algebra, calculus, trig, Greek symbols etc.). The user interface is shown by Figure 2. After entry, finished equations are added to the display area also shown in Figure 2. Equations may be "click selected" to edit, modify font or for "paste" into text documents.
Figure 2: MathCast User Interface with Examples
The "save" command allows equation sets to be saved as image, MathML, Office Image or as OpenOffice formats per the "settings" panel Figure 3.
Figure 3: MathCast Settings Panel
Once equations have been developed for a project, they can be high-light selected (individually) before "copy" and "paste" into text documents. Figure 4 below shows an "image" based equation "pasted" into SoftMaker Office which allows moderate scaling prior to image degradation.
Figure 4: SoftMaker Office with "pasted" graphic MathCast Equation
MathCast Conclusion: MathCast is an effective "zero learn time" program that gives results. Some reviewers are critical of the entry system; but, I found it effective. For example, equation size can be increased by "right click" selection before integration into text documents. MathCast use is appropriate for educators and writers of technical articles. The program can be used for mathematical as well as scientific purposes as it includes a range of scientific symbols. Commercial use is allowed under GNU license.
MathEditor: for PC is a "5 minute learn time" free Math Editor distributed under GNU General Public License version 3.0 (PGLv3) allowing both private and commercial use. It may be downloaded free from https://sourceforge.net/projects/eqtype/ and is available for Win32 PC based computers (also runs well on my Windows 10 based PC). The intuitive user interface is shown in Figure 5 along with example equations.
Figure 5: MathEditor Control Screen
MathEditor equations are vector represented, and may thus be copy/pasted into compatible world processors with fully scalable results as shown within SoftMaker Office below in Figure 6.
Conclusion: MathEditor is a modern, free download application available from https://sourceforge.net. It produces quality vector images that may be pasted and resized in compatible word processor software (e.g. SoftMaker Office). It is freely available for both personal and professional use under a GNU license. It is compatible with older 32 bit windows systems, but was tested successfully on my Windows 10 system. This highly recommended software should not be confused with MathEditor from github.com a WYSWYG editor for math formulas on IOS.
Formulator (also known as MathLM Weaver) for PC is a "5 minute learn time" Math Editor with a modern mouse driven interface. The program is released both in free and alternative paid versions.
The program produces professional results suitable for educational use or professional journal articles.General Conclusions: Whether Mac or PC, numerous math equation editors are available. Some are compatible with Linux based systems. At the paid subscription end of the market, robust capabilities including graphing and integration with equations is available from programs such as Mathcha- Online Math Editor. Generally, more capability equals greater complexity and I like simple. Low cost alternatives do exist for creating and integrating equations into text documents. Alternatives worthy of consideration are MathCast, EquationEditor and for Mac the Daum Equation Editor. These are effective, free and easy to use.
Individuals with an interest in quality
education related math software should review the following article:
includes topics beyond equation editing.