Summary: Display MathML rendered ascii formula into PmWiki 2.x pages
Version: 20190209
Status: Stable
Prerequisites: PHP 5+, pmwiki-2.2.58 and IE6 + MathPlayer or Netscape7.1/Mozilla/Firefox with appropriates fonts
Maintainer: Dfaure
Discussion: ASCIIMath-Talk
Categories: Markup Math PHP55 PHP72
Download: asciimath.zipΔ

Question addressed by this recipe

Would you (or your students) like to easily produce good-looking math formulas on wiki pages using a simple calculator-style syntax ?


asciimath.zipΔ will help you incorporating mathematical formulas on PmWiki pages with a minimum of fuss.

Notes and Comments

ASCIIMath recipe is based on ASCIIMathPHP by Steven Chan -> mailto:kc56 [snail] cornell [period] edu, a PHP port of ASCIIMathML.js from Peter Jipsen.


  1. Download and extract asciimath.zipΔ to the PmWiki's root directory.
  2. Make sure you have:
    • cookbook/asciimath.php file and cookbook/asciimath directory,
    • pub/asciimath directory (note to updaters: the pub/xsl directory is no more used).
  3. In your local/config.php file, you must include the asciimath.php script:

Optionally, you may keep the provided Cookbook text pages content (including this one) for further references.


Once installed, the following markups are available:

{$ %<parameters...>% formula $}
(:eqn <parameters...> :) [=
(:eqn <parameters...> :) 

with the following optional parameters:

  • height=PIXELS to set the height reserved for the formula,
  • num(=VALUE) to display (and eventually set) an equation number,

The markup parameters are filtered and all +... and -... unhandled options are silently discarded. All other parameters are forwarded to the MathML style definition.


(Excerpt from ASCIIMathML.js : Syntax and List of Constants. Please refer to original site for complete references):

The syntax is very permissive and does not generate syntax errors. This allows mathematically incorrect expressions to be displayed, which is important for teaching purposes. It also causes less frustration when previewing formulas.

The parser uses no operator precedence and only respects the grouping brackets, subscripts, superscript, fractions and (square) roots. This is done for reasons of efficiency and generality. The resulting MathML code can quite easily be processed further to ensure additional syntactic requirements of any particular application.

The sample given on ASCIIMathML.js home page will be rendered with following page content:

'''Example:''' Solving the quadratic equation.

Suppose {$ %height=70px% ax^2+bx+c=0 text( with ) a!=0 $}

We first divide by ''a'' to get
{$ %num=1% x^2+b/ax+c/a=0 $}

Then we complete the square and obtain
{$ %num% x^2+b/ax+(b/(2a))^2-(b/(2a))^2+c/a=0 $}

The first three terms factor to give
{$ %num% (x+b/(2a))^2=(b^2)/(4a^2)-c/a $}

Now we take square roots on both sides and get
{$ %num% x+b/(2a)=+-sqrt((b^2)/(4a^2)-c/a) $}

Finally we move {$ b/(2a) $} to the right and simplify to
get the two solutions:
{$ %num=5% x_(1,2)=(-b+-sqrt(b^2-4ac))/(2a) $}

Example: Solving the quadratic equation.


We first divide by a to get


Then we complete the square and obtain


The first three terms factor to give


Now we take square roots on both sides and get


Finally we move

to the right and simplify to get the two solutions:


Implementation considerations, Limitations

Currently, formulas are handled in a two step process:

  1. Generate formulas as XML files of MathML code into the pub/asciimath directory.
  2. Render generated formulas in wiki page via some <iframe> tags with the help of the pmathml.xsl and pmathmlcss.xsl stylesheets provided in the pub/asciimath directory.

A formula file is generated only if it didn't previously exist or if formula text has changed. In edition mode (?action=edit) formulas are inconditionnally generated to handle preview feedback.

An extra ?action=purgeqns is made available to allow some clean up of the pub/asciimath directory if needed.

Each formula is anchored no its own page with the name eqn_<number> (the order of apparition in the page).

ASCIIMathPHP is based on an outdated version of ASCIIMathML.js (v1.3). Despite the current version has been patched to support more ASCIIMathML.js features, some of them are still lacking or non-functional. You may ask the author for upgrades.

See also

Cookbook /
AMmathjax  Add markup to embed math using ASCII MATH by MathJax. (Stable)
Formula  Lightweight rendering of mathematical formulas in wiki pages (Beta)
FractionsPlus  Adds simple markup to write fractions. (Maintained)
JsMath  Add markup to display and embed mathematical formulas in wiki pages using TeX. (Obsolete - use MathJax)
LaTeXMathJax  MathJax support for PmWiki (stable)
LaTeXMathML  Translating LaTeX math notation dynamically to Presentation MathML (Stable)
LinuxTex  Enable TeX markup
LuaExecute  Lets Lua scripts dynamically generate parts of your wiki page (Beta)
MathJax  Add markup to embed math using TeX syntax. (Stable)
Mathtex  Add markup to display and embed several lines of mathematical formulas in wiki pages (testing)
MimeTeX  Add markup to display and embed mathematical formulas in wiki pages (Stable)
SageCell  This allows you to embed an interactive SageCell into your webpage. Sage is an open source alternative to MathLab, Mathematica, and Maple. (Stable)
SimpleJsMath  Notes on modifying the jsMath for a skin (not a complete recipe)
TrueLatex  Enables interpretation and rendering of real LaTeX markups in PmWiki. Support for XeLaTex included in v1.8. (Working perfectly. Very simple to use, customizable and comes with lots of options.)


Releases Notes

  • 2005-06-07 Initial version
  • 2005-08-20 Updated to modified ASCIIMathPHP v1.10 (patch submitted to the author), and fixed typo bugs.
  • 2005-09-04 Fixed <:vspace> hint with 2.0.0 and above.
  • 2006-01-30 Added missing stylesheet and reduced pub/ directory pollution. Minor tweaks.
  • 2006-03-07 Merging unreleased enhancements.
  • 2006-10-26 Add RecipeInfo data. Cleaned code.
  • 2006-10-28 Minor tweaks.
  • 20190209 Update for PHP 7, requires PHP 5 or newer and PmWiki 2.2.58 or newer.


See discussion at ASCIIMath-Talk

User notes? : If you use, used or reviewed this recipe, you can add your name. These statistics appear in the Cookbook listings and will help newcomers browsing through the wiki.