Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 1—Open textbooks in MathBook XML Workshop at American Institute of Mathematics

Greetings from the Open textbooks in MathBook XML Workshop ( I am here for a one-week workshop (April 25—29, 2016 ) at the American Institute of Mathematics, San Jose, California. The workshop, organized by Rob Beezer, David Farmer, and Kent Morrison and sponsored by AIM and the NSF,is bringing together teams of authors of open source mathematics textbooks, developers of technical tools supporting authoring of these books, and experienced editors providing reviews, advice, and guidance. During the workshop, authors will begin by converting existing book projects from LaTeX to a highly structured format. This new format will then easily convert to print, PDF, HTML, EPUB, and Jupyter Notebooks.

After a brief welcome from Brian Conrey, the director of AIM, and the organizers, we went through the room for introductions (about 30 people).  It takes a while for each person to tell their life story and describe the project that brought them to the workshop.  There are lots of people who are interested in writing open source textbooks, making books available in different formats, and incorporating tools such as WebWork.  People are bringing a wide variety of skill sets to the workshop. Participants are here for a variety of reasons:
  • I want to write my own book because I haven't found one that fits the needs of my students.
  • I am interested in inquiry-based learning.
  • I want to make my book available in a variety of formats.  I tell my student not to read their online textbooks on their smart phone, but they continue to ignore me.  So I guess that I had better make the textbook available in a format more friendly to the smart phone so at least they will not go blind trying to read the small print of a PDF version.
  • I want technology to be an integral format of my book.
  • I want to be able to collaborate with a group of authors.
Rob Beezer (University of Puget Sound) used the second half of the morning to give an introduction to MathBook XML (  For a good example of what is possible, see my abstract algebra textbook (  Beezer demonstrated the print and online versions of the book.  We are all used to print and PDF versions of a textbook.  The layout for an HTML version is a bit different and may also appear differently on different devices (your computer monitor versus your iPhone).

We spent the afternoon learning about SageMathCloud ( and writing a simple MathBook XML article. The SageMathCloud allowed everyone to work in their own Linux computer.

Here are some useful references on MathBook XML:

  • HTML:
  • PDF:
You need to to install MathBook XML first using git.  Git for authors:

  • HTML:
  • GitHub:

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